Monday, January 26, 2015

$500M East Market Redevelopment Ready to Rise

A four-acre block, bound by Market, Chestnut, 11th and 12th streets will soon be transformed into a retail-residential development. The project, called East Market, will encompass 4.3-acres and cost approximately $500 million to build. The $230 million first phase of East Market includes demolition of the existing building at 11th and Market Street, which began in October, followed by construction of a 17-story mixed-use tower totaling 650,000 square feet. 
East Market's master plan calls for no fewer than six buildings, and will incorporate high-rise apartments, boutique offices, and a hotel.

The initial structure will include 160,000 square feet of retail space on two levels, topped by a 325-unit apartment building.

Phase I will also renovate the 200,000-square-foot family court building into retail and office space and slice the block bound by Market and Ludlow streets in half for a pedestrian promenade.

"We're going to have grocers, we're going to have restaurants, entertainment, fashion," said Jeff Kanne, CEO of National Real Estate Advisors, the $2.2 billion-asset, Washington-based firm backing the project.

The project will be built with 100% union labor, including IBEW electricians. The development team was glad to note that union crews delivered the NREA-backed tower at 2116 Chestnut Street ahead of schedule.
The $500 million-plus project is aimed at upgrading Philadelphia's worn downtown retail district and spreading Center City's apartment revival east of Broad Street.

NREA counts the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other labor unions among its investors.

The partnership redeveloping Girard Square in Center City into East Market will soon begin a $20 million redevelopment of the former Family Court building at 34 S.11th Street into new Class A office space, with the organic grocer, Mom's Organic Market, leasing 16,000 square-feet of space on the ground floor.

National Real Estate Advisors, SSH Real Estate, Young Capital and Joss Realty Partners plan to totally gut the now vacant 160,000-square-foot building and install new mechanical equipment, including elevators, as well as totally redo its interior and put a new facade on the structure.

The builders will strip and replace the outside walls of the eight-story former Snellenburg department store warehouse facing 11th Street, now used by the city's Family Court.

Planned are new stores facing Market Street, lit by Times Square-style signs, that will be topped by 325 apartments - at $2,300 a month for a one-bedroom unit - with underground parking.

Retail stores are also planned for the first floor of the nearby 12-story Girard office building, with the upper floors upgraded for office, hotel, or apartments, depending on market demand.

"We're going to make Market Street cool again," said Daniel Killinger, director at NREA Development Services.

If the initial space sells well, the group plans to replace buildings in the 1100 block of Chestnut Street with new stores and apartments - bringing the residential count for the entire project to as many as 1,000 units.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Demolition to Begin for $1.2B Drexel University City Development

Drexel University plans to build housing, stores, labs, offices, parking and a public school on 2.7 million square feet on the north side of Filbert Street just west of the university, at a cost of around $1.2 billion. The 14-acre property was the former home of University City High School and Charles Drew Elementary. The development plan also includes laboratory and research space, as well as recreational space. Some 3,700 people will work on the site once it's all built out, and 4,300 workers will be hired at various stages in project construction, “producing substantial economic and fiscal benefits,” according to the university.

This week, demolition work is slated begin on buildings at the former University City High School site.

Drexel University City Development, a joint venture between Drexel and Baltimore developer Wexford Science & Technology, acquired the 14-acre site from the School District of Philadelphia in June 2014 for $25.15 million.

Wexford is also the developer of the nearby University City Science Center tower at 3737 Market Street.

The development plan totals more than 2.7 million square feet and includes a K-8 public school surrounded by residential, retail and public open space, as well as laboratory and research office space and parking. The residential housing component “will not be dormitories,” said Bob Francis, Drexel’s vice president of University Facilities.

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The project will create more than double the square footage of Philadelphia's tallest building, the Comcast tower.

President John Fry called it "an exciting and rare opportunity to convert an underutilized and vacant property into a vibrant center" for Drexel and its community.

Upon full completion, the project will cost around $1.2 billion, will have created 4,300 construction jobs, will house 3,700 employees and will produce substantial economic and fiscal benefits to both the City and the Commonwealth.

During construction, the university estimates the Philadelphia economic impact to include $1.2 billion in total expenditures; 4,300 jobs; and $11.2 million in tax revenues.

After completion, Drexel projects an annual Philadelphia impact of $711 million in total expenditures; 5,600 in total jobs; $20 million in tax revenue to the city and an additional $7 million of tax revenue to the School District of Philadelphia.

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Drexel, once a small school with a large commuter population, has rapidly expanded in the last decade and has about $2 billion worth of construction planned.

In addition to the University City High School redevelopment project, the Drexel has a large, mixed-use residential and retail complex under construction at 34th Street and Lancaster Avenue.

Lancaster Square will increase dining options and supply the beds necessary to meet the school’s housing requirement, along with retail in the northwest area of the campus.

The university also has plans to develop a 12-acre site near the 30th Street Station that would include a 6.4 million-square-foot hub of sleek new buildings for technology incubators, academic offices and retail space.

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The project might eventually include building over the 75-acre Amtrak rail yard, a bold idea that would represent a huge addition to the rapidly developing area.

When finished, these developments would combine academic research into fast-growing areas like information technology, energy and bio-sciences with the business interests that could commercialize them, while providing residential and retail space for an anticipated influx of young workers, all within walking distance of rail service to New York and Washington.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Construction on Mural Arts Lofts Project to Begin in February

The North Broad Street makeover is about to add yet another residential project to the North Philadelphia neighborhood. Developer Eric Blumenfeld plans to transform the former Thaddeus Stevens School at Broad and Spring Garden Street into 56 loft apartments called Mural Arts Lofts.

The $16.2 million project will convert the historic building at N. 13th Street into 56 loft-style apartments and reuse the existing elements found in the school.

Each unit will have the original chalkboards and built-in cabinets and the hardwood floors will also be restored in the process.

The massive building at 1301 Spring Garden Street will be restored and feature in a number of residences, the original transoms above the classroom doors.

The original gothic arch of the main entryway, along with most of the exterior's vibrant tile work will be restored, and the gymnasium will be converted into six two-story apartments.

Construction is slated to begin in mid-February.

The building is instantly recognizable due to the "Common Threads" mural on its west-facing facade. "That's not going anywhere," said the developer.

There are plans in place for a rooftop deck, with a lounge and pool area, and construction of up to three units, including a penthouse with its own roof deck, which will be built in another phase of the project.

In the meantime, residents will have access to the rooftop amenities at the Lofts at 640–which include a pool with amazing views of the city.

As for a timeline, the developer anticipates that approximately 30 units will be completed and ready for occupancy by late summer, with all units expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Architect Richard Sauder is in charge of the design, David Chou & Associates is the Engineer and Domus, Inc. will be heading up the construction efforts.

Thaddeus Stevens School of Observation is a historic Gothic Revival building located in the Poplar neighborhood of Philadelphia. The five-story, brick building was built in 1927 as an "observation school" for teacher education and training. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

$100M 'Fergie Tower' Will Soon Rise on Walnut Street

A new high-rise apartment tower is about to be built in Center City, east of Broad Street, on Walnut Street in the busy Washington Square West neighborhood. The 26-story mixed-use new tower proposed by the Goldenberg Group is moving forward and will have 300 apartments with retail space at the ground level.  $100 million-plus project will be built on a huge parking lot at 1213-19 Walnut Street, adjacent to historic Fergie’s Pub.

Previous owner U3 Ventures sold 1213-1219 Walnut Street to Goldenberg Group for $8.2 million after a lengthy process that was initially met with resistance by bar owner Fergie himself.

When U3 Ventures first proposed constructing a project on the site, it wanted to build a 30-story building that had 152 hotel rooms, 299 apartments as well as restaurant and retail space that would front Walnut Street and wrap around to Sansom Street.

A throughway was designed so that pedestrians and vehicles could pass through from Walnut to Sansom. The proposal was met with resistance from the owner of Fergie's Pub and a lawsuit ensued.

Eventually, a settlement was made, a zoning overlay was placed upon that block and the project was scaled down to have just apartments and retail.

The 150+ year old building housing Fergie's Pub would endure.

The new tower at 1213 Walnut Street is being designed by TEN Arquitectos and will rise 26 stories and 294 feet tall.

Goldenberg is constructing the high-rise apartment tower in partnership with Hines, a Houston-based development company.

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The property has been dubbed the "Fergie Tower" because of its proximity to Fergus Carey's pub, a popular bar located in the immediate area at 1214 Sansom Street.