Considering how little distance it covers, there's a disproportionate amount of stuff happening on 21st Street between Race and Spring Streets. This block is most famous as the home of the Please Touch Museum for decades until its move to Fairmount Park. It's perhaps slightly less famous for its views of the IMAX theater at the Franklin Institute. This blog has visited the block on several occasions, generally to provide updates about the construction of a project at the corner of 21st & Race which seems to have dragged on.
Matzi Builders and Developers tore down an old school district building over two years ago in anticipation of constructing eight large and high-end homes. The project is aptly called the Eight on Race. A year ago, we checked in and saw that four of the eight were framed out. Today, those four homes are approaching completion at last. We're not sure but we're under the impression that at some point construction slowed considerably or stopped entirely. Are we right, people who live near here?
The end of August was our last visit to 1919 Market St., a long vacant corner in Philadelphia's central business district that we've eyed repeatedly over the years. Remember, this parcel was, a few years back, the site of the first PHS Pop-up Garden. And when we last made our way to the site, the good people at Brandywine Realty Trust had finally broken ground on a nice-sized mixed-use building. We aren't coming back to this property today because they've made a noteworthy amount of progress; instead we're just relaying some new and more specific information that emerged yesterday on Philly.com.
Standing at the corner of 22nd & Spring Garden, there's a couple of things that should catch your eye.
Most notable is the ongoing demolition effort of the former Best Western Hotel on the southeastern corner. Back in July, we noticed a fence around this property and thought that demolition could soon get started. Looking at this photo, you can see that the building is very much coming down.
Best Western building is disappearing
It's worth a visit if you have time in the coming weeks, as the destruction of a large building is always something interesting to witness in person. After demolition is finished, Rodin Square will eventually arrive on the scene, containing a new Whole Foods, 293 new apartments, some other retail offerings, and considerably more attractive architecture than the site has enjoyed to this point.
The last couple of years have been a huge inconvenience for anyone who works at, walks through, or commutes via City Hall, as east-west passage has been blocked by construction at the former Dilworth Plaza. Make no mistake, we were pleased as punch a few years ago to learn that the brutal public space in front of our county seat would be getting a makeover. And when you compare the new Dilworth Park with the old Dilworth Plaza, it's a dramatic improvement. But like some others, we had a couple of issues with the unbelievably expensive effort.
We have to state again, it's a big improvement over what was there before. Gone are the odd elevation changes. With a glassy entrance, Septa access is far less confusing, and a new elevator improves accessibility. It doesn't smell like pee (yet), and the fact that Center City District will be managing it for the next two decades might mean that it won't any time soon. When we visited, dozens of kids were soaked from head to toe, running through the 11K sqft fountain in the middle of the park. The dancing water element, by the way, looks super cool. There's much more greenery than in the past. There's a cafe located in a glassy building with a swooping roof that serves booze which isn't outrageously overpriced. Check out the pretty pictures: