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:
The intersection of Broad and Wood Streets, just north of the Vine Street Expressway, has seen a tremendous amount of change over the course of two centuries. As the neighborhood around North Broad Street has transformed, the building at the southwest corner of the intersection has shifted constantly to reflect this transformation. Hexamer & Locher’s Philadelphia Atlas shows that the corner in question was occupied by a Commission & Storage Depot in 1858.
Commission & Storage Depot connected to adjacent Coal Yard, 1858
Just a few years later, Samuel L. Smedley’s 1862 Atlas shows that the Coal Yard had come to occupy this entire stretch of the industrially-focused Broad Street.
Coal Yard, 1862
By 1875, the primary commodity stored at the corner had changed from coal to lumber. The Lumber Yard is attributed to one R.H. Dobbins.
Over a year ago, we wrote a post titled 1919 Market Should be Moving Forward Soon. Soon being a relative term, this technically wasn't an incorrect assertion even though the site has sat dormant since we wrote the post. That is, it was dormant until very recently when earth finally started moving around. We zipped over there to see the (extremely limited) progress in person.
Project finally underway
In case you don't remember, the plans are for a twenty-eight story building with 278 apartments, 223 parking spaces, 108 bike parking spaces, retail on the first floor, and offices on the second floor. Brandywine Realty Trust is the developer behind the project, having purchased the lot back in 2011 for $9.3M. Amazingly, this parcel has sat vacant for decades, ever since the Penn Center Inn was demolished in anticipation of twin to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building that never got built. A number of other plans have come along and not happened over the years, but it looks like Brandywine is finally winning the race against nobody to develop this property.