The vacant lot on the 1900 block of Walnut Street, across from Rittenhouse Square, has embarrassing the neighborhood for over twenty years. Over the years, a variety of possible projects have come down the pike for this property, including a large parking lot and movie theater project from the PPA.
Current view on Walnut Street
Sansom Street view
Historic buildings on Sansom Street
Some of those plans have been close to becoming a reality, but we're pretty sure none have come as close as the current proposal from Southern Land Company. We told you about this project at the beginning of the year when the details of the project were still up in the air. Back then, we showed you an image of the massing of three buildings with a small building on Walnut Street and two huge buildings on Sansom Street. Now, thanks to Skyscraperpage, we see that a totally different plan is now in the works. The developers are cooking up a plan for a 51 floor, 600' building that would include a mix of rental apartments, condos, and retail. Solomon Cordwell Buenz did the design work.
What a slog it's been for the northwest corner of 17th & South. For years, this large and prominent lot sat vacant.
In the past
It was therefore with great excitement that, in the summer of 2011, we shared the news that developers were planning a new mixed-use building for this address. It took almost a year for them to get approvals from the ZBA, and then near neighbors appealed the project, putting it on hold. Finally, in the beginning of 2014, construction began on this nine-unit building and we told you that 7-11 would be leasing the ground floor space. But the construction process was slow, stalling completely by the time the summer rolled around. The building sat, mostly framed, for months, and then construction started up again in October. A little over a year later, the building looks like it's finished and the retail tenant is getting close to opening. The Slurpee machines are in place, and the awnings went up this week.
Chestnut Street has seen a serious retail revival in recent years, marking a major recovery from the damage caused by the Chestnut Street Transitway (and Philly's general malaise through the early 1990s). Stores like Uniqlo and Nordstrom Rack have opened their first downtown locations on Chestnut. Joan Shepp, seeking more space and lower rent, fled Walnut Street to move just a block to the north. And just a few weeks ago, Five Below opened a flagship store on the 1500 block, in the building that was once home to the Arcadia Theater.
The 1700 block of Chestnut Street
Today we bring 1722-24 Chestnut St. to your attention, despite the fact that it's currently vacant. For many years, a Hallmark made its home on the first floor, but that store closed sometime last year. It was built for Winkleman & Brothers in 1929, according to the PHMC Cultural Resources Database. Now, the entire building is available for lease, with about 4,000 sqft of space on each of the three floors. Metro Commercial has the listing.
We've been fascinated by old movie theaters for as long as we can remember. There's just something about that old marquee that transports us to a time long before we were born, before megaplexes, when movie premieres were a thing and people actually got dressed up to go to see a picture. In those days, of course, our fine city was littered with hundreds of cinemas, the majority of which are now demolished. But a few have lingered, and even though most don't look anything like they did when they were first built, we're grateful that they're still around. Take, for example, 1529 Chestnut St., the former Arcadia Theater. Now it's home to a new Five Below.