Thursday, October 29, 2015

$280M W Hotel Ready to Rise on Chestnut Street

Chestlen Development has begun preliminary work for a 52-story tower that will soon begin to rise at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City. The 780,000 square foot project will construct 755 hotel rooms, of which 295 rooms will be managed under the W Hotel brand and 460 rooms dedicated to the Element by Westin. The development is projected to create 1,800 construction jobs and 450 permanent jobs and is expected be completed by January 2017.
The W Hotel and Residences will rise 582 feet and have 41,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, an 8,600-square-foot restaurant, and a 185-space, below-grade parking garage.

The project will also include more than 1,700 square feet of retail space on the ground floor at the corner of 15th and Chestnut.

Tutor Perini is beginning excavation work for the building’s foundation.

The project, which sits across from City Hall and next to the Ritz Carlton, is estimated to cost $280.4 million.

Chestlen Development will put up $205.4 million, and receive $75 million in tax-payer subsidies over 20 years.

It is not unusual for the city to arrange tax incremental financing for construction projects, especially if the work will give an otherwise blighted area an economic boost.

However, tax incremental financing can be controversial when it is put into areas where development would likely have happened without it.

Once the project is completed, it is expected to generate $220.6 million in incremental tax revenues over 20 years and will represent an estimated $25.8 million net gain to the city and $12.3 million to the school district over those two decades.

The W Hotel and Residences is expected to be completed by October 2017.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

$660M Renaissance Plaza Project on Delaware River

A massive 2.5 million square foot development project is being planned for 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 is expected to kick off in early 2016 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, October 15, 2015

Gigantic Mixed-Use Complex Coming to Fairmount Avenue

A company named Broad Street Holdings is planning to construct a supermarket, two parking levels, two residential towers, and 27 residential row homes at 1300 Fairmount Avenue, a large development site directly behind the Divine Lorraine Hotel in North Philadelphia. New York developer RAL Companies & Affiliates is designing the 860,000 square foot project which will be located just a block away from the Broad Street Line’s Fairmount station.

Plans for the massive development call for construction of a large supermarket, with an attendant parking garage that will front on Ridge Avenue, while a belt of row houses will line the block bounded by 13th Street, Melon, Park, and Wallace Streets.

Finally, at the corner of 13th Street and Fairmount Avenue, two midsize residential structures would be erected: a 15-story mid-rise residential building facing Fairmount Avenue, and an 18-story apartment tower, about the same height as the Divine Lorraine.

A short part of Melon Street–between Ridge and Park Avenues–would also be erased in favor of the supermarket. The market will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood as two large new apartment buildings are just two blocks away.

It is difficult to attempt large-scale projects on North Broad Street. The street calls for higher densities than what is being built in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Blumenfeld Development, which owns the Divine Lorraine and Metropolitan Opera House, developed 600 North Broad and Lofts 640, and is currently working on Mural Lofts in the former Thaddeus Stevens Public School, has been going at a relatively slow pace in large part for this reason.

Broad Street Holdings, based at 275 Seventh Avenue in New York City, bought the property from the City just prior to the beginning of 2014 for one dollar, a fraction of a percent of the parcel’s $6.3 million assessed value.

The developer is now seeking $15 million in state funding for this project.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Plans for University of Pennsylvania South Bank Campus

The University of Pennsylvania plans to construct another 58,000-square-feet of cutting-edge architecture with its new Pennovation Center. The new structure is set to anchor Pennovation Works, a 23-acre industrial site along the Schuylkill River that the university is turning into a research and innovation park, and will add to the University's already impressive portfolio of campus buildings.

Pennovation Works will be built on the former DuPont Marchall Research Laboratories site, a large industrial property along the Schuylkill River that will house the school's new South bank campus. 

The 23-acre industrial site located between 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue served as an automotive paint lab, manufacturing and testing facility for DuPont until 2009, when the factory was shut down.

The property, which includes 250,000 square feet of vacant laboratory, office and warehouse space, was acquired by Penn for $13 million.

Penn’s South Bank campus is the tip of the spear when it comes to recasting underused industrial property on the Lower Schuylkill as a zone for gritty creativity and economic growth.

The university has announced new plans to begin more deliberately transforming this 23-acre former DuPont campus into a buzzing hive of research and entrepreneurship, starting by establishing a new business incubator called the Pennovation Center.

Designed by architecture firm Wallace Roberts and Todd to support entrepreneurial and innovation growth in Philadelphia, the South Bank is an important component of Penn Connects 2.0—an ambitious long-term development strategy that has added almost 3 million square feet of space to Penn’s campus and increased the university’s open space on campus by 25 percent since 2006, when the university embarked on a two-decade expansion plan.

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A 200,000-square-foot incubator and accelerator dubbed the “Pennovation Center” will anchor the university’s campus and will serve as a hub for collaboration and creativity while encouraging the exchange of ideas for innovators from Penn’s departments.

According to a news release, Penn’s flexible project design allows for another 550,000 sq. ft. of new campus space that will be built in phases over the next twenty years.

The school’s long-term campus development strategy to add facilities while expanding the amount of open space it has. Penn has constructed four million square feet of new space on its West Philadelphia campus since 2006. At the same time, it has boosted the amount of open space by 25 percent.

South Bank aims to become a research park supporting entrepreneurs and advances in technology. The development would be multi-phased and will initially concentrate on adding new light industrial and flex-use buildings.  

At build out, up to 1.5 million square feet of new space will be constructed on South Bank.

Penn’s South Bank is very much in sync with Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation’s (PIDC) long-term revitalization plan of the entire Lower Schuylkill River into a 500-acre Innovation District, a Logistics Hub and an Energy Corridor while expanding riverfront green space.

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Penn will release a Request for Proposals for design services to help bring the Pennovation Center to life in a converted industrial building on the property.