McIlhenney Mansion’s Dome to Be Demolished

Photo by Brad Maule via Hidden City.

Photo by Brad Maule via Hidden City Daily.

An item in today’s Center City Residents Association email newsletter says demolition will start soon on the double-parcel McIlhenny Mansion at the southwest corner of Rittenhouse Square, now owned by developer Bart Blatstein. And there will be some changes:

When the dust has settled, the one story curved brick façade and dome at 1916 erected in 1957 will be gone. The planned replacement is a four story 47 foot high addition. The addition’s roofline will match that of the mansion’s other property, 1914 Rittenhouse Square, erected in 1859 with three stories capped by a one story mansard roof with dormer windows. The façade of 1914 is to remain unchanged. The mansion’s back entrance on Manning Street currently consists of a single story structure, a garage with a double width door adjacent to a servant’s entrance. The plans call for a two story structure on the western end with bedrooms atop two oversize garage entrances. On the eastern side, the addition will rise a third story above Manning Street.

Below, the plans included in CCRA’s email.

Plans via Center City Residents Association

Plans via Center City Residents Association

Blatstein: I Will Build a Tower of Piazza on South Broad

It's all going to happen here, at Broad and Washington. Image via Google Street View.

It’s all going to happen here, at Broad and Washington. Image via Google Street View.

Developer Bart Blatstein, best known for the Piazza in Northern Liberties, has begun to talk about what he might do at Broad and Washington. The Business Journal’s Natalie Kostelni, who broke the story, characterizes his concept as taking “what he did at the Piazza in Northern Liberties and roll[ing] it up into a condensed, vertical version.”

He characterizes it as a little bit “Hotel California,” a little bit modern-day commune. From the Business Journal:

“I want to take everything I’ve done in Northern Liberties that is spread over several blocks and put it in one place. It’s a self-contained community where you will never want to leave. Every amenity known to mankind is here.”

That’s right. EVERY AMENITY KNOWN TO MANKIND.

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Darrell Clarke Will Introduce Plans for Avenue of the Arts North Today

There’s an event today about which there’s scant information, but according to a Media Alert we received, City Council prez Darrell Clarke will “unveil plans for Avenue of the Arts North” today at a noontime press conference. He’ll be joined by developer Bart Blatstein; Ken Scott, President of Beech Interplex; and labor leaders.

The event is described this way in the alert:

A press conference to announce exciting new plans for Avenue of the Arts North, an economic development effort to extend the success of Center City’s Avenue of the Arts north of City Hall along wide swaths of undeveloped parcels along North Broad Street. Council President Clarke also will discuss the catalytic effect developer Bart Blatstein’s proposed Provence Resort & Casino Central would have on additional development on the Avenue of the Arts North project, which is on the former site of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. Council President Clarke also will be touting economic incentives for developers interested in the Avenue of the Arts North project, including a 10-year property tax abatement for new commercial construction, low-interest loans, tax breaks and more.

Clarke has been a fan of Blatstein’s Provence from the start, endorsing the project at its launch party. The Beech Interplex consortium is composed of dozens of groups with a stake in the Cecil B. Moore community. Beech’s real estate developments includes buildings on and around Temple’s campus as well as the Blue Horizon, and more.

Interested in what Clarke has going on? Find out at Broad and Spring Garden outside of Tower Place at noon.

Citizens Bank Park: A Decade in the Stadium We Didn’t Want

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Out at home? CBP attendance dropped last season. Photograph: Aero-Imaging, Inc./Newscom

The first 10 years of Citizens Bank Park, I think we can all agree, have been pretty great. Five division titles. Eight winning seasons. One magical night in October 2008. Many fans will claim 11th and Pattison as hallowed ground long after global warming turns it into a beach.

But do you remember when the decision to build in South Philly seemed like not just a defeat — but a complete failure of civic imagination? In the early days of the debate on replacing Veterans Stadium, folks were hot for a Camden Yards-style retro park smack-dab in the middle of downtown. Fans whimsically debated putting a new park at the old Schmidt’s brewery, near 30th Street Station, even on the waterfront. Politicians talked more realistically about two locations: North Broad at Spring Garden, and in Chinatown at 12th and Vine.

But each proposed site was eventually sunk by some combination of community or political NIMBYism and logistical or infrastructural clusterfuckery. So the new stadium arose in the shadow of the old one, in the expanse of parking lots and nothingness we call, as if it were an affliction, the “sports complex.”

When the Phils were the best team in town, it didn’t much matter where their stadium was. But last year, attendance dropped by half a million fans. And we may face another dismal August in South Philly. It’s worth asking: Did we blow it?

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So What’s All This About a Wegmans Coming to Center City?

wegmans.heart

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.”

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Morning Headlines: Bart Blatstein to Buy 16-Acre Foxwoods Site in South Philly

Site of the former Foxwoods Casino plan via Google Street View.

Site of the former Foxwoods Casino plan via Google Street View.

Things seem to have come full-circle for the old Foxwoods property in South Philadelphia. Bart Blatstein, one of the current five contenders for the city’s second gaming license, is said to be purchasing the failed casino site for $13 million. Blatstein had once planned a shopping center for the 16-acre plot back in 1993 when he owned it.

According to the Inquirer’s Jennifer Lin, people like deputy mayor for economic development Alan Greenberger are excited for what this might mean for the area:

As part of the deal, Blatstein will convey to the Natural Lands Trust, a local land conservation organization, a 100-foot-wide strip of land along the river’s edge from Tasker Street to Reed. That will allow the city to continue a waterfront trail across the former Foxwoods site on South Columbus Boulevard, between Tasker and Reed Streets.

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Blatstein/Magid Team Up for Live Entertainment at Provence Resort and Casino

provence blatstein

Big news: Philly developer Bart Blatstein and concert promoter Larry Magid are set to make an announcement tomorrow about live entertainment programming at Provence Resort and Casino, Blatstein’s $700-million proposed project on the site of the former Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News building.

Details are sparse, but more will be announced tomorrow at 11 a.m. Stay tuned to Ticket for more.

Morning Headlines: Casino Smackdown Begins. Who Will Win?

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Casino Revolution renderings: exterior and (inset) bar area. Renderings by Hnedek Bobo Group.

Today is the start of three days of hearings during which the final five bidders for Philadelphia’s casino license will make their case before the PA Gaming Control Board. Established venues such as SugarHouse will also be granted the opportunity to present their rebuttal against the new projects to avoid losing business.

Among the prospective projects, three are proposed for South Philly (Live! Hotel & Casino, Casino Revolutions, and Hollywood Casino), one in Callowhill (the Provence), and one in Center City (Market8). The schedule of the hearings is as follows:

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Is Philadelphia’s Next Casino Just a Spoonful of Slots to Make the Restaurants Go Down?

A rendering of Bart Blatstein's Provence casino.

A rendering of Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino.

One of the things that struck us about Bart Blatstein’s Provence casino proposal from the day it was announced was the function the casino would perform. Of course, it’s the largest single element of the project, but both from its placement (above the street-level restaurants and shops) and the facilities attached to it (a concert venue and rooftop shopping village), it almost seemed the casino was an appendage needed to make all the other goodies possible.

Since that grand announcement party almost a year ago, the other projects vying for the city’s second casino license have largely evolved in the Provence’s direction. Market8, the closest in concept at the start, enlarged its hotel and added more street-level variety. Casino Revolution tacked on a theme park of sorts. And so on.

Blatstein’s introduction of two star chefs for the Provence more or less confirmed our view of the project. It’s not that casinos lose money; if they did that, there wouldn’t be five bidders competing for one casino license. Rather, it’s that the casino is no longer the biggest moneymaker in such projects.

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Blatstein Introduces Two Celebrity Chefs for Casino Complex

Photo of the chefs with Blatstein (center) by Sandy Smith

Photo of the chefs with Blatstein (center) by Sandy Smith


Two star New York chefs whose restaurants sparked neighborhood revivals, Tom Colicchio and Andrew Carmellini, will establish operations in Philadelphia as part of developer Bart Blatstein’s proposed Provence casino-entertainment complex.

Blatstein introduced the pair at a short press conference in a tent atop the parking garage at 15th and Callowhill streets that will fall to make way for the casino and its accompanying shops and restaurants should the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board award the second and last casino license in Philadelphia to his project.

Both Colicchio and Carmellini have track records of opening outstanding restaurants that serve acclaimed cuisine.

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