Saturday, May 28, 2016

$100M Tower to Rise 26-Stories Above 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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pair Accused of Stealing $250,000 in Electrical Supplies

A former police officer and his wife are accused of the theft of approximately $250,000 in electrical materials from an electrical supply company in West Monroe, Louisiana. According to the arrest warrant, a manager at Elliott Electric Supply, "conspired with and aided her husband in stealing electrical supplies from the warehouse."

Paul Dunn Jr., and his wife, Martha Denese Dunn, were booked into Ouachita Correctional Center, accused of felony theft and felony criminal conspiracy.

A representative from Elliott Electric Supply said that approximately $250,000 in electrical merchandise went missing over a two-year period.

As part of the theft investigation, business inventory, invoices, order tickets, ship tickets, video surveillance, job estimates, security system logs, job blueprints, employment statements and additional documentation were examined.

Investigators found that items invoiced to Dunn's electrical contracting company, Service Electric Co., did not coincide with estimates of the materials that should have been needed on those jobs.

The arrest warrant states other electrical suppliers said Service Electric only obtained a small amount of materials from their firms during the time period investigated.

Dunn's employees told investigators they would text Dunn most evenings and detail the amount of materials needed for the next day. They would then pick the materials up at Dunn's house or he would bring it by the site the next morning, according to the arrest records.

According to the warrant, security system logs indicated from Jan. 1, 2015, to Sept. 28, 2015, Denese Dunn's scan code accessed Elliott Electric 384 times after hours. Video surveillance recordings are reported as showing Paul Dunn loading electric materials alone after closing time.

The warrant also states documentation and employee statements show some tickets and invoices to SEC were never billed or were deleted by Denese Dunn, who had started work at Elliott approximately eight years ago while Dunn started his electric business approximately three years ago.

As part of the theft investigation, police officers obtained a warrant to search Paul Dunn's phone and located photos and text messages containing electrical material lists. The lists were determined to contain estimated materials in keeping with what Dunn should have used for major jobs.

Specific missing items or items not billed delineated in the arrest warrant include a 100-Kilowatt generator valued at approximately $25,000, four smaller generators valued at $3,000 each and $90,000 in wire.

One generator was reportedly installed at the Dunn's home while another was in an ex-relatives home. It also estimated Service Electric would have used a similar quantity of wiring over the past two years.

Court documents said Paul Dunn was fired from the Monroe Police Department and charged with malfeasance in office and felony theft in 2000. On Sept. 27, 2004, he pleaded guilty to theft.

Dunn is also due in court for a trial on charges of violating a protective order, reportedly stalking his ex-wife.

Bond for Paul Dunn and Denese Dunn was set at $100,000 each for felony theft and $25,000 each for felony conspiracy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

216-unit Apartment Complex Coming to 401 Race Street

The City Planning Commission approved developer Priderock Capital Group’s proposal to build a 4-story, 216-unit apartment complex at 4th and Race streets in Old City, despite concerns raised by the Civic Design Review Committee.

The Civic Design Review Committee felt the design for 401 Race Street was overly suburban and not ambitious enough for the most historic acre in the United States.

The 216-unit residential complex will be bounded by 4th, 5th, Race, and Florist streets, just off of Independence Mall.

The site is on its own block, surrounded on various sides by historic Old City, the U.S. Mint, and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Developers had previously proposed building a controversial hotel project on the site.

“This building has to look like an important, civic-minded building… It has got to be a great goddamn building,” said Architectural Committee panelist Cecil Baker.

Nancy Rogo-Trainer, a commissioner and chair of the Civic Design Review Committee said, “The materials in particular are disappointing. It’s really kind of sad when someone building a block from Independence Mall thinks that standard brick is too deluxe a material, too expensive.”

Alan Greenberger, the commission chairman, said he didn’t have any problems with the two variances the developer is seeking, for height and loading.

He also said the prominence of the site may not be “what it’s cracked up to be,” given that the south side of the property faces a solid blank wall across Race Street.

Get more information about the project HERE.


Wednesday, May 4, 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.