Rittenhouse

Across from glassy modern building, an older structure gets a facelift

For many years, Walnut Street has been Center City's ritziest commercial corridor, the place that every high-end retailer wants to sell their wares. Still, a few holdouts have stubbornly remained, resembling a sore thumb more and more as time has passed. Several tenants at the attractive building at 1501 Walnut St. were holdovers from another era, with a small corner store holding down the corner of 15th & Walnut and then a tailor shop and a shoe repair place as you went up 15th Street.

In the past

But time she is a cruel mistress, and change is the only constant. Last year, PREIT bought the building, and all of those businesses are now but a memory. If you pass by the building today, you'll see that the first and second floors have been gutted. Looking at the old storefronts and window treatments, you'll agree that this is a good thing.

Previous incarnation isn't happening

With the weather taking a turn for the warmer (at last!), we find that we're spending a little more time outside, enjoying public spaces. Schuylkill River Park is one of the better ones in Center City, with a big dog park, basketball courts, tennis courts, a playground, and a connection to the Schuylkill River Trail. At 26th & Panama, across the street from the tennis courts, we recently came upon a project that's frozen in time- demolition has been done but construction hasn't started.

New place will offer waffles and wedges

One of the best things about living in a city, especially a walkable one like Philadelphia, is the easy access to local businesses. Wouldn't it be super annoying to have to get in the car (or the Uber, whatever) every time you needed to go to the cleaners, the bar, or Target? Ok, two out of three ain't bad.

Typically, when we tell you about new businesses, they're located on commercial corridors. In recent years, we've seen a ton of growth on South Street West, Frankford Avenue, and Baltimore Avenue to name a few, and those corridors are continuing to see new additions every few months or so. Nobody would mistake the 1500 block of Pine Street for a commercial corridor, but a spot that's long been a retail space is about to have a new tenant.

But a new movie theater seems unlikely

The beat goes on for the old Boyd Theater, a classic Art Deco gem that's sat vacant on the 1900 block of Chestnut Street for over a dozen years.

Last spring, the Historical Commission told developers they could demolish the inside of the historic building and replace it with an iPic, an eight-screen boutique movie theater. But like several others before it, that plan seems to have fallen apart. According to Inga Saffron, Pearl Properties bought the old theater last fall and iPic is likely out of the picture. Today, the building looks more or less like it has for many years.

View of the Boyd last year

Pearl's purchase of the property offers some definitively good news, and may result in a dramatic transformation to the block. The previous plan included the demolition of pretty much the entire Boyd building with the exception of the facade and a vestibule. More recent demolition plans still call for the elimination of the 2,400 seat theater, but would preserve the grand lobby and a rear portion of the main auditorium, according to the Preservation Alliance. Plan Philly has a quote from Howard Haas that confirms the importance of the lobby that's now being saved.

This one will have growlers too

In the last twenty years or so, there's been little change at the northwest corner of 22nd & South. L2 had quite a run, opening there in the late 1990s and closing their doors in the summer of 2013. Prior to that, Russian-themed vodka bar Cafe Republic came and went, and before that a Fifty's-style place called Linoleum made its home there. Last summer, a deal to bring a Stabucks to South Street West fell through, and the space has remained vacant ever since.

The other day, a post on the Southwest Center City Facebook Group caught our attention, as an eagle-eyed neighbor spotted a sign on the building suggesting change is in the air.

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