Monday, March 27, 2017

7 Major Projects Planning to Break Ground in Philadelphia

There are no less than seven major projects in various stages of the approval process waiting to get underway in Philadelphia, including the Hyatt Centric Hotel, PHA Headquarters, and the 4th and Callowhill Towers.

Philadelphia Housing Authority New Headquarters

2013 Ridge Avenue


The Philadelphia Housing Authority plans a five-story limestone-and-terra-cotta office building at Ridge Avenue and Jefferson Street in the city's Sharswood neighborhood as its new headquarters.

Plans for the 119,000-square-foot PHA building also call for retail space and a cafe on the structure's ground floor.

The PHA is moving its headquarters from western Center City to Sharswood, a neighborhood just north of Girard College, as part of its $500-million redevelopment plan involving hundreds of new homes for the North Philadelphia neighborhood. An 18,500-square-foot Save-A-Lot grocery store is also planned near the new PHA headquarters building.

Architect: BLT Architects

Aramark’s New Global Headquarters

2400-2414 Market Street


Aramark has big plans for its new global headquarters on Market Street. The $15 billion, Fortune 200 global leader in food, facilities management and uniforms plans to relocate to 2400 Market Street in early 2019.

Situated along the Schuylkill River, the existing structure, originally built as a Hudson Motor Car Company plant in the 1920s, will be transformed into a modern, 600,000 square foot, nine-story building with an emphasis on innovation, sustainability and green space.

Aramark will occupy the top five floors and nearly 300,000 square feet as the building’s anchor tenant. Building plans include featuring the Aramark logo in a similar manner to the company’s iconic sign atop its current 1101 Market Street location.

Architect: Gensler
Developer: PMC Property Group

Hyatt Centric Hotel

1612 Chancellor Street

Big plan are afoot to construct a new 12-story, 300-room Hyatt Centric hotel at 17th and Chancellor Streets. The hotel will be constructed on a site where a four-story parking garage now stands. Little Pete's diner, in the retail portion of the parking structure, will have to search for another location.

The hotel is planned to have a rooftop restaurant, underground parking and retail space.

The Hyatt Centric will be the second Hyatt hotel in Philadelphia's inventory along with Hyatt at the Bellevue on Broad Street. The 348-room Hyatt on Penn's Landing, earlier this year, was rebranded as a full-service Hilton hotel called Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing.

The lifestyle brand Hyatt Centric, by Hyatt Hotels Corp. was introduced early last year, becoming the sixth brand Hyatt has introduced since 2006. The Hyatt Centric name was inspired by the brand’s mission of putting its guest at the center of the action in the best destinations.

Architect: DAS Architects

4th and Callowhill Towers

Tower 1: 309-315 Callowhill Street

Tower 2: 444 N. 3rd Street

This Cecil Baker + Partners-designed project will bring two 23- and 26-story residential towers to a mostly industrial area between Old City and Northern Liberties. The design was driven by the East Callowhill zoning overlay, which was passed to encourage more mixed-use development.

The project is using storm water management, a public space, mixed-income, and retail for added height bonuses that are within the ECO.

2501 Washington Avenue

Plans call for 17 single-family townhomes, two 2-family dwellings, and another 5-story mixed-use development with 64 multi-family dwellings on the fairly drab corner of 25th and Washington in Grays Ferry.

The goal is to enliven the corner with retail on the ground and basement levels of the mixed-use building, and make the area a more popular neighborhood.

Architect: PZS Architects

1845 Hartranft Street

Down in South Philly, this DesignBlendz project calls for 34 residences with 28 garages and 12 parking spaces.

Plans for the interior courtyard include a green wall to bring some life to the development.

Architect: DesignBlendz

4440-42 Ridge Avenue

This Harman Deutsch-designed proposal for a 136-unit mixed-use development would be neighbors to the already under construction Ridge Flats development at 4300 Ridge Avenue and Falls Bridge Lofts next door.

Architects: Harman Deutsch

Monday, March 20, 2017

Massive $6.5B Redevelopment Planned for University City

University City is in for some major changes thanks to a new redevelopment plan from Amtrak and partners SEPTA, Brandywine Realty Trust, and Drexel University. The plan will be the single largest development project in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and turn West Philadelphia into a regional economic hub. 

The development is expected to cost $6.5 billion, with $2 billion going to infrastructure investments and the other $4.5 billion coming from developers.

The project is expected to create 22,000 construction jobs and another 10,000 permanent jobs, and add 8,000 to 10,000 residents to the city’s population.

The massive venture will focus on the area around 30th Street Station, the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system, ultimately turning the area into a second downtown for Philadelphia.

Plans for the station and surrounding neighborhood will start with the capping of the existing Amtrak and SEPTA-owned rail yards to accommodate 10 million square feet of development along the Schuylkill River.

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New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created, with most of the development privately financed.

The project will include housing for 10,000 residents and create 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.

Three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City, are also planned.

The redevelopment site consists of a total of 175 acres in the University City neighborhood, 88 of which is occupied by the Amtrak rail yard.

This project is the culmination of a two-year study of the site, which extends east of Drexel’s campus between Walnut and Spring Garden Streets and northeast from 30th Street Station.

Among the infrastructure improvements are plans to relocate a ramp for the Schuylkill Expressway in favor of a new bus terminal.

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In addition to the bus facility, Amtrak also plans to expand The Porch at 30th Street Station.

A new gateway park will surround the facility with a tree-lined promenade along the river, a west-side plaza that could be used for large-scale events and a north plaza along Arch Street.

The 30th Street Station itself will also receive a major renovation that will add retail space and a new pedestrian plaza around the train station.

A new underground concourse that will connect the SEPTA subway station at 30th Street to the Amtrak station, is also planned.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Grand Plans for Revamped Philadelphia Museum of Art

Construction on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s $196 million core project, designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry, is set to begin this spring.

Some big changes coming to the museum include a 640-foot vaulted walkway that will run from Kelly Drive to the Schuylkill River, which hasn’t been opened since the 1960s. More gallery space will be built and multiple spaces, including Lenfest Hall, will be renovated.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has pulled back the curtain on its grand plans for the future of one of Philadelphia’s cultural treasures.

Like Philadelphia’s own Parthenon, the Philadelphia Museum of Art sits majestically on a rise at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The vast collections of this temple of art make it the third-largest art museum in the country, and an absolute must-see on the city’s museum circuit.

Since opening to the public in 1928, the art museum has welcomed countless visitors, artists and exhibitions, evolving its collections and programming to accommodate 21st-century needs. However, few significant updates have been made to the structure itself.

Now, after nearly 90 years of use, the museum has revealed a comprehensive plan for the renovation, revitalization and expansion of the Parthenon on the Parkway, tapping celebrated architect Frank Gehry to design and now implement this ambitious multi-phase project.

The Master Plan

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A great bastion of fine art, the historic Philadelphia Museum of Art is more than mere museum — it’s a civic landmark and a true architectural treasure.

Plans to renovate the venerated building have been under consideration for more than a decade, with an initial integrated Facilities Master Plan completed by architectural engineering firm Vitetta in 2004 and design development by Frank Gehry and his group dating back to 2006

Gehry, renowned around the world for such expressive buildings as the Guggenheim Bilboa and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, has taken a very different approach with the Philadelphia Museum of Art project. The architect has said he is embracing the DNA of the building, and not making many obvious exterior changes.

Rather, his design aims to open the interior space and make the museum far more navigable to visitors and desirable for displays of fine art.

All phases of the Master Plan have been approved, and the coming years will see both major and minor enhancements to the interior and exterior of the museum as funding is secured, touching every portion of the grand building.

There are no fewer than 10 principal components of the Master Plan, from key updates of infrastructure to the addition of 124,000 square feet of public space.

For the exterior, few changes have been proposed to preserve the integrity of the building, keeping alternations to the facade and the iconic “Rocky steps” to a minimum.

The interior, however, will see such major improvements as the renovation and expansion of Lenfest Hall and the Great Stair Hall, the reopening of a public entrance on the north side of the museum leading through a gorgeous vaulted corridor, as well as the creation of a brand-new central space beneath the Great Stair Hall leading to 55,000 square feet of new gallery space to be carved out beneath the east terrace.

The comprehensive and ambitious Master Plan will, of course, be implemented in phases. A handful of key improvements — dubbed the Core Project — will be the next portion of the Master Plan to roll out.

And that’s only the start.

No undertaking this significant could be accomplished in one fell swoop, and timeline estimations for the execution of the Master Plan in its entirety range from 10 to 15 years.

Once complete, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be prepared for the next 90 years…and beyond.

Monday, March 6, 2017

$280M W Hotel to Rise on Chestnut Street

Chestlen Development is beginning 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 Spring 2018.
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 three levels of  below-grade parking garage for 185 vehicles.

Element Philadelphia will feature 460 rooms and a 6,392 square-foot sky lobby, and W Philadelphia will feature 295 rooms, a 2,900 square-foot spa, a 3,505 square foot outdoor pool and deck, a 1,590 square foot pool bar, and a 2,974 square foot garden area.

The tower 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 building the 769,704 square-foot project for Chestlen Development. Cope Linder Architects is the project designer.

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 Element by Westin is expected to be completed by Spring 2018.