Saturday, December 19, 2015

#1 Best of 2015 - $425M Live! Hotel & Casino Project

A long-awaited new hotel and casino is coming to South Philly. Live! Hotel and Casino will be the second casino granted a gaming license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It is a beautiful $425 million, 650,000 square foot hotel and gaming complex located at 900 Packer Avenue, close to the sports complex. City officials anticipate the casino will generate approximately 3,000 construction jobs and 1,246 permanent positions. Live! is going to be just the second casino, along with SugarHouse Casino, in the city of Philadelphia.

The $425 million project is planned for a 9-acre parcel at Darien Street and Packer Avenue in South Philly. Presently, there is a 12-story Holiday Inn and surface parking lot at the site.

In their place, according to the plans, there’s to be an 19-floor, 300,000 square foot hotel with 220 rooms; an 8-story, 325,000 square foot casino and parking garage, and seven tiers of parking built over the casino floor covering approximately 1.3 million square feet of surface area.

The complex will have total parking capacity for 3,551 vehicles.

Its main features are a 175,000-square-foot gaming floor that will be open 24 hours a day. It will have 2,150 slot machines and 125 table games, including ninety-two banking games and thirty-three poker tables for all to enjoy, along with 12 high-limit tables, and 80 high-limit slots.

On top of the seven-tiered garage garage will be a rooftop green space with 35,000 square feet for 400 occupants, 75 percent of which will be covered with at least 12 inches of soil planted with grass.

On the second floor of the hotel will be a spa, and on the Penthouse level, along with suites, there will be “private gaming areas.”

Eating will not be a problem for all types of tastes. There are six restaurants throughout. There is everything from high-end food options with celebrity chefs to a food court everyone can enjoy.

It also includes a very large entertainment venue, which will be more than 10,000 square-feet plus 6,500 square-feet of private event space. It all is highlighted by a 1,000-person music venue with a rooftop to keep the party alive.

There is also a planned “Asian Pit,” an area that gets its name from its designation for games frequented by persons from Asian countries or backgrounds. The casino plans to work hard to woo Asians. It’s an important segment to the casino industry as a whole.  A New York Times story estimates that casinos earn 25 percent of their revenue from Asian gamblers.

The City of Philadelphia anticipates that the casino will generate approximately 3,000 construction jobs and 1,246 permanent positions — though the goal given for employing local residents in construction is 32 percent of the total jobs.

Plans call for:
  • A “Las Vegas style” casino with a gaming floor that would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Another 10,000-square-foot entertainment venue and 6,500-square-foot private event space.
  • Six restaurants ranging “from high-end options to a modern diner concept, a food court and a celebrity chef concept.”
  • Renovation of the existing Holiday Inn hotel and conference center into a 220-room hotel with a pool, spa, and fitness facilities.
  • A 1,000-person music venue and rooftop party deck.

The site is accessible via SEPTA’s Broad Street Line and several bus routes, and is also close to major interstates and the Walt Whitman Bridge. Valet parking will be available at the casino, or drivers would use a 3,551-space, self-parking garage.

The site is in close proximity to Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park and the Wells Fargo Center, as well as the Xfinity Live! Complex.

The stadium district attracts over eight million visitors a year with 300 events per year. It would be a tremendous driver of traffic for the gaming facility.

The principals expect the development to draw four million visitors annually. The group says its plan will capitalize on the eight million people who already visit the stadium district each year, as well as draw new gamblers from South Jersey.

Live! Hotel and Casino is a joint venture of Greenwood Racing, Inc. (GRI) and Cordish Companies.

Greenwood Racing owns Parx Casino in Bensalem, the highest-revenue-generating casino in the state. Greenwood operates the Atlantic City Race Course and other off-track betting facilities. The company’s key principals include CEO Anthony Ricci and Robert Greene, the chairman and founder.

Baltimore-based Cordish operates multiple casinos and entertainment complexes across the country, including Xfinity Live! in Philadelphia. It operates the recently opened Maryland Live! Casino. The company also owns urban mixed-use projects in Houston, Kansas City and Atlantic City, among others. Its key principals include brothers Jonathan, Blake and Reed Cordish, as well as company partners Joseph Weinberg and Charles Jacobs.

According to the principals, they envision Live! as “one of the major gaming, resort and entertainment destinations in the eastern United States, combining integrated casino, hotel and entertainment facilities.”

Monday, December 14, 2015

#2 Best of 2015 - $100M 'Fergie Tower' to 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.

                    Click images to enlarge
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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#3 Best of 2015 - PA’s Highest Apartment Tower for South Broad St

A sleek 47-story hotel/condo tower planned for the corner of South Broad & Spruce streets has been approved by the Civic Design Review Committee. The SLS International Hotel and Residences will soar 590 feet and will house 125 luxury condo units, 150 hotel rooms, an Olympic sized swimming pool, a restaurant and retail space. The $200 million building will be Pennsylvania’s tallest residential structure, and its units will be among its most expensive. Construction is expected to take about two years to complete.

Dranoff Properties is clear to begin construction of SLS International Hotel and Residences - a 47-story, 590-foot tower with 125 condos and 150 hotel rooms at Broad and Spruce streets, across the street from the Kimmel Center.

There are currently two buildings on the site. These will be torn down, but first asbestos must be removed.

Remediation will begin in late fall or early winter, with demolition to follow and construction to begin as soon as the site is clear.

The new building will be designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, architects of the world's highest hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong.

Project details:
  • 47 stories and 590 feet tall
  • Approximately 423,000 square feet
  • 162 five-star hotel rooms
  • 125 luxury condos, ranging from one-bedroom units to penthouses
  • The hotel and condos units will have separate lobbies
  • Ground-floor retail stores
  • 6,000-square-foot, double-height glass ballroom on the fifth-floor
  • Olympic sized swimming pool, fitness center and spa
  • A ground-floor corner bar and restaurant
  • Target groundbreaking: next fall
  • Construction time: two years
  • Cost: more than $200 million
  • Total parking spots: 233
  • One level of underground parking; three levels above-grade
  • The garage will be limited to residents and hotel-uses, and all parking will be by valet.

The compelling 47-story tower is intended to act as a catalyst for the future of development to the south of Center City, said architect Gene Kohn.

Developer, Carl Dranoff, says the building will be the Pennsylvania’s “tallest structure built for residential use.“

The 590-foot tower will be taller than the William Penn statue on top of City Hall, and its units will be among the City’s most expensive.

Construction will require the demolition 301-309 South Broad Street, the longtime home of Philadelphia International Records. The building suffered significant fire damage in 2010.

The name, SLS International, is a nod to Philadelphia International – which was famous for the “Philadelphia Sound,” showcased in the recordings of artists such as The Three Degrees, Teddy Pendergass, and The O’Jays.

311 South Broad will also be demolished, and the University of the Arts lot at 313 South Broad Street will be taken and used as a loading dock.

The SLS International Hotel and Residences will be one of Philly's most upscale properties once complete. Not only will it be the tallest building on Broad Street, it will also house an Olympic sized swimming pool, a spa and boast the highest penthouses in the city.

The project calls for condos from floors 20 to 47, hotel rooms on lower floors, and amenities including restaurants, a gym, swimming pool and a spa near street level.

The new building will feature stone at the base, but will be primarily made of metal and glass. The glass will have a high-performance coating, and the metal will be covered with a bright metallic paint.

Friday, December 4, 2015

#4 Best of 2015 - Drexel University 16-Story Apartment Tower

A Drexel University-owned lot at 3201 Race Street will soon have a new life as Radnor Property Group prepares for construction of a new 207-foot apartment building near the 30th Street Station's Amtrak lines, beefing up University City's growing skyline.

The glassy 16-story residential tower, designed by Philadelphia-based Erdy McHenry Architecture, will rise at the corner of 32nd and Race Streets and house 164 market rate rental apartments.

The building will rise above a mixed-use platform that will contain a large childcare facility and a public green space that looks over the train tracks towards Center City.

The project will also include 12 market rate townhomes to the north, a green roof and an underground parking facility with 26 spaces. There are also 61 bike spots and two car share spaces.

The 168,000 square foot complex will maximize green space on the site.

A green roof, with an amenity terrace, is planned, the townhomes will have storm water management systems and it will adhere to sustainability principles in an effort to achieve LEED certification.

The project was born out of a request for proposal from Drexel University for projects geared towards market rate housing and childcare for their staff and the nearby community. 

The childcare facility will be able to accommodate 150 to 164 kids and scholarships will be available to eligible families. There will also be an outdoor green area for the kids to play.

This won't be undergraduate housing; they’ll be marketing the units and homes to young professionals, faculty, staff and graduate student. 122 will be one-bedroom units, with the other 42 being two-bedroom layouts, providing prime views of Center City.

Radnor hopes to get started on the demolition of all structures on the lot later this year and break ground early in 2016. Construction is expected to take 18 months, with the goal of opening in the spring of 2017.