Old City

Hopefully will be done by the end of next year

The other day we were ambling around Old City and found a giant hole at 2nd & Race. We've been doing this real estate blogging thing for years and can't think of many holes we've been happier to see in person. See, this one has been in the works for a really long time.

Fencing around the site
They'll need a crane

Our compadre over at the Philly Business Journal, Natalie Kostelni, had the scoop on the groundbreaking for the Bridge on Race Street back in August. In her story, she noted that Brown Hill Development bought the property fifteen years ago and that their plans for the property changed over time. A decade ago, plans emerged for a ten-story condo building but then the financial meltdown happened and the project landed on the shelf.

This is instead of a project nixed by the ZBA

Old City has been going through tremendous change lately. Whether it’s from big projects like One Water or the Bridge, or smaller ones like the development of townhomes, parking lots are turning into functional cityscape at a surprising rate

New drawings show an improved project but our major issue lingers

Yesterday's story about the ZBA approvals for the project at 401 Race Street inspired some heated conversation in the comments section, and also caught the attention of Barton Partners, the project architects. A representative was kind enough to send us an updated CDR submission which contains revised renderings for the project. We haven't seen these images anywhere else, so we thought it would be a good idea to pass 'em along. First though, we'll revisit the renderings from yesterday, for the sake of comparison.

Old rendering at 4th & Race
Old rendering at 5th & Race

Okay, now the new stuff:

Sure wish it was something more exciting

Your perspective on 401 Race St. probably depends on how long you've been in Philadelphia. Those who can remember back to the 1950s might remember when this building was home to the Whitman's Chocolate factory. We don't go back that far, but we do remember buying some suits there in the late 1990s from Pincus Brothers-Maxwell. And for people who only remember the last decade, you may not have ever given the property much thought, as it's been, to our knowledge, quietly waiting for its next chapter.

401 Race St., view from 4th Street
View at 5th & Race

About five years ago, ARC Properties came forward with a plan to demolish the old factory and replace it with a large and modern hotel building with a Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill on the first floor. This project ultimately fell through, perhaps because of neighbor opposition to the restaurant/club, or maybe because hotel deals can sometimes be delicate and this one just didn't work out. It's a darn shame, because JKRP Architects designed a really lovely building.

Five story homes with garages at 2nd & Vine

If you've traveled down 2nd Street in the last couple months, you've surely noticed that there's some relatively new construction activity on the southeast corner of 2nd & Vine. We've actually been meaning to cover this one for awhile, but the volume of traffic on 2nd Street has generally made it tough to snag the needed photos. Thanks to the Pope, we were able to safely take some pictures over the weekend, so here we go.

Construction progress

Developers purchased 150-54 Vine St. earlier this year for the very reasonable price of $900K. Now they're building 3 homes, each five stories tall and with a garage. Amazingly, it seems like this project is being done by-right thanks to the property's CMX-3 zoning. Since it sits in a historic district, the project did go before the Historical Commission but since the vacant lot was non-contributing they didn't really have very much to say about the project except that they didn't like the garages. But that feedback wasn't binding, and soon the homes, designed by Harman Deutsch, will look like this: