Is the Former Please Touch Museum Site Going to be Demolished?

The former Please Touch Museum Site at 208-212 N. 21st St. | Photo: James Jennings

The former Please Touch Museum Site at 208-212 N. 21st St. | Photo: James Jennings

Here’s an interesting nugget of information found in a document of the January minutes of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA). As you’ll read in topic #7 under the Zoning Committee report, Toll Brothers has “an agreement” to buy the former Please Touch Museum site at 208-212 North 21st Street (near Race). Fast forward to February, where minutes show that a meeting with near neighbors took place on January 28. Initial plans called to knock down the building in favor of a five-story (58-feet high) condo building housing “approximately 35 units” with balconies and underground parking accessed from Van Pelt Street.

Unsurprisingly, the proposal was met with “unanimous opposition” from near neighbors, who also deemed it “unacceptable” due to its size and it being “out of character with the rest of our neighborhood,” according to the doc. Ed Panek, LSNA’s zoning committee chair, would not comment on the project. When asked about the project, Michael Duff, marketing director at Toll Brothers, said, Read more »

New Habitat for Humanity ReStore Coming to Washington Avenue in June

Photo via Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia blog

Rendering via Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia blog

Point Breeze and Grays Ferry are two of Philly’s many up-and-coming ‘hoods, and we just caught wind of a small project adding to that slow but sustained spark of revitalization that may soon catch on: a Habitat for Humanity ReStore is coming to 23rd and Washington.

The latest addition to Washington Avenue is a mark of change on the South Philly strip, which locals like the Washington Avenue Property Owners Association have been trying to transform into a bustling business / retail corridor. As of recently, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted in favor of recommending “a new zoning overlay for Washington Avenue west of Broad Street,” according to Jared Brey over at PlanPhilly. The temporary overlay blocks undesirables from setting up shop on the avenue while community groups, the Commission, and the office of Councilman Kenyatta Johnson “work on long-term planning.” Undesirables include strip clubs, junk yards, storage facilities, car-oriented uses and more.

Read more »

Report: Brandywine Realty Trust Paid $17 Million for Basciano Garage

618 Market Street vi Google Street View

618 Market Street vi Google Street View

UPDATE (04/24, 12:00 p.m.): Gerard Sweeney, CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, said the company is considering a mixed-use development at this site, according to Jacob Adelman in a business roundup report on Philly.com. While no specific plans are in place, the site “could accommodate at least 600,000 square-feet” of development. That’s a pretty tasty proposition, as Brandywine’s 29-story luxury apartment tower at 1919 Market Street is 455,000 square-feet of space.

ORIGINAL (04/23): It’s confirmed: Brandywine Realty Trust now owns the mixed-use parking garage at 7th and Market Street. According to Joe DiStefano of The Inquirer, the Radnor-based development giant paid $17 million for the “concrete heap” that’s centrally located between a bunch of glossy new projects and Independence Hall. In a separate deal, Brandywine also unloaded $50.75 million worth of office parks in Delaware to Buccini/Pollin Group, including Delaware Corporate Center and Christiana Office Park. Read more »

Renderings: What Select Free Library Branches Will Look Like Post-Renovations

Rendering of Parkway Central Library common room

Rendering of Parkway Central Library common room

Since learning that the William Penn Foundation has endowed $25 million to the Free Library of Philadelphia for their Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative, we’ve been looking forward to seeing renderings and work starting on the branches selected for the initiative’s pilot phase. “Through this multi-phase, multi-faceted initiative, the Free Library will transform physically and programmatically,” said the September press release.

Sounds wonderful, especially since Parkway Central won’t be the only branch due for some sprucing up: Lovett Memorial Library, Tacony Library, Lillian Marrero Library, South Philadelphia Library, and Logan Library will all see their built environment, technology, and “unique programmatic focus” tailored to making them better community resources.

Read more »

The Parker Spruce Hotel Officially Sold, What’s Next?

The Parker Spruce Hotel | via Google Street View

The Parker Spruce Hotel | via Google Street View

It’s official, the Gayborhood’s Parker Spruce Hotel has been sold.

A fire tore through the 9th floor back in October, forcing the building, including the Westbury Bar, to close down indefinitely. The Philadelphia Gay News reported in November that owner Spruce Hotel Corporation had a deal in place to sell the building to The Wankawala Organization, a hospitality company that was in charge of leasing and looked to rehab the property and partner with a boutique hotelier.

The Wankawala Organization owns and operates a few hotels in the region, including a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Quakertown, and managing director Mihir Wankawala told us that they plan to Read more »

Better Runways, Automated People Mover Officially Coming to PHL Airport

Alright, just hold your horses for a minute. Action News may be psyched about the “long-awaited multi-billion-dollar expansion project” in store for the Philadelphia International Airport, but the truth is the agreement was made in principal a year ago. In fact, today’s ceremony was simply a formal signing that allows some of the on-hold projects within PHL’s Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP) to happen.

So what will the CEP do? Here’s how the press release describes it:

The CEP is a comprehensive program to modernize Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) over the next 12-15 years. It is an investment in airfield, terminal and cargo projects and will improve operational efficiencies, enhance customer experiences and increase the region’s global connectivity at one of the nation’s busiest airports.

Read more »

Headlines: Developers to the State, You Know What’s Cool? A Billion Dollars

We just love highlighting all the big-time developments in this city. Hell, we devoted almost an entire issue to the “New Boom” back in March. But how do projects like the W Hotel, East Market The Gallery, the SLS International Hotel & Residences and even the Divine Lorraine get funded? A decent amount of it oftentimes comes from matching funds from the state in the form of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP). In fact, Joe DiStefano of The Inquirer reports that “developers, corporations, colleges, hospitals and towns” have requested over $1 billion in funds from the state. Last year, Gov. Tom Corbett saw $1.1 billion in requests, but only “funded $207 million of projects.”

Philly alone at 66 requests, some goodies from this year include:

Highlights from the ‘burbs include:

DiStefano reports that Gov. Tom Wolf is actually seeking more requests for RACP funding. Check out the full list at the link below.

Developers ask Penna. for $1 billion+ [The Inquirer]

More Headlines For Your Enjoyment!

Read more »

Coming to a (Boyd) Theater Near You: Apartments, Retail, or a Restaurant!

A photo posted by Leah Coonan (@leahcreation) on


Since having demolition start on its auditorium last month, we bet some of you have been wondering just what the heck is going to go down with the Boyd Theatre. Well, for those who’ve been keeping up on Property and had your fingers crossed for a proposed brand new multiplex by iPic, those plans for the Boyd (which were very enticing, admittedly) have been scrapped a while ago. Here’s what the Inquirer’ Matt Gelb writes will happen instead:

[…] a restaurant or retail store will instead occupy the expansive lobby built in 1928. Above it, 238 apartments in a 27-story tower will overlook a neglected block of Chestnut Street.

These plans were set in motion last week by an approved building permit for a litany of properties at 19th and Chestnut.

Gasp!?

Nah, I mean this was kind of expected if you had noticed that developer Pearl Properties had pretty much acquired the “entire stretch from the Boyd east to the corner at 1900 Chestnut Street” before buying the Boyd itself for $4.5 million in October–essentially securing, in other words, a larger footprint for a residential tower they had long ago proposed for the corner of 19th and Chestnut. The development is now “subject to review,” but does not require zoning variances, which means it could be up for a quick approval. The permit states the tower is not to exceed 315 feet in height and plans to contain 66 parking spaces, 99 bike parking spots and three loading docks. It will be a mix of retail, office and residential space.

As for the Boyd?

Headlines: Wynnewood’s Historic William Penn Inn Saved

Do you remember feeling a stiff breeze on the night of April 15 around the area of Wynnewood? It wasn’t due to a tornado watch, it was the collective sigh of relief from those preservation advocates trying to save the historic William Penn Inn on East Lancaster Avenue in Lower Merion Township.

Built in 1799 by Joseph Price, the inn was set to be demolished in favor for a denser residential development by Rayer Builders. The Main Line Times reports the unanimous vote last Thursday granted “conditional use relief and approve a preliminary plan of land development for the property.” The inn will be restored and house condominiums and three new single-family homes will be built on the site.

As part of conditional use approval, the inn’s developer, William Penn Inn Partners, will place a permanent conservation covenant on the structure. Previously listed as a Class 2 historic resource, it was subject to demolition after a maximum 90-day delay.

 

 Roar, Little Lion, Roar! Read more »

Urban Outfitters’ ‘Lifestyle Village’ in Devon Could Take First Step Forward

An artist's rendering of preliminary plans for Urban Outfitters' $100 million Devon Yard complex, as viewed from the northeast. (Image courtesy of Urban Outfitters)

From 2013: An artist’s rendering of preliminary plans for Urban Outfitters’ $100 million Devon Yard complex, as viewed from the northeast. (Image courtesy of Urban Outfitters)

It looks like a big-time project in the ‘burbs will soon be awakened from its slumber. Developers Waterloo Devon L.P. (an Eli Kahn company), along with Urban Outfitters (URBN) and Anthropologie, will head before the Easttown Township Planning Commission to seek a recommendation for an amendment to the zoning code that would ultimately allow the Devon Yard project to move forward under a special Overlay District on the site at Lancaster Avenue and Devon Boulevard. The public meeting will be held on April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Hilltop House, 570 Beaumont Road, Devon.

Back in 2013, the development team announced a lifestyle village what would include retail, another garden center, multiple restaurants and a boutique hotel called the Devon Inn, the “driver” of the community. Until recently, those plans haven’t really gone anywhere, but they have appeared to have changed a bit. Read more »

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