Morning Headlines: Proposed Hotel Near Convention Center Clears Hurdle

The existing building, courtesy of this sale flyer

PlanPhilly reports that a proposal to construct a 12-story addition atop the former Warner Bros. distribution center on 13th Street just north of the Pennsylvania Convention Center received approval from the Philadelphia Historical Commission on July 11, and has video of the meeting. An earlier version of the proposal was rejected in June by the commission’s Architecture Committee.

The two-story Art Moderne building, designed by Frank Furness protege William H. Lee, was recently listed as being for sale for $2.75 million. It is currently owned by Big Brothers Big Sisters.

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Toll Brothers Pushing 410 At Society Hill

A rendering of 410 at Society Hill, courtesy of Toll Brothers

Toll Brothers, the Horsham, PA-based megadeveloper, has found late-career success in the unlikeliest of places: bustling cities. The company has done projects throughout New York City, as well as the remarkably successful 600-unit Naval Square in Graduate Hospital. Now Toll Bros. is pushing its latest Philadelphia offering: the still-under-construction 410 at Society Hill, the luxury condo complex on Headhouse Square that replaces the large hole where Newmarket once stood.

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There Is A Musical About Urban Planning. No, Really.

A promotional image for the show

A promotional image for the show

According to a recent New Yorker story, a while back someone called the office of then-New York City director of city planning Amanda Burden with a request to talk to her—-about an upcoming musical about urban planning. Understandably, Burden didn’t believe it. “I said, ‘That has to be a prank call,’” she told the New Yorker. But then this spring, she saw the new musical If/Then and—-surprise—-encountered a version of herself onstage: “‘Oh, my God,’ she recalled thinking. ‘I think that’s me!’”

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Morning Headlines: New Details on Comcast Skyscraper

Rendering of CITC. Photo courtesy of Comcast Corporate.

Rendering of CITC.
Image via Comcast Corporate.

After getting the regulatory process over three months ago, construction will soon begin on the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, a joint project between Comcast and developer Liberty Property Trust.

The future 18th and Arch tower will include a Four Seasons Hotel with 222 rooms, as well as office space for the broadcasting/cable bigwig, which, according to PBJ’s Natalie Kostelni, made some changes to its lease:

Comcast has expanded the amount of space that it will occupy. The cable giant signed a 20-years lease on 982,275 square feet, or about 74 percent of the 1.33-million-square-foot building. It had initially taken 957,000 square feet.

The 59-story structure, to-be the city’s tallest tower (and the tallest building outside of New York and Chicago), has a $933 million price tag, of which $40 million comes from public city and state funds. The latter amount “will go toward infrastructure improvements, such as extending the subway concourse.”

Comcast skyscraper construction begins; new details emerge [Business Journal]

In other news…

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Midday Headlines: Saffron Says One Water Street Design Isn’t Good Enough

Rendering of One Water Street via PlanPhilly

Rendering of One Water Street via PlanPhilly

Better…but not good enough. That’s how Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron feels about the new design for One Water Street, a residential project planned for the north side of the Ben Franklin Bridge by PMC Property Group. So while the developer is aiming for a July groundbreaking — something the Civic Design Review board will determine at a hearing this Tuesday — Saffron has her fingers crossed for it not to happen. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Facade is better than earlier renderings, but still not good enough:

    “Clad in a random pattern of blue and gray aluminum panels, it may be the most dispiriting apartment facade since you-know-which pink tower on Broad Street. The patterning makes no sense, nor does the big flat blank expanse on the all-important Arch Street corner. There is almost zero modulation to give the surface texture and shadow. If it weren’t for the windows, you might mistake it for those mountains of shipping containers you see near ports.”

    That “pink tower on Broad Street” she’s referring to is the Symphony House, which she called “the ugliest new condo building in Philadelphia” back in 2007. Yikes.

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What’s With Those Gap-Toothed Developments in Francisville?

Gap-toothed townhomes on North 16th Street in Francisville

Francisville residents have gotten used to hearing the sound of hammers and saws around them — the neighborhood has become something of a builder’s paradise, thanks in no small part to the neighborhood’s community development corporation. Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation head Penelope Giles, in contrast to some of her peers in other low-income neighborhoods and with the support of many of her neighbors, has chosen to get out in front of gentrification rather than fight it. Letting the community guide the process, she argues, will benefit everyone.

It seems that some property owners in the neighborhood, however, don’t share her enthusiasm.

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PMC Plans Two New Logan Square Projects

A rendering of the proposed expansion of 1900 Arch Street. The expansion is the slim mass at the back, running parallel to 20th Street.

A rendering of the proposed expansion of 1900 Arch Street. The expansion is the slim mass at the back, running parallel to 20th Street.

Philadelphia’s PMC Property Group has been on the move lately. Construction is proceeding quickly on 1900 Arch, an apartment building adjacent to the proposed Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, and the company hopes to break ground later this summer on One Water Street, an apartment building just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Now the company is proposing two more new Logan Square projects: an 11-story expansion of 1900 Arch, and a 26-story tower at the corner of 23rd and Cherry streets.

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Sweet Public Spaces and Development on the Waterfront

The water garden at Spruce Street Harbor Park, via the DRWC

The water garden at Spruce Street Harbor Park, via the DRWC

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), which is giving a shot of adrenaline to Philadelphia’s underused waterfront, is planning several new public spaces to draw people to the water and spur investment. You may have already heard about Spruce Street Harbor Park, a pop-up opening Friday, that’ll have floating barges and gardens, fountains, a boardwalk, a “mist garden,” lots of neat lighting, and a floating restaurant by Jose Garces. A large team of the region’s top designers and architects worked together on the project, including Groundswell Design Group, Interface Studios, and Digsau, as well as The Heads of State (for branding).

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Midday Headlines: Montco Considers Spending Millions on Norristown HQ

Montgomery Plaza office buildings, courtesy of Google Street View

Montgomery Plaza office buildings, courtesy of Google Street View

The Inquirer’s Jessica Parks reports that Montgomery County, after selling off much of its property over the last year, is reconsidering what to do with its headquarters and central offices in Norristown. The county is hiring a consultant to study the options, “including rehabilitating One Montgomery Plaza, building atop the county courthouse plaza, replacing an underground parking garage, renovating or tearing down the old stone prison, or even expanding the county footprint by buying the Post Office building behind the courthouse.” The 10-story One Montgomery Plaza alone needs at least $17 million in repairs.

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Renderings: Eight Townhomes Planned for Old City

Revolution Development Group says it plans to construct eight new townhomes, to be called Bread Street Estates, on the site of a parking lot at the corner of Race and Bread streets in Old City. The project’s leasing agent told Curbed Philly that the developer will break ground in August with the hope of finishing construction in 10 months, though that may only be the first four homes since the developer’s website says that this will be a two-phase project. According to city records, L&I granted a construction permit for the project in April.

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