Early Renderings for 1911 Walnut Leaked; Developer Says They’re Outdated

1911 Walnut

The proposed site of 1911 Walnut | Photo: James Jennings

If a popular development forum is to be believed, it looks like Southern Land Company has gigantic plans for 1911 Walnut–like, 600-foot high glass castle-type plans. But as the old saying goes, you can’t necessarily believe everything you see on the Internet.

Representatives from Southern Land Company have long said they envision an iconic development for the site, and according conceptual renderings posted to a thread on the Philadelphia forum (and subsequently on Facebook) of Skyscraper Page, a tower consisting of apartments and condos (as well as many balconies and a large, tree-lined terrace) will rise to 51 floors and top 600 feet. Multiple site plans show a large, multi-story retail and amenity podium fronting Walnut Street, and another on 20th Street that wraps around the corner and onto Sansom Street.

It’s quite a spectacular sight, to be sure, but are these designs the real deal?

Yes, the renderings are indeed legitimate, or at least they were, a spokesperson for Southern Land Company confirmed with Property. However, they are no longer accurate and are out of date.

“We have been meeting with neighborhood stakeholders over the last several months to obtain their input and are updating the renderings accordingly,” wrote Rebecca Divine in a follow up email. “We will release the latest and greatest within the next two weeks. We are excited be a part of Rittenhouse Square and Philadelphia and look forward to sharing our plans with the community.”

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Cherry on Top: Parkway Complex With Mega Whole Foods “Tops Out” Today

The Dalian

Rodin Square/The Dalian on the Park site from September | Photo: James Jennings

The development scene on the Ben Franklin Parkway is booming these days as multiple big-time projects–including a revamped luxury hotel, over 1,000 apartments, bridge and park improvements and more–are bringing all kinds of attention to Philly’s cultural corridor.

One such project, a massive mixed-use development dubbed Rodin Square, takes up about a full city block on a three-acre parcel bound by 21st ad 22nd streets, and Spring Garden Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Street (map). Dalian Development and International Financial Company (IFC), along with INTECH Construction, will officially “top out” the project today at a ceremony slated for noon.

The event will take place on the tricked-out “Skydeck” amenity terrance overlooking the Parkway, and mark a milestone in the construction process for the $160 million project. The groundbreaking took place in August 2014, and construction is expected to fully wrap up in summer of 2016. The apartments will be ready soon thereafter, but you’ll have to wait a tad longer for the gigantic Whole Foods Market to arrive–it’s scheduled to open in fall 2016.

So what will we have when the proverbial dust has settled? Let’s just say you can expect some big things.
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Glam It Up: Makeover of 40th Street Trolley Portal to Start in 2016

Rendering by Andropogon Associates via University City District website

Rendering by Andropogon Associates via University City District website

In case you missed it, the University City District has published its latest State of University City report, an annually-released compendium of the developments bubbling up in University City. The guide spotlights several sectors in U.C., among them academic, commercial, and residential, as well as the impact UCD itself has on this section of the city.

With relation to the latter, the release of the report came with the announcement that the 40th Street Trolley Portal transformation would be seeing its groundbreaking take place next year.

We previously reported the makeover project, spearheaded by UCD in partnership with SEPTA, the city, and neighborhood leaders, came with the aim of turning the bleak station into a lively social space with greenery and stormwater infrastructure, movable furniture, and arts and cultural programming.

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Rittenhouse Coffee Shop Spared, Its Two Neighbors Still on Chopping Block

The Rittenhouse Coffee Shop on the 1900 block of Sansom Street

The Rittenhouse Coffee Shop on the 1900 block of Sansom Street

We’ve devoted quite a bit of time to the 1911 Walnut project already. The fact that something, anything, was going to happen at the lot was one of our bold predictions for 2015, so it’s only natural that we check in on any and every happening with the project. Well, news is starting to come fast and furious and it’s been a mixed bag of sorts, especially on the preservation front.

As you probably know, Southern Land Company bought the massive L-shaped assemblage in February for $30 million and recently submitted an application to the Historical Commission to demolish a trio of buildings on the 1900 block of Sansom Street, the northern border of the property. The list includes the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop, the Warwick apartment building, and the O.H.Bair Funeral Home. The developer has claimed economic hardship and cited that it would be too costly to revive the handsome structures, even though they told us in February that they intended “to work with the historic commission to restore the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop and Warwick.”

Well, it looks like they’ve done a slight about-face, as the company announced on Friday that they’ve pulled back the demo application for one of the three buildings, specifically the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop.

“As a result of meetings with officials from the Preservation Alliance and the Center City Residents’ Association task force, Southern Land Company, as a demonstration of its ongoing commitment to principles of historic preservation, will withdraw its application to the Historical Commission for the demolition of the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop.”

However, as per the next sentence in the release, we also learn that its neighbors aren’t necessarily so lucky: “The previously submitted applications for the severely deteriorated Warwick apartment building and Oliver Bair funeral home will remain in place.”

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Schuylkill River Trail Update: Bartram’s Mile to Break Ground November 23rd

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

Would you like to see the Schuylkill River Trail become just a wee bit longer? Well, mark your calendars, folks, because the long-planned Bartram’s Mile trail, the future mile-long section of the Schuylkill River Trail, will break ground this Monday, November 23rd.

Commencing at 11:00am, the Monday groundbreaking will take place at Bartram’s Mile North and will count Mayor Michael Nutter, elected officials, Bartram’s Garden Executive Director Maitreyi Roy and others as speakers. The event is open to the public and will include light refreshments and ample free street parking. (Further details here.)

Image courtesy of SRDC | More renderings below.

Bartram’s Mile is set to run along the west Schuylkill riverbank from Grays Ferry Avenue to 56th Street and will eventually link to to the Schuylkill River Trail, thereby extending trail access to Southwest Philadelphia and historic Bartram’s Garden. How will this happen? Well, because Bartram’s Mile will be on the Schuylkill’s western bank (the first segment of the trail to be on this side), it will have to connect to the Gray’s Ferry Crescent trail on the eastern bank by way of a novel, though not unheard of, method: a swing bridge.

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Beyond 500 Walnut: Scannapieco Plans Second “Ultra-Luxury” Enclave in New Hope

Here's the setup of the Residences at Rabbit Run Creek | via Scannapieco Development Corporation

Here’s the setup of the Residences at Rabbit Run Creek | via Scannapieco Development Corporation

500 Walnut isn’t yet out of the ground and Tom Scannapieco, president and CEO of Scannapieco Development Corporation, already has his sights on his next project, and it’s one that will bring him “full circle,” so to speak.

That’s right, the ultra-luxury developer is going back to New Hope in Bucks County, and this time it’s in the form of a 37-unit townhome project called The Residences at Rabbit Run Creek.

According to a recent press release, site work is already underway and phase one, which include the first 10 homes (including a model), will open sometime in “late spring 2016.” If you’re keeping score at home, that’s almost a full year before 500 Walnut opens its doors to high-end (and possibly the highest-of-end) buyers in the Philadelphia marketplace.

The 23-acre plot of land is located entirely in New Hope near the lower field at Pat Livezey Park, but it directly borders Solebury Township. Reports began to circulate in late August that site work was starting to take place, and a notice for rock blasting went out beginning in early September, according to Charlie Sahner of New Hope Free Press.

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New Wave: Jumpstart Germantown’s Developer Mentorship Program off to Great Start

A man works inside a home on Boyer Street in Germantown | via Ken Weinstein

A man works inside a home on Boyer Street in Germantown | Images via Ken Weinstein

It’s been about eight months since we’ve checked in with developer Ken Weinstein regarding the Jumpstart Germantown program, an incubator of sorts for people looking to get their foot in the door of real estate development. Typically, we’re asking him about his various workings in private development through his company Philly Office Retail, but the success of the mentorship program has really started to take hold and make an impact.

“What’s really hit me about the program is how much pent up demand there is for people who want to be in economic development,” said Weinstein. He added that he wants to take that demand from mere “coffee table talk” to a reality.

Though it may not be one of the booming neighborhoods that ring Center City, Germantown is one of the most affordable (and historic) places in the city. Getting into town and around the region is a relative breeze, as it offers great access to nearby highways, two train lines and multiple bus routes. The neighborhood has a lot going for it, including a spruced up Vernon Park, a growing business district, and plenty of opportunity for those looking to responsibly redevelop the aging or vacant housing stock, an area in the neighborhood that’s in desperate need of reinvestment.

“Of all the things we’ve done in the last 10 years, Jumpstart Germantowwn is one of our most exciting projects,” beamed Weinstein, who administers the growing program with one other Philly Office Retail staffer. “It will have more impact than most anything else we’ve worked on.”

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Excitement Over Possible Fox Chase Lorimer Trail Grows in Northeast Philly

The proposed Fox Chase Lorimer Trail would run from the defunct rail bed across from Fox Chase Station in Northeast Philadelphia to the Pennypack Park Trail | Image via Google Earth | Click to enlarge

The proposed Fox Chase Lorimer Trail would run through the former rail bed across from Fox Chase Station in Northeast Philadelphia to Montgomery County’s Lorimer Trail. | Image via Google Earth

As it turns out, Bridesburg isn’t the only Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood getting to earnestly explore the viability of a new community green space. Further up the Great Northeast, Fox Chase has inched its way a tad closer to getting a long-desired amenity that’s been in talks for some time: the Fox Chase Lorimer Trail.

“We want to hear your ideas and we want to make sure this is okay with you before we go for funding,” explained Jeannette Brugger, Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator at the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities, during a Tuesday feasibility study meeting with Fox Chase residents. Much like the Bridesburg waterfront park project, the proposed FCL trail is still in the wee early stages of concept development, so it isn’t necessarily something that’s going to “happen next week or even next year.”

Should it come to fruition, however, the approximately half-mile trail would be a promising neighborhood amenity indeed. Extending from the start of the defunct Fox Chase-Newtown Line rail-bed (across from the Fox Chase Regional Rail Station) to Lorimer Trail in Montgomery County, which in turn links to the Pennypack Trail, the proposed FCL trail would be part of the Circuit Trail Network, a 750-mile regional trail system that connects Philadelphia to surrounding suburban and rural communities.

Currently, the Circuit Trail Network has about 350 miles built already and 50 miles in progress, said Chris Stanford, an engineering consultant from Michael Baker International, who is working with the feasibility study team. “There’s a goal to build another 400 miles on top of it,” he added. “This portion of the path could really connect a lot of different pieces for the neighborhood.”

Connectivity aside, the proposed trail could boost Fox Chase in other ways too.

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Revealed: The 7 West Philly Buildings Recently Purchased by Post Brothers

The Netherlands building at 4300 Chestnut | Google Street View

The Netherlands building at 4300 Chestnut | Google Street View

As we told you in late October, Post Brothers is betting big on the area in and around University City. While their plans will initially start with a massive renovation project at the Garden Court Plaza, an apartment house at 47th and Pine, the scope of their overall $250 million investment is now starting to be revealed.

Melissa Romero of Curbed Philly reports that Matthew Pestronk, president and co-founder of Post Brothers, unveiled their new West Philly portfolio at a meeting in front of the Spruce Hill Community Association this week. It contains no fewer than seven aging (and beautiful) buildings spread out all over the area, and Romero says that the developer wanted talk with residents in attendance and ease their concerns: “Everything here is historic. We are not tearing down any buildings.”

While a statement like that deserves pause, especially in light of the recent news about the three buildings on Sansom Street that Southern Land Company seeks to demolish, remember that it was Post Brothers who did the seemingly unthinkable and redeveloped the dilapidated Goldtex Building into a glistening apartment complex. They’re also in the thick of bringing Presidential City, a multi-building complex, back to life.

“We’ve never demolished any historic buildings, or any buildings. Period,” echoed Mike Pestronk, Matthew’s brother, in an interview with Property. The developers quietly assembled the West Philly properties from four different owners over the past two months. Pestronk said they’re presently working on two more potential acquisitions, “but it’s not a definite they will happen.”

Here’s the list of their new buildings in West Philly:

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Chinatown’s Eastern Tower Gets Groundbreaking Pushed to 2016 (Renderings)

Some things are worth the wait and Chinatown‘s long-discussed Eastern Tower is undoubtedly one of them. However, should things progress without a hitch, the wait for the long-planned 20-story building at 10th and Vine (map) could come to an end by next year.

Although we reported last year that the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, the project’s developer, was looking to break ground this fall, Flying Kite Media now says that’s been pushed back for financial reasons, though not of the strapped kind:

“We had initially thought that we wanted to break ground in the beginning of [2015], but we actually spent the bulk of this year strengthening our position financially,” explains [Sarah] Yeung. The last several months have brought significant contributions from PECO and Comcast, as major public and private funders took notice of the project’s traction.

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