Midday Headlines: Rittenhouse Club Horror Story

home for sale

New projects in and around the city are thriving (even if approvals can be cumbersome), but not all developments are created equal. Case in point: the Rittenhouse Club condo apartments in Norristown.

In an an article written for the Inquirer, Carolyn Davis tells the home buyer horror story that unfolded with a Norristown condo complex at its center.

The 26-unit project by developer R. Bruce Fazio cropped up with issues from the start. And not just cliché, annoying-leaky-pipes type of issues. No, more like scary naked wiring and wooden fire-escape staircase (what?!) issues. And it doesn’t stop there:

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UNIQLO Now Planning Four Area Stores

UNIQLOThe extremely trendy and fairly inexpensive clothing retailer UNIQLO is invading the region: first, a store opened in the King of Prussia Mall. Then stores were announced for Center City’s Chestnut Street and the Willow Grove Park Mall. Now, Shoppist reports that the Tokyo-based company is coming to South Jersey as well, to the Cherry Hill Mall:

A rep confirms that the store will open on September 26th, just a week before the October 3rd opening at 1608 Chestnut Street. It will be on the main level, sandwiched between a Bath & Body Works and an Abercrombie & Fitch. If you’re counting, this is four UNIQLO stores to open region in less than a year. World domination next? (Or maybe just Delaware.)

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Morning Headlines: Main Line Takes Steps Toward Revitalization

150 monument road bala cynwyd screenshot

Photo credit: Google Street View

A 207-unit apartment has been proposed for 150 Monument Road in Bala Cynwyd, a project to be presented before the Lower Merion Township Planning Commission this Monday.

The Main Line Times’ Cheryl Allison says the planned six-story building would be situated on a seven-acre plot in Bala Cynwyd that currently hosts another six-story building used for office space. Allison also reports the project includes a central courtyard with pool deck, commercial/restaurant space (3,700 square feet), and a four-story parking garage, which is to have 673 parking spaces, 207 of which would be for apartment tenants.

The proposed development is one of many (some of which are already in progress), and the result of revitalization goals for the City Avenue commercial district:
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Postgreen Offers Peek At Its Next Project

postrgreen-trenton-ave

Trenton Avenue, which begins in the triangle where Fishtown, East Kensington and Port Richmond overlap, is a broad thoroughfare that once was a bustling industrial corridor. Now, save for one day a year, it’s mostly a quiet residential street.

Chad Luderman, CEO of Postgreen Homes, believes this transformation was a mistake. Not that he wants to bring back industry, but rather, it’s that a street this wide makes for a natural commercial corridor. (It certainly makes a great setting for an arts festival and kinetic sculpture race.)

It may be too late to add commerce to the rest of the street, but Luderman’s going to at least try to salvage a little stretch of it.

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New Tower Could Rise on Rittenhouse Square After All

A rendering of Castleway's pre-recession proposal, courtesy of Skyscraper Page

A rendering of Castleway’s pre-recession proposal, courtesy of Skyscraper Page

Irish developer Castleway Properties is again working on plans for a luxury condo tower and boutique hotel on a prominent vacant lot on Rittenhouse Square. Castleway had proposed something similar for the site in 2007, but the proposal collapsed during the recession. Then, in 2013, megadeveloper Toll Brothers showed interested in purchasing the lot, but earlier this year the sale fell through and Toll Brothers walked away.

Castleway now appears to again be moving forward on its own. According to a May Center City District report, Castleway is planning a 150-unit, 350,000-square-foot condo tower, 25,000 square feet of retail space, a 200,000-square-foot hotel, and four levels of underground parking. That sounds very similar to the pre-recession proposal, which called for a 525-foot glass tower (rendering above).

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Financing Secured for Rodin Square Apartments

A rendering of Rodin Square, courtesy of the project's developers

A rendering of Rodin Square, courtesy of the project’s developers

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the 293-unit apartment building to be part of the planned Rodin Square complex has received a $20 million loan to finance its groundbreaking. The complex, which was approved in the fall, will face the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and take up much of the block bounded by 21st, 22nd, Spring Garden, and Hamilton streets. In addition to the residences, it will include a 55,000-square-foot Whole Foods with underground parking, a “sky park” with an outdoor pool for residents, several commercial spaces, and a parking garage for residents.

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Morning Headlines: Will Old City Finally Get Its Skyscraper?

Rendering of 205 Race Street Photo credit: 205Race.com

Rendering of 205 Race Street
Photo credit: 205Race.com

First, the Old City Civic Association was less than happy about its height. Then, complicated zoning matters stalled progress, topped off with Keystone Outdoor Advertising getting miffed because the building would block one of their billboards from view. So will this third attempt finally see a conclusion to the planned 205 Race development?

According to PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey, the Historical Commission’s architecture committee will review the latest plans for Brown Hill Development’s mixed-use project this Tuesday.

Plans include “148 rental units, 28 parking spaces, 51 bike parking spaces, and more than 14,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.” Additionally, architect Peter Gluck had addressed KOA’s cries by adjusting the building’s design to keep the billboard in view (it’s even featured in the newest renderings).

And that’s not all:

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Morning Headlines: A Northwest Philly High Line?

manayunk canal

Photo by Liz Spikol.

The Manayunk Bridge Trail Project got a Notice to Proceed from the city, meaning construction can begin. The idea is to connect the Cynwyd Heritage Trail to the Schuylkill River Trail via the Manayunk Bridge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Like many other local railroad structures, the bridge has been out of use for many years. Now it will be part of a bike/walk trail that will extend to Main Street, and even make it possible to walk from Manayunk to Lower Merion. Hopefully, this means more Philadelphians will discover the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.

There are even more heartening connections that will result:

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Video: The Latest Look Inside the Divine Lorraine

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Oh, ye of little faith. That’s probably what developer Eric Blumenfeld wants to tell every naysayer who laughed when he bought the Divine Lorraine for the second time with dreams of turning it into a school or apartment complex. Now Blumenfeld has the funding to start renovations in about two months, according to his interview with KYW NewsRadio’s Hadas Kuznits, which draws out more of the story. Kuznits has also posted a number of YouTube videos in which she and Blumenfeld tour the site as it stands today. Last chance, most likely, to see it in its decrepit form.

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Morning Headlines: Proposed Hotel Near Convention Center Clears Hurdle

The existing building, courtesy of this sale flyer

PlanPhilly reports that a proposal to construct a 12-story addition atop the former Warner Bros. distribution center on 13th Street just north of the Pennsylvania Convention Center received approval from the Philadelphia Historical Commission on July 11, and has video of the meeting. An earlier version of the proposal was rejected in June by the commission’s Architecture Committee.

The two-story Art Moderne building, designed by Frank Furness protege William H. Lee, was recently listed as being for sale for $2.75 million. It is currently owned by Big Brothers Big Sisters.

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