Headlines: Is Independence Mall Center City’s Next Hot Neighborhood?


The Independence Beer Garden was a gamble that paid off on Independence Mall

In just a few short days, droves of people will descend on Independence Mall to celebrate the birthplace of America. But what if that shot of life to an otherwise sleepy tourist center were to stick around all year round?

Thanks in large part to a few people who saw some serious potential in the massive buildings surrounding America’s “most historic square mile,” it’s actually starting to happen. According to The Inquirer, it kicked off with the purchase of the Dow Building in 2013.

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Holy Bjarke Ingels! Starchitect-Designed Office Building Coming to The Navy Yard

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The boom continues at the Navy Yard | Photo | Jeff Fusco

Want yet another example that the powers that be at the Navy Yard aren’t messing around when it comes to making the campus the major business hub in the region? Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners have announced that they will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, June 30 for a 94,000-square-foot speculative office building at 1200 Intrepid Avenue. It all goes down at 11 a.m.

Building a major office building without an attached tenant would be news enough in this city, add in the fact that it will be designed Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a global phenomenon in architecture and design, and the development team has really nailed down their point.

To recap: we have a starchitect-design office building with no tenants in the city’s booming business park. Has your imagination started to run wild? Ours hasn’t stopped. For instance, check out this nugget from the media advisory (emphasis is ours):

The building at 1200 Intrepid Avenue is Liberty’s fourteenth development in its 1.35 million-square-foot Navy Yard portfolio. The gravity defying design of the building mimics the circular nature of the new park at its doorstep, Central Green.

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South Philly ReStore to Get Two-Day Grand Opening with “Fun Day” Events

940 x 540 - restore-rendering copy

Image via Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia blog

Its celebratory, two-part introduction to Point Breeze isn’t the only reason for why you should be getting pumped about the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 2318 Washington Avenue. Real estate-wise, the 17,000-square-foot facility is anticipated to be a little gold nugget that will add to the neighborhood in more ways than one.

Indeed, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, who is set to discuss economic development along Washington Avenue and the jobs this particular store will bring during tomorrow’s ribbon-cutting, believes the new South Philadelphia ReStore is “sure to be so much more than a great new place to shop in Point Breeze.”

In addition to occupying a previously vacant building and potentially stimulating more economic activity on the avenue, the ReStore will offer locals a place to donate gently-used home goods and acquire low-cost building materials, while also furthering Habitat’s mission of providing affordable housing to those who need it. All proceeds from the store will go “towards the building and repairing of homes,” said Greenberger, per a press release.

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Headlines: Changes Are Afoot Near Nomad Pizza in Bella Vista


We were munching on some delicious wood fired goodness at Nomad Pizza this week and noticed one of those fire orange zoning stickers afixed to the outside of a warehouse directly across tiny Kater Street (and also across 7th Street from Good King Tavern). It turns out that a developer has plans to demolish the warehouse in favor of a new three-story building with a roof deck.

Four apartments with a yet-to-be-announced retail tenant on the ground floor would replace the warehouse. Naked Philly reports that the developers have already met with the Bella Vista Neighbors Association and needed the zoning variance because “the project calls for 100% lot coverage, same as the building the developers want to tear down.” It looks like the ZBA approved the application on June 23.

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The Navy Yard Set to Unveil Central Green

Central Green | Via The Navy Yard and James Corner Field Operations

Central Green | Rendering/Photo via The Navy Yard and James Corner Field Operations

The Navy Yard is set to officially unveil its new 4.5-acre green space dubbed Central Green next week. Jennifer Tran, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Navy Yard, told Property that the ribbon cutting will take place on Tuesday, June 30 at 11:45 a.m. at Rouse Boulevard and Intrepid Avenue (map). The event is open to the public and will feature live music, giveaways, a pay-as-you-go food truck lineup, outdoor games and even a free yoga session from Nava Yoga Center.

The circular park will be broken down into various outdoor rooms and feature multiple activity spaces, including a “sunlawn” for lounging, a serene hammock grove, a dedicated fitness station and even a large communal meeting table for people who want to conduct some business al fresco or just eat lunch. “We’re really excited about this park,” said Tran. “It’s for the employees [at the Navy Yard], but also for the public to enjoy as well.” Read more »

Renderings: What South Street’s Historic Royal Theater May Soon Look Like


As mentioned earlier this morning, PMC Property Group’s proposed 10-story building in Old City isn’t the only big project the city’s Architectural Committee will be reviewing tomorrow. There are several more to be sure, but the only other one with this much–perhaps more–power to tweak the fabric of a neighborhood is Dranoff Properties’ planned Royal Theater redevelopment, which would see everything but the building’s façade razed to make way for a mixed-use development with luxury housing and below-grade parking.

According to Hidden City’s Michael Bixler, the latest plan for the historic structure involves 40 luxury residential units, below-grade garage with 20 parking spaces, and 7,000 square feet of commercial space. Presenting before the Committee will be Dranoff Properties and Universal Community Homes, the latter of who Bixler reports will also go before the Committee of Financial Hardship on June 30th to try to “circumvent the legal protections of the local [historical] register.”

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Headlines: Dead on Arrival? Committee to Review New 10-Story Project in Old City

Top: View of site from Arch St; Bottom: View of site from south end of Little Boys Court| Images via Google Street View

Top: View of site from Arch St; Bottom: View of site from south end of Little Boys Court| Images via Google Street View

UPDATE: A request to the Philadelphia Historical Commission for an image of the proposed building at 218 Arch Street was answered several hours after this post was published. The rendering can be viewed below.


Among the projects the city’s Architecture Committee is set to hear tomorrow, PMC Property Group’s proposed 10-story mixed-use building in Old City is one of the big ones. Plans include ground-level retail along Arch, two stories of underground parking, and “five or six stories of apartments” with more stories rising in stages the farther back it goes.

However, the Inquirer’s Jacob Adelman reports committee staffers have already expressed a desire for the project to “be scrapped.” Dead on arrival? Not quite. As Adelman notes, the committee “makes non binding recommendations to the full commission” (emphasis ours).

Set on a parking lot at 218 Arch Street (and extending all the way to 226), the intended $28.5 million development would fall on Little Boy’s Court, a small passage said to be “the city’s last remaining cobblestone lane” and a point on which officials noted developers had not voiced significant information regarding its restoration, though their plans do call for it to be included in the development in relation to a courtyard.

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Construction of W / Element Hotel at 15th and Chestnut Underway

Rendering courtesy of Tierney Agency

Rendering courtesy of Tierney Agency

The former parking lot is gone and the teasing presence of inactive site prep vehicles is officially behind us – in other words, construction is underway on the 51-story skyscraper charged with holding a dual-brand hotel development consisting of the 295-room W Philadelphia and 460-room Element Philadelphia.

Check out the bonus night rendering below.

The W/Element project, whose construction commencement was announced yesterday, is being developed by Vine Street Matthews Development, but is owned by Chestlen Development. Starwood Hotels & Resorts will be managing the property. Funding for the $280 million development was made possible with the help of $33 million in tax increment financing and, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Natalie Kostelni, $160 million in loans.

The building is anticipated to have banquet facilities, an outdoor pool bar and terrace, and food and beverage outlets, as well as retail space along Chestnut Street. And make no mistake: the two hotels may occupy the same space, but they will maintain their distinctive styles and offer different amenities to their guests. Below, a list of their respective features.

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Groundbreaking: Here’s What to Expect from One Riverside

One Riverside | Courtesy: Dranoff Properties

One Riverside | Courtesy: Dranoff Properties

After a long and winding journey, Carl Dranoff’s latest luxury tower, One Riverside, officially broke ground yesterday. When complete, the Cecil Baker-designed building will rise 22-stories above the ground and feature sweeping views of the Schuylkill River as well as multiple vantage points of both the Center City, and ever-expanding University City skylines.

The One Riverside project will be Dranoff’s fourth foray into residential development along the Schuylkill River. Previous developments include Locust Point, Locust on the Park and the Left Bank, which is on the University City side of the river at 3131 Walnut Street.

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It’s Full Steam Ahead at Two Game-Changing Park Projects in South Philly

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The upcoming plans for Smith Playground | via Urban Roots

Connor Barwin has become somewhat of a folk hero here in Philly. When he isn’t making big time plays on the gridiron, he’s spearheading a few game-changing community revitalization projects at two South Philly parks through his foundation, the Make The World Better Project.

Through a partnership with the urban development non-profit Urban Roots Foundation, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and a slew of other local stakeholders, Barwin and crew are in the thick of a major project at Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker in Point Breeze and are about to kick off their efforts at another one, Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson. Jeffrey Tubbs, a Philly-based developer with JDT International and founder of Urban Roots, said that the project took its, ah-hem, roots over two and a half years ago with a meeting with Jahmall Crandall, the founder of I.am.SP (short for I am South Philadelphia). Crandall’s original vision sought to redo the ragged basketball courts at the park. Let’s just say he got his wish and a whole lot more.

Tubbs said the ideas then started to snowball into something bigger. First, enlarge and resurface the court and outfit it with a pair of top notch hoops. Next, freshen up the tot lot with a softer look and brand new play equipment. Then, as Tubbs explained, the project reached a tipping point when the PWD got involved and provided nearly $200,000 to install green infrastructure–namely, a rain garden in the southernmost part of the park–and advanced storm water management systems.

Boom–that’s all, right? It turns out that this is just the beginning.

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