Embassy Suites to Become Apartments (Again)
The Terrace on 18th takes the cylindrical Parkway icon back to its 1963 roots, but in 2021 fashion.
Pearl Properties, which has operated the Embassy Suites by Hilton hotel at 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway since purchasing the building a little more than two years ago, is pulling the plug on the hotel and converting the building to apartments.
The apartment building, to be called The Terrace on 18th, is already leasing units and expects to welcome its first tenants in June.
The conversion will return the cylindrical Parkway icon to its original use: it opened in 1963 as the Plaza Apartments and was converted to a hotel in the early 1980s.
Pearl Properties Principal Reed Slogoff explains that the conversion was triggered by the COVID pandemic, which caused business travel to fall sharply.
“The hotel was doing very well,” he says. “It’s just that the all-suites hotel was focused on business travel, and we’re not sure when it will be fully back. So when we bought the property, we had an idea that this would be a great conversion if we ever wanted to do that. It just seemed like a good idea.”
In returning the hotel to its first use, however, Pearl Properties is upgrading it significantly. The building’s second floor has become a 12,500-square-foot amenity floor, with co-working space, a residents’ lounge, commercial kitchen and party room, TV and club room, game room, screening room, fitness center and outdoor terrace overlooking Logan Circle.
Another unique feature of the building: Thanks to its original design, all 288 of its units will be one-bedroom apartments, and every apartment will have a private balcony.
One amenity the new apartment building will not have is a swimming pool. The original Plaza Apartments swimming pool got covered over when TGI Friday’s moved into the restaurant space on the building’s east end. In the most significant of the alterations being made to the building, the pool has been demolished; its removal allows for the former Friday’s space to be remodeled into a bi-level brewpub for Victory Brewing Company, which will brew beer on the premises and offer outdoor seating on its roof.
And on the Parkway itself. The reconstruction also removes the blank wall, replaces it with glass, and brings the lower level down to that of the street, thus opening up the opportunity for sidewalk dining.
“For over 30 years, that space wasn’t touched” — Slogoff described the old Friday’s space as a mishmash of rooms with varying ceiling heights thanks to the pool’s intrusion into it — “and now we’re bringing it into 2021. It’s a really tremendous space, and it’s going to activate that block.”
Even though the hotel suites were basically ready to welcome tenants, they too had to be reconfigured. “We have to add kitchens, because there were no kitchens,” says Slogoff. “We have to add laundries, because there was no laundry.” Instead of in-unit washers and dryers, tenants will be able to use shared laundry facilities on each floor, included in the rent.
Pearl is also making sure that tenant move-ins will be COVID-safe. Toilet seats are being replaced before each move-in, and the tenant relations staff inspects each unit and leaves a welcome gift and letter with important information inside the apartment. Then, in a final touch, the cleaning staff completely sanitizes the apartment and places a seal on the door. Tenants break the seal whey they move in.
The building’s underground parking garage also had to be reconfigured, both to allow the restaurant floor to be lowered and to add bike parking. A second restaurant will occupy retail space at the corner of 18th and Cherry streets. Pearl is currently in negotiations with a potential operator.
Given its location just up the block from its headquarters campus, Pearl expects the Terrace on 18th to hold special appeal for Comcast employees, but the building is also within easy walking distance of City Hall, the Market Street West office district and the Rittenhouse Square area.
Work on converting the building began last July. Pearl had already signed a lease with Victory Brewing before opting to convert the hotel. About one-quarter of the apartments will be ready for move-in in June; an additional 25 percent of the units will be ready in July, August and September.
The Terrace on 18th by the Numbers
Address: 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103
Number of units: 288 one-bedroom apartments with private balconies, ranging in size from 690 to 715 square feet.
Number of parking spaces: About 150, plus more than 100 bike parking spaces, in an underground garage with valet parking
Pet policy: Pets welcome; contact leasing office for details
Rents: Starting at $1,895 per month, with only slight variances based on size or location
Updated Jan. 25th, 7:54 a.m., to correct the building’s construction date.