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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What Does Parkway Have Planned for the Basciano Properties on Market Street?

Parkway Market Street West

Parkway purchased this three-parcel lot in June. | Photo: James Jennings

News broke recently that Richard Basciano was selling off his real estate holdings in Center City, most notably, multiple parcels along Market Street West. Though Brandywine Realty Trust arguably purchased the most controversial in a package that includes the lot where the building that collapsed and killed 6 people in June 2013, Parkway Corporation swooped in and bought three properties on the 2200 block. It’s a deal that could have some major development implications down the road. As you know, Parkway also dabbles in the development game.

The addition of the properties between 2208-2214 Market Street gives Parkway control over more than half a city block worth of prime real estate, which many believe will soon be integral in bridging the gap between Center City and University City. Given the rapid development scene taking place in Philadelphia over the past year or so, you can’t help but wonder what’s next.

Joe Zuritsky, chairman and CEO of Parkway Corporation, confirmed the purchase of the former site of the Forum adult movie theater (2208-10 Market Street) and 2214 Market Street from Basciano’s STB Investment Corp. and 2212 Market Street from Anthony Trombetta. The Inquirer reports the deal was for $2 million.

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Headlines: Plans for Hale Building Include Offices, Restaurants

The Hale Building | Google Street View

The Hale Building | Google Street View

Walk by the Hale Building on Chestnut and Juniper street and you’ll immediately recognize the building, even if you don’t know it by name. For many, especially those new to Philadelphia, it’s the decaying architectural contradiction wrapped in construction netting for safety purposes. The logical series of questions flow as follows: What is it? What was it? What the hell happened to it?

For those of you concerned about its future, news broke this weekend that plans are in motion to revive what has been called “Chestnut Street’s hideous yet heartbreaking ogre” into creative office space. As Jacob Adelman of The Inquirer reportsthose plans come from a familiar name:

Brickstone, whose restoration credits include the former John Wanamaker and Lit Bros. department stores on Market Street, plans to renovate the seven-story building at 1326 Chestnut and revamp its upper floors into offices for advertising firms or other creative users, managing partner John Connors said. The ground floor will be divided between two restaurants, he said.

Chemical magnate William Weightman commissioned Willis G. Hale to design the building in the late 1800’s. It was completed in 1887 and vehemently panned by architectural critics soon thereafter. As GroJLart of Philaphilia put it, “This [building] was the Symphony House of its time, reviled by architecture critics to the point of being showcased as an example of what not to build.”

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Property’s Photo of the Week: Market Street West Is Starting to Wake Up

Follow @brandywinerealty as we Build Philadelphia.

A photo posted by Brandywine Realty Trust (@brandywinerealty) on

If you follow us on Twitter (@PropertyPhilly – hit us up!), you know we have a bit of a thing for realtime crane and construction crew photos – and don’t even get us started on concrete pours. But can you blame us? Philly is rising right before our eyes!

As of late, though, Market Street in particular has been abuzz with activity: a newly built-out, mid-century-style La Colombe opened its doors at 6th and Market; upcoming units at a currently being “remodeled elevator building” at 304 Market popped up on Redfin; not to mention, the massive East Market project finally had its foundation poured.

Also recently, Richard Basciano was reported to have sold off his chunk of the 2100 block to Brandywine Realty Trust, the group who may very well have inspired this surge on Market in the first place – anyone remember when 1919 Market was a big ole’ patch of “Will-Someone-Please-Do-Something-With-This?”

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Headlines: Reading Terminal Market to Transform Filbert Street Entrance


Photo by Jeff Fusco

Reading Terminal Market is one of the crown jewels of Philadelphia. But if we took an informal poll about what changes might make it even better, we’d bet the top answers would be some form of the following: a free donut from Beiler’s upon entrance, extended the hours of operation into the evening and a less, um, cave-like entrance on Filbert Street near Iovine Brothers.

Philly Voice reports that the latter is set to take place (sorry, donut lovers), as Reading Terminal Market announced Thursday they are the recipient of a $160,000 grant through ArtPlace America to “transform and enliven Filbert Street.” So think a better lit, more inviting atmosphere that incorporates some yet-to-be-determined art installations. Plans also call for the tunnel entrance to become an event space for the market. Here’s the key, the new look could happen quickly, as one of the stipulations of the grant is that planning needs to be completed by end of 2016.

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Pedestrian-Friendly Upgrades Abound on East Passyunk Avenue

Alternative 1 design | Image courtesy of Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation

Alternative 1 design | Image courtesy of Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation

“This intersection is a pedestrian nightmare,” Sam Sherman says.

Fortunately, by this time next year, the harrowing experience that is crossing 12th and Passyunk on foot will be nothing but a long-forgotten bad dream. Here’s why: it’s in for some serious pedestrian-friendly upgrades, one of several the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation (PARC) has in store for the area.

According to the Passyunk Post’s Taylor Farnsworth, the East Passyunk Civic Association held a meeting last night regarding two possible plans that would make the intersection nicer and more safe for pedestrians. Farnsworth reports an estimated forty people came out to hear the proposed improvements presented by project engineers and representatives from the Streets Department, Commerce Department, and PARC.

Although both plans call for similar upgrades to the intersection’s traffic lights, greening, ADA compliance, and general streetscape, the meeting’s ending vote tipped in favor of the plan called “Alternative 1,” which includes two pedestrian islands instead of one island and one peninsula, as the second one does (you can check out “Alternative 2″ over at PP).

We reached out to PARC Executive Director Sam Sherman who provided us with some of the specifics of Alternative 1, which includes “widening the sidewalks, eliminating on-street parking, [and] creating raised pedestrian platforms where people can seek refuge.” He also told us the current street lights would be removed and re-calibrated “to get a sense of order,” while the entire area would be repaved and get new trees installed.

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