ZBA Approves Techadelphia Variance

1525 North American Street

The ZBA’s blessing clears the way for work to start on this “jobs factory” with apartments in South Kensington. Rendering | Harman Deutsch Architecture

The Zoning Board of Adjustment voted unanimously this week to approve the zoning variance needed to allow the Techadelphia mixed-use project to proceed.

The planned development in South Kensington consists of a row of townhomes facing Philip Street and a five-story building on American Street with co-working space on the street floor and basement and four floors of apartments above. The apartment rents will cover the cost of offering free co-working space for Philly-based tech entrepreneurs and 40 scholarships for youth in nearby neighborhood schools. Read more »

Vacant Properties in Point Breeze To Become Affordable Housing

The South Capitol St. property on which one of the developments will be built.

The South Capitol St. property on which one of the developments will be built.

The trend of socially conscious development continued this week, as the transferral of two Point Breeze properties to the Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) was approved by the Philadelphia Vacant Property Review Committee. The WCRP also announced that they were partnering with Citizens Acting Together Can Help (CATCH) to work on the project to provide affordable housing for families and veterans.

CATCH is a community group in Philadelphia that helps provide “supportive housing for disable veterans and others with special needs.”

The properties are located at 1308-1344 South Capitol St. and 1400-1428 South Taylor St. According to a press release, the plans are not finalized yet, but as of now they anticipate building around 30 one to three bedroom homes. Kramer+Marks Architects will design the development.

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Beyond the Gallery: Developers Snap up Three Properties on Market East

The Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia

The Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia

There’s an interesting wrinkle to the redevelopment of The Gallery at Market East into the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia. PREIT and Macerich, the partnership developing the future outlet mall, have also purchased three properties across the street from the current downtrodden shopping center.

According to a report from The Inquirer’s Jacob Adelman, Joseph Coradino, PREIT’s cheif executive, said the plan is to find new tenants for these storefronts after the retailers at the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia have been selected. They could be used to lure businesses who might not fit the plans of new shopping center, but want to be in and around the action. Remember, the East Market project is bringing apartments and gobs of retail to 11th and Market in the not-too-distant future–so there should be plenty of action in the coming years.

The Inky found out through city records that the pair bought the properties between 1010 and 1024 Market Street, which includes the wave-like Robinson department store building, under multiple (and difficult to identify) names in November 2014 for a combined $17.24 million.

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Councilman Squilla Introduces New Zoning to Ease Path for Hyde Hotel Project

Hyde hotel

Hyde Hotel | Rendering via Dranoff Properties, BLTa

Though Carl Dranoff’s plans to bring the SLS LUX hotel and residences to the corner of Broad and Spruce have been delayed by the state budget impasse, that hasn’t held him up from moving onto his other sbe-backed hotel project: the Hyde Hotel at Broad and Pine.

Jared Brey of PlanPhilly reports that Councilman Mark Squilla introduced two new bits of zoning legislation last week that would “remove some obstacles” for the project. One seeks to up zone the property from CMX-4 to CMX-5, the most permissive commercial zoning classification; the other would take care of issues with parking, loading, and roof decks.

The proposed 22-story building is seen as a “bookend” to the SLS Lux project, which occupies the northern corner of the 300 block of South Broad Street. It would rise 292 feet off of the street, and contain a mix 76 hotel rooms, approximately 83 apartments, a ground floor restaurant and an underground parking garage. The roof deck legislation comes into play due to a separate roof top restaurant and deck on the 23rd floor.

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Affordable Housing Complex for Artists Breaks Ground in West Philly

4050 Haverford Avenue } Rendering: PEC

4050 Haverford Avenue | Rendering: PEC

West Philly is about to get another apartment complex, but this time it’s not geared toward student foodies or young professionals with money to burn.

The People’s Emergency Center (PEC) broke ground on a new building today that will bring 20 units of affordable housing for artists and people in need. The site at 4050 Haverford Avenue is currently a vacant lot.

The project will cost $7.2 million, and PEC said they will begin work at the site on Wednesday in the hopes to having it completed by December of this year.

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Market East: Gallery Rehab Won’t Be Finished Until at Least 2018

The Gallery - under renovation

The Gallery under renovation earlier this year. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

The Gallery won’t re-open as the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia anytime soon.

Macerich and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, who are co-developing the transformation of the mall, say the project won’t be finished until 2018 or 2019 now. The news was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer; Macerich VP Robert Perlmutter revealed the news in a conference call with analysts last week.

The Gallery, originally hailed as generator of urban rebirth, had lost its anchor tenants in recent years, and storefronts on upper floors were generally vacant. Though the mall still had a lot of foot traffic and generated respectable sales per square foot, its reputation, quite frankly, stunk.

The eastern half of the mall is closed; the western half (Gallery II) is slowly clearing out for redevelopment. When that’s done, PREIT and Macerich will rehab it into the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia at Market East. Read more »

LOVE Park: Ceremonial Groundbreaking Set for Wednesday

LOVE Park | Hargreaves and Associates

LOVE Park | Hargreaves and Associates

The $16.5 million revamp of JFK Plaza/LOVE Park will officially commence this Wednesday, as city officials and project partners will gather for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the iconic public square at 11 a.m.

It’s unclear when LOVE Park will officially close to the public. Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring and last 12 to 16 months.

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$24 Million Loan Arranged for Redevelopment of Former West Philadelphia High School

The former West Philadelphia High School | via Colliers

The former West Philadelphia High School | via Colliers

The redevelopment of the former West Philadelphia High School into an apartment building has been talked about for some time–the better part of four years–but there has been little to no movement on the project. It looks as though that could soon change.

Colliers International announced today that the company has arranged a $24 million loan for “the acquisition and redevelopment” of the shuttered school building at 47th and Walnut.

Strong Place Partners (SSP), a Brooklyn-based development company, had sought to turn the shuttered school building into a mixed-use property consisting of 298 loft-style apartments with ground floor retail. The firm first presented their plans back in 2012, and expected the building to be move-in ready by 2016.

Though the Office of Property Assessment still shows the School District of Philadelphia as the owner of the building, it lists WPHS Venture Partners LLC as the mailing address; its Brooklyn street address leads to a company called Heights Advisors. Their website describes the project at 4700 Walnut as a “gut rehabilitation,” and states construction will commence in 2017.  Representatives from Heights Advisors were not immediately available for comment.

So what’s been the hold up?

“The borrower wanted to purchase and reposition the former school located in West Philadelphia near University City,” said Kristopher Wood of Colliers International Capital Markets in a release, who along with CICM’s John Banas arranged the loan. “Getting a construction loan was challenging because this was the first development the New York developer had done in Philadelphia, and many thought the location was not ready for 298 new apartments.”

A lot has changed in four years, to say the least. Developers are betting big that University City will continue its ascension onto the national scene as a force for eds, meds, and technology, and they’ve been lining up multiple apartment projects to accommodate the influx of young professionals.

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Brandywine Realty Trust Unloads 58 Properties in Near $400 Million Deal

Brandywine Realty Trust expects to close on the sale of Cira Square this month | Google Street View

Brandywine Realty Trust expects to close on the sale of Cira Square this month | Google Street View

Brandywine Realty Trust has sold a large portfolio of properties to an affiliate of Och Ziff Capital Management Group LCC, according to a company release.

The complex deal–worth $398.1 million–includes nearly 4 million square feet of rentable space over 58 “non-core holdings” in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. It marks the completion of what Brandywine called a “multi-year portfolio repositioning strategy” totaling $1.1 billion.

“The 2015 and early 2016 dispositions provide significant liquidity and results in a portfolio much more focused on urban and town center properties,” said Gerard Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine realty Trust, in the statement. “In addition, these transactions significantly increase our financial capacity, reduce debt and provide ample liquidity for our development pipeline.”

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