The Rittenhouse Coffee Shop and Warwick Building Included in Southern Land Deal

Yesterday, we told you about the Southern Land Company’s deal to purchase the vacant lot at 1907-14 Walnut Street and also the parcel at 1906-1920 Sansom Street, which includes the surface parking lot, Oliver H. Bair funeral home, and the Warwick Apartment building. Today, we’ve received confirmation that the deal also includes The Rittenhouse Coffee Shop, a beautiful building at 1904 Sansom Street that’s more of an art installation these days. So what will become of these handsome, if vacant, buildings on Sansom Street now that there are new owners are on the scene?

“Southern Land intends to work with the historic commission to restore the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop and Warwick,” Jessica Sharp, spokesperson for the company, said in an email. While the role of these buildings in the overall project is still uncertain, what’s clear is that Southern Land is excited about the deal.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had the chance to work on such an iconic spot,” said Tim Downey, CEO of Southern Land Company. “I think that Center City, and University City, is such a gem.” Downey reiterated the importance of the deal and getting the future development right, “It will probably be the last building built on The Square for a long time to come.” Read more »

Rendering Alert: Hotel, Jazz Club, and So Much More Proposed in Fishtown

An early rendering of the proposed hotel. This is not the final design. | Photo courtesy of Roland Kassis

An early rendering of Kassis’ vision. Note this is not the final design. | Photo courtesy of Roland Kassis

The hotel rumors surrounding 1224 Frankford Avenue, otherwise identified as that five-story structure with the Shepard Fairey mural on its side, have finally been laid out by developer Roland Kassis during a Fishtown Neighbor Association meeting last night.

According to PhillyLiving’s Sandy Smith, Kassis intends to convert the former industrial building into a hotel and co-working space, and has plans to build an addition that would house a jazz club, a portion of the hotel lobby, “the bulk of the co-working facility,” and a banquet hall and restaurant. Not only that, but Smith adds that another building would be added north of addition:

To its north will rise a six-story building almost as tall as the existing structure; it will contain more co-working space, trash storage and support space, a street-level restaurant, the building’s loading dock, and 125 hotel rooms arrayed around an interior courtyard that will also contain outdoor seating space for the restaurant. A pool tops off this new structure.

Read more »

BLT Architects to Design New Gateway for Nebinger School Project

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

This should comes as a refreshing change amidst the usual messiness surrounding Philly schools:  the George W. Nebinger School in Queen Village has inched its way closer to its goal of installing green stormwater management infrastructure, and has even acquired the services of BLT Architects.

Image by BLT Architects, courtesy of Slice Communications.

Image by BLT Architects.

The project, first proposed back in 2013, has just had its design finalized (click the concept study images to enlarge them), but a groundbreaking date for the outdoor classroom, vegetable garden, and play yard equipment is still up in the air while supporters of the project, namely Friends of Nebinger and The Big Sandbox, work on raising funds. The the rain water garden, meanwhile, is already built.

Read more »

Morning Headlines: Parcel on Delaware Waterfront Seeks Expressions of Interest

Master Plan for the Central Delaware. Photo via the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

Master Plan for the Central Delaware.
Photo via the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

Now here’s an exciting update for developers looking for a piece of the Delaware waterfront: the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has put out a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) for a parcel located at Spring Garden Street and Delaware Ave/Columbus Blvd. The space, known as the Festival Pier site, has already undergone predevelopment work.

According to the release, the property plays a significant role in the Central Delaware Master Plan as it’s “the second largest publicly-owned parcel on the waterfront” after Penn’s Landing. The Master Plan has previously pinpointed the site as “a location for a landmark, high-quality development” because of its potential to “extend the growth and vibrancy of the nearby neighborhoods” to the waterfront. The space is currently zoned CMX-3, or mixed-use residential.

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The Divine Lorraine Will Be Reborn, Just Not As a Hotel


Photo: Jeff Fusco


Remember those plans to turn the Divine Lorraine into a boutique hotel? Scrap ‘em. “We want to see this project get done now,” said Chris Cordaro of EB Realty Management. “It’s a better project if it gets done today rather than five or 10 years down the road,” he added, who said the hotel is feasible at the location but it’s too long of a development process. So, what’s in store for one of Philadelphia’s most intriguing buildings? Well, let’s just say it goes way beyond fancy drone videos.

Plans now include 126 apartments and two levels of retail, including a lower-level “Garden Veranda” that will expose the southern side of the building and activate it as a retail corridor along Ridge Avenue. The 20,000 square-foot main level will incorporate both retail and the lobby.

Read more »

Official: Southern Land Company Closes on Vacant Rittenhouse Lot

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

Well, it’s official: Southern Land Company has finally closed on the vacant L-shaped parcels at 1907-1914 Walnut Street and 1906-1920 Sansom Street. Details about the sale have not been disclosed, but a press release from Southern Land Company announces “the purchase of the last undeveloped parcel of land on Rittenhouse Square.” Here’s more:

“This is a premier property in one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Philadelphia,” said Tim Downey, CEO of Southern Land Company. “This is a great example of the type of project in which our company excels. In this case the property is in the heart of a desirable area where we plan to invest a great amount of energy and resources, working closely with the city and neighborhood groups.”

Read more »

Historic Dye Works Building on Fairmount to Become Mixed-Use Loft Space

A photo posted by mmpartners (@mmpartners) on

Stepping outside their usual haunt in Brewerytown, MM Partners has embarked on an adaptive reuse project involving the old A.F. Bornot Dye works factory on the border of Spring Garden and Fairmount.  The historic structure designed by Werner Trumbower will be redeveloped into a mixed-use space with several loft homes set to open their doors by the end of this summer.

David Waxman of MM Partners says the property, which is actually made up for four buildings at 1626-44 Fairmount Avenue and 1615-29 Melon Street, will offer 15,000 square feet of retail and commercial space taken up by a “bank branch, yoga, home goods store, coffee shop/cafe,” and possibly a gym. Seventeen of the residential units will be “high end loft apartments,” while two others will be for-sale loft homes with a roof deck and yard plus private parking on Melon Street.Screenshot (82)

Read more »

Bonus: Vine Street Overpass Renovations Pave the Way for Additional Projects!

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

That pedestrian-friendly makeover that’s slated for the Vine Street Expressway overpasses has paved the way for another renovation project in Philadelphia, thanks to a law that helps fund “road projects, bridge repairs, and public transit.”

According to PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa, Act 89 has recently racked up more funding, meaning agencies are now in a position to “speed up construction on some major rehabilitation projects,” while at the same time “netting huge savings.”

Read more »

Latest Report on the “Divine Lorraine of South Philly” Says It Will Be Demolished

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

The demolition permits pulled on New Year’s Eve for the former Mt. Sinai Hospital building in Pennsport have at last had their objective confirmed.

PlanPhilly‘s Jared Brey reports the Dickinson Square West Civic Association met with the D.C.-based Concordia Group to hear their plans for the site: demolition, followed by the construction of “an unspecified number of single-family, attached row houses,” each with a rear garage.

Further updates to come.

Townhouses proposed for Mt. Sinai Hospital site [PlanPhilly]

Morning Headlines: The Curious Case of the Germantown YWCA

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

The fate of the historic Germantown YWCA building hangs in the balance due to a standoff between District Councilwoman Cindy Bass, developer Ken Weinstein and concerned neighbors who want to secure its future. What’s the main sticking point? Weinstein wants to turn the site into affordable housing for seniors and, according to Claudia Vargas of The Inquirer, that’s not how Councilwoman Bass envisions its future:

What Bass would like is market-rate development, whether that is apartments, retail, or a reincarnation of a vibrant community center.

It’s been a roller coaster ride for the building at 5820 Germantown Avenue. Sold by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in 2006 to Germantown Settlement, the building has been a poster child for blight, having been neglected, vandalized and even the site of arson over the years. The PRA took over the property again in 2013 and sought RFPs for its redevelopment. The proposal from Weinstein, while not perfect, seems to be the last shot to save the building on the north end of Vernon Park. Inga Saffron notes:

Though Weinstein was the only bidder, his $15 million plan made a lot of sense. Not only did he promise to rehab the Y’s exterior, but he also has partnered with two respected local nonprofits, the Mission First Housing Group and Center in the Park. Although it would mean another affordable-housing project in Germantown, it seemed like a small price to pay for saving the Y.

Weinstein owns the lot next to the Y and has plans to make that site a market rate development. For now, the building sits and waits for someone to decide its fate. Concerned neighbors and preservationists are worried that it can’t be saved if it sits much longer.

Here’s what a redeveloped YWCA could look like if it is saved.

What’s to become of the old Germantown YWCA? [The Inquirer] Read more »

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