The Civic Design Review Committee may not have the final say as to which projects get the go-ahead, but yesterday their approval of Comcast’s proposed Innovation and Technology Center, designed by London architect Norman Foster, ended the regulatory process for the building. Developers are now permits away from commencing construction this summer.
City-owned blight may be the hardest to get rid of, but in the meantime Licenses and Inspections has been making an effort where it can. Yesterday, L&I petitioned City Council for an additional $2 million to their funding.
If Council approves the request, according to the Inquirer’s Claudia Vargas, L&I believes it could “demolish 650 buildings and seal 1,400 in the fiscal year that starts July 1, and hire an additional 34 employees, including 26 building inspectors.”
Aquinas Realty plans to break ground tomorrow on AQ Rittenhouse, a 12-story mixed-use building at 2021 Chestnut. There’ll be restaurant/retail space on the first floor and 110 residential units, with plenty of amenities: a sky terrace, secure covered parking, a fitness center and a “dog washing room.”
The previous building on the site, the YWCA annex, had been vacant since the early 1990s and was seriously blighted by the time it was torn down to make room for something new.
Earlier this year we noted how North Third Street had lost two neighborhood staples with the closing of the Three Sirens Boutique and Ligne Roset. But like warm weather sneaking in day by day, so too has new retail been springing up around the area.
Old City: Erdon and Philadelphia Independents
Ligne Roset’s former spot, 162 North Third, is now taken by Erdon, whose owner tells Shoppist the space is a tad small. But hey, with the included storage area, they’re sure to figure out where to put the extra merch. Some three blocks down, Philadelphia Independents, which will carry repurposed furniture and miscellaneous home decor, among other things, is moving in at 35 North Third (pictured above).
A younger, better educated, upwardly mobile horde has descended on Philadelphia, transforming swaths of the city into something barely recognizable to old-timers. This demographic touched off a residential building boom last year, the single strongest positive indicator of the city’s rebound, according to the Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative’s latest “Philadelphia: State of the City” update.
More than half of all Philadelphians are now under the age of 35, and 26 percent are between the ages of 20 and 34, when young adults are in the process of launching careers and households. Building places for these residents to live has become a growth industry: in 2013, the city issued building permits for 2,815 new housing units, the most in a decade. That new construction has an estimated value of $465 million, the highest on record.
All SEPTA riders know that City Hall/15th Street Station is, at best, unappetizing. According to Sandy Smith, it is the only station on the Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines that has gone untouched for at least 30 years. Some SEPTA riders may also know that for a while now, the agency has been promising to redo the whole thing.
Well, according to SEPTA, that’ll actually start to happen in the coming years thanks to the November passage of Act 89, the state’s transportation funding bill. Last week SEPTA quietly released its proposed capital budget and program for the coming years, and it includes $146 million between 2015 and 2026 for the project, which had previously been deferred due to lack of funding. The promised improvements: elevators throughout, more open space on the Broad Street Line platforms, new ventilation in re-opened air shafts, new architectural finishes and signage, new fare lines, platforms raised to car door height, redone inter-station corridors, and public art.
Let’s just get this out of the way: There is no actual forensic, DNA-firm, hold-up-in-court evidence that Wegmans is coming to downtown Philadelphia. None whatsoever. Reputable, in-the-know sources have scuttled the scuttlebutt, which first popped up last month with the announcement of Bart Blatstein’s proposed development at Broad and Washington (floorplans and more info below, by the way). For instance:
Passyunk Post: “A source who would know, but who required anonymity, told us that in no uncertain terms, Wegmans ‘is definitely NOT coming to Broad and Washington.’
Naked Philly: “So could [Wegmans] really be happening?!?! Unfortunately, our sources tell us that it isn’t. As was the case previously, we’re hearing that the likely tenant will be a Superfresh or a Giant.”
A Wegmans spokesperson — someone called someone! because reporting! — told the Passyunk Post “they have no plans for a location in Philly proper.”
Without fanfare, the city and the state have included millions of dollars in their latest budgets toward the first phase of the project: transforming the quarter-mile railroad “spur” that curves through the city’s burgeoning Loft District and dead-ends onto North Broad Street.
The news comes months after the Reading Viaduct Project and Friends of the Rail Park, two local organizations who’ve been pushing for development of the abandoned rail line, joined forces last October.
• Elevated park on rail viaduct finally firming up [Philly.com]
Meanwhile, in other news…
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A five-story building with 32 residential units and some retail is proposed for a lot previously used by the Jamaican Jerk Hut on the 1400 block of South Street. This mixed-use project will also be accompanied by three single-family homes and a carriage house (to be constructed directly behind it on Kater Street).
JKR Partners designed the buildings, but may yet have to do some tweaking in coming weeks before anything is set in stone. As brokers for the project, OFC Realty has published project renderings on their website, Naked Philly, and are asking for feedback.
• We’ve Got Renderings of the New South Street West Project [Naked Philly]
More news this way…
Philadelphia’s La Salle University announced today that it plans to build a new campus store and health and fitness center on its main campus in North Philadelphia. The 10,000 square foot building will also feature a cafe or market accessible from both the one-story store and two-story fitness center.
The building will be located between the university’s Connelly Library and its Hayman Center athletic complex, on Olney Avenue. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and wrap up by spring 2015.
Cost is estimated to fall somewhere between $4 million and $5 million. The architect is the Baltimore firm Hord Coplan Macht, which has done a number of other education projects.
Image: La Salle University