Monday, August 25, 2014

$140M Rodin Square Project to Break Ground

Developers hope to break ground on the huge Rodin Square mixed-use complex in Philadelphia’s Art Museum district by early September. The 651,000 square foot development at 22nd and Spring Garden Street will include a 60,000 square foot Whole Foods topped by a 35,000 square foot “Sky Park”, featuring a beautifully landscaped green roof with an infinity swimming pool, a grill and bar area, outdoor dining overlooking the Ben Franklin Parkway.

A nine-story residential building, called The Dalian on Fairmout, will be built above the market and include 293-unit luxury apartments with an incredible view of the city skyline.

Designed by Jim Volsky of MV+A Architects, The Dalian will also feature a second-level 12,000-square-foot glass lobby.

Rodin Square will be located at 501 N. 22nd Street - walking distance from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation and Fairmount Park.

Construction of the mixed-use complex will replace a Best Western hotel that is currently on the site.

The development will include almost 500 parking spaces, with one level of below-grade parking to serve the retail component.

The residential units will be served by an multistory above-grade parking structure, screened from the street.

"It's a great project in Philadelphia. It's going to be the next premier apartment building," said Will Simpson, an associate at Federal Capital Partners. “This is going to be a very highly-amenitized, first-class luxury apartment building."

The price tag for the project is estimated at $140 million, with construction expected to be complete by winter 2016.

Neal Rodin is the project’s developer, and INTECH Construction of Philadelphia is providing the construction management.

Friday, August 22, 2014

101 Years Old and Still on the Job at Capitol Lighting

Talk about company loyalty. Statistics show most people change jobs a many as nine or 10 times during the course of their lifetimes before retiring. Hy Goldman is not of that camp. He has been working for the same company, Capitol Lighting, for the past 73 years - since June 1, 1941 when he was 28 years old, to be exact. And even though the World War II Army veteran lives in a senior housing community, he has no plans on retiring anytime soon despite the fact he recently celebrated his 101st birthday.

The family owned Capitol Lighting recently held a birthday bash for Goldman at its Route 10 East Hanover store complete with cake and ice cream.

Goldman is an artist of sorts. For the past 12 years he has been working at the East Hanover store where he has his own workshop he calls his “studio” on the second-floor.

Goldman takes broken and discarded electrical lighting fixtures and refurbishes them, adding wiring to many, finding blades for ceiling fans or adding new glass globes to transform old lighting fixtures into something brand new to sell in the clearance section.

So, why does he do it, why is he still working when just about everybody else lucky enough reach age 101 would have retired decades earlier?

“It’s the challenge,” he said. “It keeps me mentally going and my body still moving.”

He was hired at the original Capital Lighting Store on Springfield Avenue in Newark in 1941 by Ethel Lebersfeld, who co-founded Capitol Lighting in 1924 along with her husband Max Lebersfeld, an electrical contractor and immigrant from Austria-Hungary. The family-owned business is now under the direction of a fourth generation of Lebersfelds.

Goldman was working for Capital when he was drafted into the Army in 1943, two years after being hired. He came out of the Army in 1946 and rejoined Capitol.

“In those days we did everything,” Goldman said.

“There was no technology. We swept the floors and sold merchandise and set up displays. We unloaded trucks. We knew what inventory we had in our store by memory. Today you look it up on a computer.”

Ethel Lebersfeld was the grandmother of current Capitol Lighting Co-Chairmen Max and Herman Lebersfeld.

“I can remember the 1950s coming in when I was 10 and 11 and playing with the cash registers,” said Max Lebersfeld, who was on hand at the East Hanover store for the birthday celebration. “Hy was a fixture then.”

Goldman saw the growth of the company from the one store to its current status of four New Jersey stores and two in Florida.

Meanwhile, Hy Goldman, still comes to work four day a week, and still drives his car as he does so.

“What am I going to do, sit around and grow old?” Goldman wanted to know.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Massive $660M Delaware Riverfront Apartment Complex

A massive 2.5 million square foot development project will be built on a vacant, 5.3-acre site along the Delaware River waterfront. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission approved Waterfront Renaissance Associates’ $660 million plan to build Renaissance Plaza at the corner of Callowhill Street and Columbus Boulevard. Construction of four mixed-use towers will kick off by the summer of 2015 and will be divided into four phases, with one tower completed in each development stage.  

Combined, the four glass and metal high-rises will comprise 1,411 market-rate apartments and 70,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

The complex will also include two sport centers, several bars and restaurants and an enclosed parking garage with 500 spaces.

Renaissance Plaza is being developed by Waterfront Renaissance Associates, along with its affiliate Carl Marks & Co., the New York investment firm that pieced together four tracts that make up the plot about three decades ago.

The $660 million development will consist of four buildings that range in height from 21 to 31 stories. The tallest tower will reach 240 feet into the sky, a significant change from the original proposed height of 480 feet. The project will also include a green roof, and will seek LEED Gold Status

Building the first phase would take about 16 months, with each phase of development comprising about 360 apartments. Plans also include 16 townhouses, nearly 70,000 square feet of retail space, and 653 parking spaces along with more than an acre of landscaped public plazas.

A swath of landscaped public space would run through the property, which the developer believes will draw people from the neighborhoods through the property, and down to the river.  Some roofs would offer additional green space.

Since the complex will be built on the west side of Delaware Avenue, not the river side, the developer will pay for a crossing signal to get people to the river itself, and will make improvements between the project and the Spring Garden transit stop.

Soil conditions at the site require piles to support the buildings - 700 are required. They will be drilled, not driven, because of sewer infrastructure.

The project is within the area covered by the newly adopted Central Delaware Overlay, which sets a height limit of 100 feet, but allows developers to earn height bonuses up by providing public amenities.

A developer who maxed out the public amenities – which include building a section of waterfront trail, building to LEED environmental standards, making transit improvement and providing public green space – can build up to 244 feet.

The site along the Delaware River waterfront had many bold ambitions that never came to fruition.

The site had been known for the last 15 years as the future address of the Greater Philadelphia World Trade Center.

That development would have entailed more than 3 million square feet of space consisting of a residential tower and three office buildings, parking for more than 2,000 vehicles and 118,000 square feet of retail space. That never happened.

Last fall, Waterfront Renaissance Associates, made a leap across the river and decided it would move the Greater Philadelphia World Trade Center project to Camden, New Jersey, where the developer has proposed building a 2.3-million-square-foot campus on 16 acres at the former Riverfront State Prison.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

10-Story ‘Study Hotel’ to Rise in University City

Drexel University plans to construct a 212-room Study Hotel on the northwest corner of 33rd and Chestnut streets, where the James E. Marks Intercultural Center is now located. The 10-story hotel will total 145,000 square feet and include a 105-seat restaurant and bar, 7,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The project is a short walk from 30th Street Station and is scheduled to be completed by 2016.

The hotel is being developed by Drexel University in partnership with Hospitality 3 and will be operated by its subsidiary, Study Hotels. The mantra for their hotels is "Read, Rest, Reflect."

The concept caters to college and university markets and will simply be called “The Study at University City”.  The project is being designed by Philadelphia-based DIGSAU Architecture. 

This is the second Study Hotel to be built, after a successful one in New Haven, Conn., known as The Study at Yale, which has become an integral part of the university.

Rates for the Study at Yale start at $219 per night for a Double Room and go to $359 for a King Study.

The first floor will have a 105-seat restaurant, which adds to the other restaurants that opened across Chestnut Street in the Chestnut Square student housing development surrounding Drexel’s student center. 
The hotel will have 212 rooms for university-related guests and 7,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space. The entire project will consist of 145,000 square feet of space. There will also be 37 off-site parking spaces.

Across Chestnut Street is the new Hill Field College House, being built by the University of Pennsylvania, and across 33rd Street is the new Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building. 

A few blocks away, apartments are under construction at 3601 Market Street; the Evo at Cira Center South is under construction a few blocks to the east on Chestnut Street; and the 38Chestnut residential project is underway a few blocks to the west. 

So ‘The Study at University City’ makes for a nice addition to this growing neighborhood where hotel rooms are limited.

When asked about how the hotel will specifically impact students, Drexel Vice President James Tucker replied: “First and foremost, parents and families from out of town will have the option to stay in world-class accommodations right on Drexel’s campus when they visit students during orientation, commencement, move-in and move-out, and other milestone events throughout the year.”

The project is part of the Drexel University Institutional Master Plan, and is scheduled to be completed by 2016.