The brand-spankin’-new Philadelphia Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) is really a sight to behold. With its soaring spires (208 feet high), grey granite facade, and neoclassical exterior architecture, it completely sticks out among the various new buildings being built in our fair city. Indeed, a building of its stature is more likely to be demolished these days than be built. And yet, the LDS (AKA Mormon) Church meant first and foremost for this building to fit its regional surroundings. They wanted it to look like it has always been here. Its neoclassical exterior matches the neighboring former family court and Free Library in roof height and style, although it differs significantly in color. The spires and the interiors are meant to harken back to the Georgian era in which our country was founded.
The temple (left) and the meetinghouse (right), both complete
Last week, we had the chance to explore both the grounds and get a tour of the interiors of the meetinghouse and the temple which sit next to each other, divided by 17th Street. The temple began construction back in September of 2011 and it has been a slow but steady progress ever since. Now, we have the chance to see what a $70-$100M (we’re unsure of the actual numbers) investment has created.
We have a number of friends that moved to the Sterling at 1815 JFK Blvd. post-college because the building offered reasonable rents and an outstanding downtown location. But the building was really showing its age, and the rents were reasonable because the apartments were generally crappy. Aimco, owners of the Sterling since 1999, began renovating the building a couple years back according to the PBJ, and the new units are a huge improvement. Granite countertops! Stainless steel appliances! Hardwood floors! You get the idea.
As you can see, it's not just our sense of nostalgia that makes this building's demolition a darn shame. The facade has some nice original details, but the intact original stone sign for Wallace Storage & Carpet Cleaning Co. has made this building stand out from its surroundings for a century. As we told you previously, an eight home project from US Construction will rise in place of the building. JKRP Architects did the design work, and a cornice-like detail above the first floors of the three homes on 21st Street will reference the stone sign on the soon-to-be-demolished building. It's a fine thought, but the new construction certainly won't have the same character as the old building.
By now, perhaps you've heard of Skygarten, the "beer garden" at 1717 Arch St. on the 51st floor of Three Logan Square. We like beer, we enjoy the occasional beer garden, and we happened to have an event there so we checked it out earlier this week. For those wondering there was indeed beer there. But we confess, we didn't see much of a garden. What we did see was an amazing view of the city and a spectacular look at the ongoing construction at the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center.
Amazingly, it seems we haven't checked in on this major project in quite some time, since shortly after construction began. As you've probably noticed if you've walked around this area at any point recently, this building is chugging along rather impressively. Check out the progress, as viewed from the 51st floor of the building next door:
Papa John's offered better ingredients and better pizza at 2100 Market St. for quite awhile, but closed their doors a couple years back. The building has sat vacant ever since, though an LLC related to Brandywine Realty Trust purchased the property as part of a larger assemblage last year. A reader gave us the heads up the other day that construction is now taking place here, with a fence surrounding the property and the retail space apparently gutted. Permits indicate a take-out restaurant is coming, and we wonder whether Papa John's will be making a return.