The East Passyunk Avenue Gateway is Coming Along Nicely (Photos)

The East Passyunk Avenue Gateway | Photo: James Jennings

The East Passyunk Avenue Gateway | Photo: James Jennings

The new plaza at the wonky intersection where East Passyunk Avenue meets Broad and McKean streets is coming together quite nicely. The construction fence has recently come down and a few benches, plantings and even the metal pavilion have been installed on the triangular public space.

Sam Sherman, executive director of Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation (PARC), told us that the plaza is still very much in progress, but it’s getting there. More street furniture–namely tables and benches–is set to be installed this week.High-tech lighting will play a major placemaking role in the new plaza.

A heavy duty steel pole still needs to be installed and it will eventually project colored lights on the ground and on the McKean Street side of the adjacent Citizens Bank. The LED lights have already been affixed to the pavilion and the benches will get LED treatments as well. Sherman also said that lighting will be able to be projected onto the clouds, much like you see at a movie premiere, and really stamp home the fact that this will be the gateway to East Passyunk Avenue and all it has to offer. “Hopefully, you’ll be able to see it from Center City,” Sherman added. The whole she-bang will be computer controlled and the patterns and colors can be changed for seasonal usage and events.

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Chestnut Hill Firehouse Deemed Historic, New One on the Way

The firehouse is now on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places | via Google Street View

The firehouse is now on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places | via Google Street View

The Philadelphia Historical Commission has decided to historically designate Engine 37 at 101 W. Highland Ave. in Chestnut Hill. The implications of the unanimous vote are actually two-fold, reports Jana Shea of Newsworks.

First and foremost, the facade of oldest active fire house in the city will remain intact. The station dates back to 1894 and was designed by John T. Windrim, whose work also includes the Franklin Institute (among others). Secondly, even with its historic, yet antiquated, charm (i.e. narrow garage doors), the facade will remain as-is and that means Chestnut Hill will be getting a new station fit for the modern needs of fighting fire in its place. Here’s more from Shea on what looks like a major win-win for all parties involved:

Where the future station might be located has yet to be settled, but the [Chestnut Hill Fire House Coalition] believes building a new state-of-the-art facility on an empty lot next to the fire house is the most viable option available … [Coalition member Patricia] Cove says the hope is to keep the existing fire house in use as separate sleeping quarters, kitchen and dining area, plus equipment storage for Engine 37 firefighters.

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Spotted: Three Luxe Townhomes Break Ground at 22nd and Lombard

Rendering courtesy of Philly Living

Rendering courtesy of Philly Living/JKRP Architects

Sure, Philadelphia’s building boom is due in large part to massive developments like 500 Walnut and the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center (just to name a few). But it’s also got a series of smaller projects springing forth that are helping it along. The latest one to break ground? Three luxury townhomes at the corner of 22nd and Lombard.

According to a press release from Philly Living, the residences at 2143-47 Lombard Street are each due to have a full-floor master suite, elevator, finished basement with guest and media rooms, and a full-floor roof deck with beverage cooler, built-in speakers and lighting, and connections for a gas grill. Mmmh, we can already smell the upcoming BBQs…

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New Narberth Avenue Bridge to Feature Site-Specific Art Installations

The artistic element will be installed in the long yellow strip | Design: VSBA/Narberth Borough

The artistic element will be installed in the long yellow strip | Design: VSBA/Narberth Borough

Narberth Borough has put out a request for qualification (RFQ) for “an artist to create a site-specific, integrated artistic enhancement in conjunction with the construction of the new Narberth Avenue bridge,” according to its website.

The bridge has reached the end of its useful life and to show how important the look of this span is to the borough, they’ve brought in Venturi Scott Brown (VSBA) to assist Pennoni Engineers in its design. “We envisioned the bridge both as a connector between the downtown and residential neighborhood and as a gateway between them — as well as an opportunity to enhance the borough’s identity,” according to the project description on VSBA’s website.

On top of that, Narberth wants this project to stand out and harken back to a time when infrastructure projects were a big deal:

“The hope is that the project can draw inspiration from the time when infrastructure was a matter of civic pride and when ornamentation was considered an integral part of building projects, to commemorate or communicate important civic concepts or narratives.”

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It’s Official: Developer Sets Groundbreaking Date for 205 Race Project

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.25.40 PM

205 Race/The Bridge, looking west | Rendering: Volley Studio

Earlier this week, we put you onto to the news that construction permits were granted for the 205 Race project in Old City. At the time, no groundbreaking had been set in stone, but we had heard that an announcement was forthcoming. Fast forward a few days and a rep from the project has confirmed that a groundbreaking is now scheduled for August 5 at the site.

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Divine Lorraine Update: Four “Vetri-Caliber” Restaurants Planned

Photo: Jeff Fusco

Photo: Jeff Fusco

It’s not a dream, people. The long-planned transformation of the Divine Lorraine Hotel into a luxury apartment building starting to become a reality. It’s now fully funded and Chris Cordaro, vice president with EB Realty Management (EBRM), has let us in on some tantalizing tidbits of information regarding the mother of all redevelopment projects, as well as a few others EBRM properties.

Though Billy Procida, the investor behind the project, said that construction could start on the Divine Lorraine by the end of July, Cordaro tells us they’re currently planning a groundbreaking event of sorts at the site, “probably in early August.”

As you know, New York-based developer RAL is planning a large scale apartment tower/grocery store directly next to the Divine Lorraine on Ridge Avenue. Cordaro said the the two groups have been collaborating closely to make sure the buildings work with each other. As such, a shared green wall will be erected alongside the “Garden Veranda” level of the Divine Lorraine.

That brings us to the retail portion of the project. Cordaro mentioned that they’ve identified restaurateurs for the commercial space, which will now be four new restaurant concepts “of the Vetri-caliber” and not high end retailers.

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Headlines: Planning Commission Greenlights North 5th Street Projects

5th and Fairmount | via Phila.gov

5th and Fairmount | via Phila.gov

Two large residential projects on North 5th Street received the blessing of the Planning Commission this week, reports Jared Brey of PlanPhilly.

U.S. Construction is developing 43-units at 5th and Fairmount. The project will also include a corner retail space and a green central courtyard. John Farina, developer/builder with U.S. Construction told us in June that they could start construction as early as August. Brey reports the project will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on July 29th, as a variance is needed for multi-family use.

The Planning Commission also considered a 23-building, 45-unit project on 5th and Thompson Street. Similar to the 5th and Fairmount development, plans include a corner retail space, but also a community dog park on Orkney Street. Brey notes that developer Sean Frankel addressed some feedback heard during Civic Design Review process, “[Frankel] had the layout reorganized so that all the living quarters are above grade. In addition, the developer added landscaping elements to the parking area to meet the 10-percent requirement of the zoning code.”

More Real Estate (and Ramen) Headlines:

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The Latest Word on Market Street West

Could Market Street West really be waking up? We said it last week, and now the Inquirer’s latest article on the the Murano, the 43-story condo tower at 2101 Market, is driving the thought even further by saying it’s the living manifestation of the change.

First, though, an update on the tract of Market Street land newly acquired by Brandywine Realty Trust: we now know how much it cost. According to Inky’s Jacob Adelman, city documents show Brandywine paid up $16.6 million for the 37,000-square-foot plot. As we told you previously, the site is on the 2100 block’s southern side near the planned June 5th Memorial Park. Whatever they have planned for the spot, we’ll keep you posted.

But back to “West Market Street Rising” news: Alan J. Heavens reports the Murano, a high-rise completed back in 2008 for a total sum of $165 million, could be the true-life embodiment of “the Center City condo market’s turnaround.” From the Inquirer:

Next month, the last of the Murano’s 302 original units will go to settlement – a milestone that local real estate observers consider not only a measure of market strength but a 180-degree turnaround in the perception of the viability of that Market Street West.

“The area between 20th Street and the Schuylkill River is clearly filling in the dead zones with new residential and mixed-use projects,” said developer Carl Dranoff.

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Is Construction About to Kick Off at 205 Race in Old City?

The lot at 205 Race as of June 2014 | Google Street View

The lot at 205 Race as of June 2014 | Google Street View

The long and winding road of the 205 Race development in Old City looks as though it’s about to reach an important milestone. You might even call it groundbreaking (pun intended).

After years of planning, controversy and multiple design tweaks, construction permits were recently posted on the site at 2nd and Race, the longtime home of a surface parking lot.

The permits provide a glimpse of what exactly is to come–a 17-story building with parking in the basement level, a retail space on the ground floor and 146 “dwelling units.” We haven’t heard an exact date for the groundbreaking, only that one is currently being planned.

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Headlines: Take a Look at the Upcoming One Liberty Observation Deck (VIDEO)

The upcoming Philly from the Top | Photo: Cory J. Popp

The upcoming One Liberty Observation Deck, aka Philly From the Top | Photo: Cory J. Popp

Philly From the Top, a ticketed observation deck on the 57th floor of One Liberty, is slated to open in the fall. Slowly but surely, images of the ongoing construction have started to trickle out, but do we have something special for you.

Remember those videos from Cory J. Popp a few weeks ago that gave you a nearly unprecedented look at the skyline from the top of some of Philly’s tallest buildings? Chances are good that, unless you know a guy, you won’t be getting too many opportunities to touch the sky in such a manner. That is, of course, until Philly From the Top opens. Now, Popp takes us beyond the pictures and serves up a stunning video of the city from high above the street. Only this time, it’s in the (pretty raw looking) space atop a tower that stretches to 945-feet at its apex. Also, it’s behind glass.

When complete (probably after Labor Day), Philly From the Top will provide 360-degree views of the city. It will be operated by Paris-based Montparnasse 56 Group and surely be a fun #PhillyScape hashtag to follow along with on Instagram. As for ticket prices, sales “go live just before opening with general admission set at $14 for youth (ages 3 – 11) and $19 for adults,” according to a recent press release. A restaurant/cafe was in the plans when it was announced in December. However, a rep from the company said in an email, “at this point the Montparnasse 56 team does not have any plans for a café or restaurant in the space.”

This post was updated to include the ticket prices and also to note that the cafe is not in current plans. 

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