The proposed apartment tower, with the proposed brick meetinghouse in front of it, and the under-construction temple in the foreground.
The Mormon Church’s planned apartment tower and small meetinghouse on Vine Street is about to go through the city’s Civic Design Review process—which means we get a bunch of new project renderings, plans, and specifications.
The project, which was announced several months ago by Mayor Nutter, will fill the block-long vacant lot on the north side of Vine Street between Franklin Town Boulevard and 16th Street, right across from the site of the still-under-construction Mormon temple. It’ll include a new access road through the middle of the site between the two buildings.
The tower will rise 32 stories and 360 feet, and will house 264 apartments, 13 town homes, and plenty of residential amenities including a large outdoor terrace, wraparound retail space, and two levels of underground parking. Portions will have green roofs. The meetinghouse, to be sited between the temple and the tower, will rise two stories and house a chapel, cultural center, “baptismal font,” educational facilities, and an outdoor courtyard.
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“How do you respond to a development where the architecture is awful, but the urbanism is terrific?” asks architecture critic Inga Saffron. The development with this figurative double-edged design sword is the Church of Latter Day Saints’ proposed meetinghouse and 32-story tower planned for 16th and Vine.
The two buildings — designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects — have two vastly dissimilar styles.
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Mayor Nutter held a press conference a few minutes ago to talk about plans for the 1600 block of Vine Street, which will have two new facets — residential and religious. Designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the complex will include a 32-story tower with 258 rental apartments and 13 three-story townhouses; a 24,000-square-foot Mormon Family History Center and community center; retail shops; and “a new tree-lined privately-owned public street [that] will connect Vine Street to Wood Street.” (Emphasis ours because, well, that’s funny.)
The tower is being developed by Property Reserve Inc., which works real estate magic for the Mormon Church. According to a statement on Stern’s website, Tom King, a PRI director, lauded Philadelphia’s “leaders and agencies” for being “most responsive and sophisticated in properly supporting this investment.”
“Sophisticated”? Did King think we were a bunch of rubes?
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Rendering of the Mormon Temple
philly.com has a glowing report today on the construction of the Mormon Temple at the northeast corner of Vine and 18th, whose building site is apparently cleaner and less burdened by the hardness of Philadelphia character than any local site has ever been. No cursing? Morning prayers? Cookie Wednesday? No bottles of urine? Wow. These people should be managing all the construction sites in town, and possibly the Convention Center.
But for our purposes, let’s look at some architecture/real estate details from the LDS Philadelphia Temple website:
- First Mormon Temple in Pennsylvania
- 1.6 acres.
- Granite exterior.
- 53,000 square feet
- Stained glass along the length of the building
- Landscaped plaza with reflecting pool and public gardens
- Underground parking
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The next time Mitt Romney visits, he may want to skip the Union League altogether and head directly for the Parkway where, after visiting the Barnes and not touching anything, he can pray at the state’s first Mormon Temple at 17th and Vine. Currently, the building’s construction site looks like this:
Photo: Gerry Senker
Though Philadelphia already has Mormon churches, this will be the first Temple in the city–and the state. The design is by Perkins + Will.