Friday, February 26, 2016

Hanover North Broad Mega-Development Breaks Ground

Nearly four years in the making, a major development that aims to serve as a catalyst for North Broad Street's growth has finally broken ground. 

Hanover North Broad is a multi-use development located on two gigantic lots on the southeast and southwest corners of North Broad at Callowhill Street, next door to the old Inquirer building.

The project, being developed by Philadelphia's Parkway Corp. and Houston-based Hanover Co., will include two six-story apartment buildings across the street from one another on either side of Broad Street.

The project will create a total of 339 apartments, and has the potential to create a new gateway to North Broad Street in Philadelphia.

The larger building on the southwest corner, at 322 North Broad Street, will house 229 studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments, as well as 11,000-square-feet of retail space.

The other building, located at 339 North Broad Street, will include 110 units and 6,000-square-feet of retail.

The project will include a small garage with 330 parking spots and 38 bike parking spots, to be shielded from view by a perforated metal screen.

Both buildings will have interior courtyards, and offer resort-caliber amenities such as a private residence clubhouse with fitness center, screening room and business center.

The individual units will have stainless steel appliances, stone countertops, wood-style flooring and expansive windows.
Construction is expected be complete in 18 months.

"This is going to be a first-class project," said Mayor Jim Kenney at the groundbreaking—his first since taking office in January.

The project is among a wave of residential development that will bring 5,833 new housing units to central Philadelphia over the next three years, according to the Center City District business group.

It joins other projects revitalizing Broad Street just north of City Hall, including developer Eric Blumenfeld's redevelopment of the Divine Lorraine Hotel into apartments and a retail and residential complex proposed nearby by New York-based RAL Cos.

Hanover’s Greater Philadelphia experience includes Domus, a 290-unit, mixed-use project in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania at 34th and Chestnut Streets in University City; Hanover Valley Forge, a 338-unit residential project under construction at the Village at Valley Forge, and a mixed-use community in Upper Merion Township adjacent to the Mall at King of Prussia.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Massive $1B Plan to Reshape Camden Waterfront

Liberty Property Trust plans to transform a 16-acre swath of land on the Camden the waterfront into a vibrant live/work/play environment. The cost? A billion dollars.

The City of Camden has announced an ambitious plan to completely transform 16-acres of prime waterfront land on the Delaware River, between the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Adventure Aquarium, into offices, hotels, retail stores and high-rise residences.

Liberty Property Trust, the mega-developers behind the Navy Yard and Center City’s Comcast towers, will spearhead the $1 billion proposed development, the largest ever private sector investment in the city’s history.

Liberty envisions a mixed-use development that will attract major corporations, employment and significant inward investment.

The project will swap what seems like miles of surface parking lots for a live/work/play mix of glitzy office towers and low-rises, a residential component, lively restaurants and retail and even a hotel.

The development will seek to take advantage of the seemingly plentiful tax credits through New Jersey’s Grow New Jersey program.

Governor Christie called the announcement "proof that what Camden's been doing is working," while Camden Mayor Dana Redd said the project will "fundamentally change the city's future."

According to a press release from the city, Liberty has signed an agreement with Steiner + Associates, owners of the Adventure Aquarium, to purchase Camden Town Center LLC, with the intent to pursue the development of 16 acres of Camden waterfront.


If approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Liberty would then need to obtain the proper permits for the project. The development is already being backed by many power players from throughout the region.

In addition to the $1 billion Liberty plan, the city reports that there is more than $1.5 billion in new development that is either funded, in development or recently completed.

Tax credits have played a major role in the waterfront boom, luring a string of high-profile businesses to Camden recently.

The Philadelphia 76ers are constructing a new state-of-the-art practice facility nearby. Subaru will consolidate their U.S. operations into one complex headquartered in Camden.

“The Camden Waterfront represents a unique opportunity to develop a project of this scale in the center of a major metropolitan area. This visionary project will reshape the central waterfront in a way that will be truly transformative for Camden,” said Bill Hankowsky, in a press release.

Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture and architect behind the Comcast Center and the GSK building in the Navy Yard, designed the master plan for the site.

The development will be highlighted by two glassy high-rises that overlook the Delaware River, the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia skyline.

The arrangement of angular structures (each shaped a like Vermont) evokes a vibe reminiscent of the Schuylkill River skyline, which is still being shaped by the ever-growing FMC Tower.

Architecturally, they’re certainly unlike anything existing on along Philly’s Delaware River waterfront.

The project would create thousands of jobs for construction workers and bring thousands of permanent jobs to the city.

If all goes according to plan, the project could break ground as early as the third quarter of 2016 with occupancy expected in late 2018 and 2019.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Developer Proposes Massive Project in South Philly

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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Franklin Electric Acquires Griffith Electric Supply

Griffith Electric, the Trenton company that once operated from the iconic flatiron building at South Broad and Second streets, has been acquired by Franklin Electric of Moorestown, New Jersey.

Griffith celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2013 and currently operates from a 75,000 square-foot warehouse across from the flatiron building, and has locations in Robbinsville, Lumberton, Bridgewater, NJ and Langhorne, PA.

With the acquisition, Franklin Electric now operates four additional branch locations in central and southern New Jersey and can capitalize on Griffith’s relationships with electrical contractors in the commercial and residential markets and with customers in the government and institutional markets.

Both businesses are members of the IMARK buying/marketing group.

The companies said in a statement they are similar in their history and culture, and both are family-owned and established.

Moving forward as one company will enable them to grow and evolve in the changing electrical supply industry in the Philadelphia and New Jersey markets, the statement said.

Once fully merged, Franklin plans to increase the number of its associates and locations, enhance its expertise and exposure in profitable counter business, and diversify markets to include state and institutional business and small contractors, the statement said.

Bill Goodwin, president of Griffith Electric
"The successful integration of both companies will allow us to better serve our combined customer base and expand our geographic footprint further into central and northern New Jersey," said Bill Walker, president and CEO of Franklin Electric.

"This is the coming together of two great companies with similar cultures," Griffith President Bill Goodwin said in the statement. "And we very much look forward to being a part of Franklin Electric."

Griffith Electric, based in South Trenton, has developed a regional reach with branches in Bridgewater, Robbinsville, Lumberton and Langhorne.

"Together our companies represent over 170 years of experience in the electrical industry," Goodwin said.

Franklin was founded in 1920 by William Walker Sr. and Bill Walker represents the third generation to run and own the company.

Griffith Electric was founded in 1938 by the late Bill and Meta Griffith.

Bill Griffith started the company in 1938 after he lost his position as a salesman at another Trenton electric supply company. Meta Griffith, who worked as a secretary at a rival company, followed her husband and they laid the roots for the company's growth, company officials have said.

When Bill died in 1971, Meta took over, making her name as a businesswoman in a male-dominated field and a leader in the local business community, the company said in 2013 at an anniversary celebration.

Meta Griffith passed away in 2010 at the age of 101. Goodwin was named as the successor in 2003, taking over day-to-day operations.