Thursday, March 26, 2020

Unions Urge Governor to Lift Construction Ban

A growing number of contractors, unions and Pennsylvania county government officials are pleading Gov. Tom Wolf to lift his ban on construction activity because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Among those leading the campaign is Berks County Commissioner chairman Christian Leinbach.

“I saw a letter from Johnny Dougherty, IBEW out of Philadelphia, saying, ‘Hey, we need to get our members back to work.’ 

And, I agree with that very much,” said Leinbach. “The construction industry and the trades people that serve that industry are really foundational to our economy.”

Leinbach, who leads the COVID-19 task force for Berks County, also sent a letter to Wolf.

“The tone of the letter is positive,” he noted. “We don’t take any opportunity to take any shots at the governor.”

He said construction workers know how to take care of themselves on a job site amid a health crisis, and he believes they can continue to do it safely.

“They have very clear guidelines relative to operating within the COVID-19 health crisis that we’re in,” he said. “And, anyone that’s worked in the construction industry — you have a 50,000-square-foot building that’s being built, and you have 15 to 20 construction workers. They’re not all shoulder-to-shoulder in the corner working. They’re spread out over the job site.”

Leinbach is cautiously optimistic that Wolf will give a fair hearing to the growing chorus of those asking him to rescind his suspension order.

Construction is considered a “non-life-sustaining business” under Wolf’s coronavirus closures.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

47-story Luxury Tower Planned at Broad and Spruce St

In the heart of the city, new 47-story skyscraper with luxury condominiums and amenities is set to go up at the corner of Broad and Spruce Streets, overlooking the Kimmel Center. 

The tower, named Arthaus, is being developed by Carl Dranoff, who had previously planned to construct a 45-story SLS International Hotel & Residences on the site. 

The hotel plan was downsized last year, and then scrapped entirely, in favor of the new, solely residential, Arthaus building.

The $275 million tower will include 108 condominiums ranging from 1,600 to nearly 5,500 square feet, along with 151 parking spaces.

The building’s luxury amenities will include a 75-foot pool, a dining salon which will feature celebrity chefs doing demonstrations, and a sky garden with a greenhouse.

The Arthaus name is inspired by the Bauhaus—an architecture movement founded by Walter Gropius in 1919 that helped shape modern design and architecture for decades to come.

About the Arthaus design, “excess was replaced by beauty that will also meet the needs and desires of real people.” 

They point to the tiered facade of the primarily glass building, which is aesthetically pleasing and which, “gives every unit its own corner, with two full exterior walls of breathtaking views.”

Carl Dranoff said it was the goal of his team and architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to bring a vertical tower that would be a sort of landmark for the Avenue of the Arts. 

The upper levels look like steps going to the sky, while the lower levels feature brick and clay tiles that relate to the Kimmel Center across the Street.

The condominium units, which start at two bedrooms, feature floor-to-ceiling glass, terraces, kitchens with marble backsplashes and a marble waterfall countertop. 
The largest unit stretches over two stories with four bedrooms, five baths, a private elevator, and a massive terrace. 

The bottom floors will have four units a piece, with that number decreasing as you move up the building. 

The units will cost around $1,200 to $1,500 per square foot, with the largest unit costing as much as $8.2 million and the smallest as low as $1.9 million. 

When factoring in the location, the luxury nature of the units, and the amenities, it’s a bargain compared to similar New York condos, the developer says.

The tower is a far cry from the earlier plans for the site, which has been empty for years but once held Philadelphia International Records. 

It wasn’t until late last year that Dranoff announced he was scrapping the hotel portion of the project entirely, after only receiving $1.4 million of the $19 million he needed from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to complete the hotel portion. 

This time the money they did secure from RACP grants, amounting to about $2.4 million, will go toward a restaurant on the first floor of the building.



The Arthaus tower is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2021.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

New 30-Story Tower to Rise on North Broad St

The latest project in the wave of new development along North Broad Street is 30-story mixed-use tower named “Mural West,” a 30-story apartment building slated to rise on a parking lot at 523 North Broad Street.

The tower will have 290 residential units on the upper floors with ground-floor retail space. 

Also included on the lot is a separate, one-story restaurant and 24 on-site parking spaces.

Mural West sits just next to Meg Saligman’s popular 1999 mural “Common Threads,” which provides inspiration for the new development. 

A diagonal open space called “common ground” runs between the tower and the restaurant, directly below the mural.

The development plan preserves the mural, while the park enhances the viewer experience by providing a quiet respite from the urban neighborhood with trees, seating, and information about the mural and its creation.

The building is designed by AOS Architects and will be developed by EBRM, the group behind the Divine Lorraine Hotel.

The project is the latest in a recent boom of development along North Broad Street. 

In 2017 the Divine Lorraine Hotel was restored, followed by the Met Philly in 2018. The Nest,  new development geared toward Temple University students opened last year, while another new, 14-story project behind the Divine Lorraine recently broke ground. 



Thursday, March 5, 2020

Giant 30-acre Development Planned for Philly Waterfront

A vacant 30-acre site on the Delaware River will soon be getting nearly 1,100 new homes, including apartments and row houses.

The development spans a plot of land between the waterfront and Beach Street in Old Richmond, just below Graffiti Pier. 

The project is designed by ISA Architects and Hickok Cole.

The overall development which is billed as a “hybrid community,” will include four seven-story apartment buildings on the eastern side of the site with 850 units, ranging from one to two-bedrooms. 

The apartment buildings will also include 744 parking spots, a community center with an outdoor plaza, and a community pavilion.

A road separates the apartment buildings from the complex of 248 row houses on the riverfront side of the land, ranging from three to five bedrooms with roof decks and parking for two cars.

As part of the Delaware River Waterfront Cooperation’s master plan, the project includes green space between the buildings, a pedestrian connection to trails on the water’s edge, and an access point to a public park.


The overall design echoes the row homes built in adjacent Fishtown and Old Richmond.

It’s the largest project to tap the northern banks of the Delaware River for residential development.

Further south, multiple projects like the Views at Penn Treaty, a luxury development with 19 townhouses, and Pier 35 1/2, a 41-townhouse development will soon be moving forward as well. 

Friday, February 7, 2020

47-story Condo Tower Planned for Broad and Spruce

A new, 47-story skyscraper with luxury condos and amenities is set to go up at the corner of Broad and Spruce Streets, overlooking the Kimmel Center and the heart of the city.

Plans for the tower, dubbed Arthaus, were announced by developer Carl Dranoff, who had previously tapped the site for a 45-story SLS International Hotel & Residences. That hotel plan was first downsized last year, and then scrapped entirely, in favor of the new, solely residential, Arthaus building.

The $253 million tower includes 108 condos that range from 1,600 to nearly 5,500 square feet, along with 151 parking spaces, and amenities. A 75-foot pool, a “dining salon” that will occasionally feature celebrity chefs doing demonstrations and a sky garden with a greenhouse are listed among the amenities for the building.

The Arthaus name is inspired by the Bauhaus—a school of architecture founded in 1919 that helped shape modern architecture and design for decades to come.

Of the Bauhaus movement and the Arthaus design, Dranoff says, “excess was replaced by beauty that could also meet the needs and desires of real people.” They point to the tiered facade of the primarily glass building, which they call aesthetically pleasing and which, “gives every unit its own corner, with two full exterior walls of breathtaking views.”

Dranoff said it was the goal of his team and architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to bring a vertical tower that would be a sort of landmark for the Avenue of the Arts. 

The upper levels look like steps going to the sky, while the lower levels feature brick and clay tiles that relate to the Kimmel Center across the Street.

The condos themselves, which start at two bedrooms, feature floor-to-ceiling glass, terraces, kitchens with marble backsplashes and a marble waterfall countertop. The largest condo stretches over two stories with four bedrooms, five baths, a private elevator, and a massive terrace.

The bottom floors will have four units a piece, with that number decreasing as you move up the building. The units will cost around $1,200 to $1,500 per square foot - with the largest unit costing more than $8 million and the smallest as low as $1.9 million. 



When factoring in the location, the luxury nature of the units, and the amenities, it’s a bargain compared to similar New York condos. The Arthaus tower is anticipated to be completed by 2022.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

University City Prepares for Massive $6.5B Redevelopment

University City is in for some major changes thanks to a new redevelopment plan from Amtrak and partners SEPTA, Brandywine Realty Trust, and Drexel University. The plan will be the single largest development project in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and turn West Philadelphia into a regional economic hub. 

The development is expected to cost $6.5 billion, with $2 billion going to infrastructure investments and the other $4.5 billion coming from developers.

The project is expected to create 22,000 construction jobs and another 10,000 permanent jobs, and add 8,000 to 10,000 residents to the city’s population.

The massive venture will focus on the area around 30th Street Station, the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system, ultimately turning the area into a second downtown for Philadelphia.

Plans for the station and surrounding neighborhood will start with the capping of the existing Amtrak and SEPTA-owned rail yards to accommodate 10 million square feet of development along the Schuylkill River.

Click to enlarge
New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created, with most of the development privately financed.

The project will include housing for 10,000 residents and create 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.

Three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City, are also planned.

The redevelopment site consists of a total of 175 acres in the University City neighborhood, 88 of which is occupied by the Amtrak rail yard.

This project is the culmination of a two-year study of the site, which extends east of Drexel’s campus between Walnut and Spring Garden Streets and northeast from 30th Street Station.

Among the infrastructure improvements are plans to relocate a ramp for the Schuylkill Expressway in favor of a new bus terminal.

Click to enlarge
In addition to the bus facility, Amtrak also plans to expand The Porch at 30th Street Station.

A new gateway park will surround the facility with a tree-lined promenade along the river, a west-side plaza that could be used for large-scale events and a north plaza along Arch Street.

The 30th Street Station itself will also receive a major renovation that will add retail space and a new pedestrian plaza around the train station.

A new underground concourse that will connect the SEPTA subway station at 30th Street to the Amtrak station, is also planned.


 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Massive Development Planned for South Broad Street

A local developer has big plans for the northeast corner of Broad Street and Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia. Bart Blatstein is seeking approval from the city’s Planning Commission to build a major mixed-use development on a vacant 4-acre block that could bring nearly 1,000 apartments and an 80-room hotel to the city.

Known as 1001 South Broad Street, the 4.4-acre mega-project will comprise 1.8 million square feet of retail and residential.

Plans call for the construction of a 34-story, 944-unit luxury apartment tower (with 80 hotel rooms on floors two through nine), 11 ground-floor retail stores, 882 parking spots and 357 bike parking spaces, at the corner of South Broad Street and Washington Avenue.

The 371-foot-high building will need zoning variances for roof decks for non-residential use and a parking garage.

The L-shaped development will also comprise a smaller residential building with approximately 60 units and additional commercial/retail and dining establishments on its fourth-level rooftop, dubbed the ‘Village.’

The Village is set to include outdoor gathering spaces and more intimate exterior pathways lined with small retail boutiques and both formal and casual dining establishments, reminiscent of a French village in Provence.

Overlooking the pedestrian streets, this surface will also feature two stories of quaint but luxurious walk-up apartments totaling approximately 100-120 units.

Additionally, the development will bring office space for modestly-sized businesses and co-working users, as well as three levels of a structured self-park garage with about 625 spaces for the use of residents, shoppers and visitors alike.

The site of the project, viewed as a gateway intersection between South Philadelphia and Center City, is bounded by South Broad Street to the west, Washington Avenue to the south, N. 13th Street on the east and Carpenter Street to the north.

Vehicle access to both the parking facility and the numerous internal off-street loading dock facilities is proposed to be through curb-cuts and entrance portals, two of which are along Carpenter Street and one along Washington Avenue. No curb cuts are proposed along S. Broad or S. 13th Streets.

Blatstein’s proposal, which could bring approximately 1.8 million square feet of residential and commercial space, will be reviewed by the Civic Design and Planning Commission on March 1.

Zoning variances will be needed for the project’s roof decks for non-residential use and parking garage. The site is already zoned CMX-5, the most permissive commercial zoning classification in the city. The CMX-5 zoning requires a special exception to include parking spaces above ground.

Washington Avenue is brimming with potential, and its future has become a hot-button topic in real estate circles. Developers have snapped up its many vacant lots and aging industrial buildings, and the city has been seeking to re-zone the former industrial thoroughfare in order to spur its development.

Trendy businesses have open alongside long-standing construction supply warehouses, seafood mongers and auto-repair shops.

The developer’s past projects in the city include the development of Piazza in Northern Liberties, which is modeled after Rome’s Piazza Navona, as well as shopping centers on Columbus Boulevard in South Philly.

A few years ago, Blatstein unsuccessfully attempted to convert the old Inquirer building on North Broad Street into a hotel and casino.

In a partnership with Cescaphe Event Group, the developer is also planning to convert the former PECO power station next to Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown into a wedding venue and event space.

Mr. Blatstein is currently building a mansion for himself on Rittenhouse Square.