The vacant lot at Broad and Washington that Blatstein wants to develop. Photo via Google Street View.
With casino fever taking over yesterday, it was easy to overlook another project Bart Blatstein, one of the applicants who lost out on Philadelphia’s second gaming license, has in mind for the city.
If you will recall, rumors of a Wegmans coming to South Philadelphia sprung up earlier this year after he expressed interest in developing a vacant lot at the corner of Broad and Washington. Those rumors were squashed pretty quickly and, a few months later, Blatstein presented a clearer picture of what he wanted to do: a verticle Piazza-like community with “every amenity known to mankind.”
Yesterday, that idea was scratched.
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Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly
Tomorrow the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board holds a special meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at which it publicly votes on who gets Philadelphia’s second casino license. There are four bidders — two in Center City (The Provence at 400 North Broad Street and Market8 at 8th and Market) and two in South Philly (Casino Revolution at 3333 South Front Street and Live! Hotel and Casino at 900 Packer Ave.) — waiting for word.
Because the whole thing has taken so damn long, we asked Doug Harbach, PGCB spokesperson, what would happen if the vote is deadlocked tomorrow. You know, just in case. Ain’t gonna happen.
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that developer Bart Blatstein, one of four remaining bidders to build a second casino in Philly, is fretting about the time it’s taking to get that casino approved. He proposed to create a casino in he space of he old Inquirer building a 400 N. Broad.
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Did you get all of that headline? It’s simple: Bart Blatstein is purchasing The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City for under $3 million, according to several news sources. The shops, which opened in 2004 at the site of the former Million Dollar Pier, cost $200 million to build. The plan was to anchor the mall with luxury shops to attract high-rollers.
But since opening, the mall has struggled: The company that developed it, Taubman Centers, pulled out in 2009 and stopped subsidizing it. Stores have been closing ever since. The Philadelphia Business Journal, which first reported the sale, says the mall’s retail space is only 52 percent occupied. Some of that space is an indoor miniature golf course — not exactly the high-end retail originally envisioned.
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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
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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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.
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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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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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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