Former Inquirer Building To Be Rezoned

The former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St.

The former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St.

The City Planning Commission passed a vote on Tuesday to rezone three Center City properties. Bills to rezone the former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad, the Philadelphia School District Headquarters and a parking lot owned by the Community College of Philadelphia at 15th and Hamilton were recommended by the Committee, PlanPhilly reports. Read more »

Hawthorne Residents Blast Blatstein Proposal Again

West elevation

The west elevation of the revised Blatstein mixed-use project. Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

When the revised plans for Bart Blatstein’s mixed-use residential/retail development at the northeast corner of Broad and Washington were made public in a Civic Design Review submission, we predicted that the residents of Hawthorne would be no happier with one 32-story tower than they were with two.

We called that accurately: at the February 25 Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition zoning meeting, just about every near and not-so-near neighbor beat up on Blatstein for insisting on a tall apartment tower still. But that wasn’t the only thing they didn’t like about the project. In fact, just about every aspect of the proposal came in for criticism, and the criticism also revealed areas in which the residents, many of whom have lived in the neighborhood for years, share the concerns of newer urban advocates regarding this site and areas where they part company.

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Blatstein Revises Broad and Washington Proposal

West elevation

The west elevation of the revised Blatstein mixed-use project. Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

Developer Bart Blatstein’s proposal for a mixed-use residential/retail megaproject at the northeast corner of Broad and Washington, which Philadelphia Inquirer architecture Inga Saffron bemoaned as a “bloated, auto-centric” big-box behemoth in her column of last Friday, has undergone some cosmetic surgery on its way to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The latest iteration of Blatstein’s proposed development appears in the form of a Civic Design Review submission, required because of the proposed project’s size; at the time Saffron wrote her column, the designs had not been released to the public. Read more »

Bart Blatstein Seeks Variance for 32-Story Tower, Retail at Broad and Washington

Broad and Washington | Google Maps

Broad and Washington | Google Maps

We all know Bart Blatstein has big plans for the northeast corner of Broad and Washington, but when are we going to see some action at the lot that spans a full city block? The answer is that it could actually be soon. Fingers crossed, of course.

Blatstein is seeking zoning variances to construct one 32-story tower that consists of 944 apartments, 11 retail spaces, 882 parking spots, 357 bike parking spaces, and what the appeal refers to as 80 units of “visitor accommodations” (potentially a hotel or extended stay apartment scenario) on floors one through nine.

The plan has gone through a few iterations over the past two years. The original incarnation didn’t have a residential component, instead it was project similar to Blatstein’s work on Columbus Boulevard: a bunch of big box stores.

The apartment tower aspect was added soon thereafter, as the plan called to build one 800-unit tower over some retail. It then morphed into a dual-tower mega project that included over 1,600 apartments over 200,000-square-feet of retail and an amenity deck. Though certainly not finalized, this ZBA appeal looks to be closer to Blatstein’s first residential trick, with the possibility of a hotel now added as an intriguing wrinkle.

Blatstein could not be reached for comment on the new plans, so there’s no telling if that second tower could be built in the future.

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The Informant: Bart Blatstein’s Wife Files for Divorce

Bart and Jil Blatstein (original photo by Cindy Gallop)

Bart and Jil Blatstein in 2010 (original photo by Cindy Gallop)

Welcome to The Informant, our new gossip column from longtime Philly Mag reporter Victor Fiorillo. Each week, The Informant will bring you the tantalizing tidbits and sensational stories that those in the know are talking about behind the scenes. Got a tip? Email victor@phillymag.com.

[UPDATE, 2:20 p.m., January 28th]: Jil Blatstein has withdrawn her divorce filing.

While many of us are starting to think about what to get our significant other for Valentine’s Day (remember: it’s February 14th, gents), something tells us that mega-developer Bart Blatstein isn’t shopping for slinky negligees or chocolate bonbons for the missus. Court records indicate that Jil Blatstein, 59, has filed for divorce after more than 35 years of marriage to her husband, who is 61. Read more »

Is Blatstein Planning a Residential and Retail Complex at Former Foxwoods Site?

1401-99 South Columbus Boulevard | Google Maps

1401-99 South Columbus Boulevard | Google Maps

A new mixed-use complex on the Delaware River would bring apartments, townhouses, park space, and retail–including a new Wawa and an Aldi–to the mix of strip malls and big box stores on Columbus Boulevard in Pennsport. That’s according to a brochure from MSC Retail, which shows the expansive 16-acre parcel would essentially be divided into four distinct areas.

Bart Blatstein, who originally assembled the site some 20 years ago, purchased the property once again in 2014 for $13 million after plans for a Foxwoods Casino at 1401 South Columbus Boulevard failed to get off the ground.

A large retail complex would front Columbus Boulevard, which the brochure shows plans for a proposed Wawa at Tasker Street and an Aldi supermarket, located near a newly created drive aisle that looks to be an extension of Dickinson Street, the latter would get a new traffic light and extend to the river.

Blatstein couldn’t be reached for comment, but a person close to project said the plan is to be completed it in two phases: the retail portion opening in early 2017, and the residential part would follow at some point.

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Bart Blatstein Now Owns the Former Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino after it closed in 2014 (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Last Friday, Stockton University closed on a deal where the school sold the former Showboat Casino to the Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein.

Stockton originally purchased the old Showboat casino from Caesars Entertainment in 2014 with the intention of using it as a hotel and the centerpiece of their new “island campus.” (Stockton University’s main campus is in Galloway Township, on the mainland near Atlantic City.)

But competing pacts on the site — Caesars said it couldn’t be used as a casino, while the nearby Trump Taj Mahal had a pact saying it could only be used for a casino — held up the conversion. Stockton said Carl Icahn, poised to take control of the Taj as it exits bankruptcy, wanted 1,331 hotel rooms in exchange for waiving the pact. The boondoggle eventually led to the end of Stockton University president Herman Saatkamp’s tenure and an unknown future for the site. Read more »

Plans for Delaware Station Call for Event Spaces, Two Restaurants and Guest Rooms

Delaware Station | Photo: James Jennings

Delaware Station | Photo: James Jennings

The eyes of Bart Blatstein are not solely fixed upon Atlantic City these days. You may recall that he owns a few high-profile sites in Philly as well, including the historic Delaware Power Station in Fishtown.

Blatstein has partnered with Joe Volpe, of Cescaphe Event Group, to redevelop the station near Penn Treaty Park, and more information about their plans has been made known this week, according to PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey.

Volpe presented plans to the Central Delaware Advocacy Group last week (CDAG) that call for two private event spaces (for weddings, corporate events or the like), two restaurants open to the public, and guest rooms in the upper floors specifically for events held at the revamped station. Previous reports said the pair were looking to add a hotel component to the property, so these private guest rooms are a new wrinkle to the plans.

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Blatstein: The Playground in Atlantic City to be 100% Leased in 2016

A rendering of T Street via Tower Investments

A rendering of T Street via Tower Investments

It takes time to get most anything done these days. That’s especially true when you’re trying to revive a $200 million failed whale of a luxury shopping mall into an entertainment destination full of lively bars, high-end shopping, tons of food options and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Such is the case with developer Bart Blatstein at the former Pier Shops at Caesars on the boards of Atlantic City. The developer, along with Steelman Partners, is in the midst of a massive transformation project to take it from seldom-visited mall with plenty of empty storefronts to what’s now dubbed The Playground, a development that Blatstein said would help remake Atlantic City into the entertainment capital of the East Coast.

Blatstein bought the mall about a year ago, and announced his plans for The Playground in April. The first phase of the project, a multi-venue music walk and bar scene akin to Beale Street in Memphis called T Street on the building’s first floor, was ready to go for the summer season in June. The build out took about ten weeks, and Blatstein brought in Garces Events to cater the food and beverage menu and staff each venue.

In a traditional scenario, Blatstein told Property, it would take anywhere from 8 to 12 months to put together a lease for retail tenants and build out the space, and it could take up to two years to do the same for a restaurant. Blatstein labeled the turnaround for T Street “a miracle.”

“Instead of it taking two years to do, we did it in the matter of two months,” said the developer, who called the previous operations at the Pier “rudderless” when it was the mall. “When we took it over, it was 60 percent vacant. We will have 100 percent occupancy in 2016 … the turnaround is the story.”

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