For many years, the former YWCA Annex building sat vacant and blighted at 2021 Chestnut St., begging for redevelopment or demolition. Finally, it came down earlier this year. A few months back, groundbreaking took place for its replacement, AQ Rittenhouse. Passing by last week, we saw active work on the site, with plenty of steel already in place.
Developed by Aquinas Realty Partners, the builing will join the parade of new construction apartment buildings in this area. When it's done, there will be 110 apartments, each of which will enjoy their own Juliet balcony. The range of amenities we've come to expect from buildings like this will be offered as well, along with perhaps too-easy access to the Ranstead Room. The building will also have first-floor retail space, though we haven't heard about any tenants yet. As we've mentioned in the past, design work was done by BLT Architects and Stampfl.
With skyrocketing prices for new construction homes in Center City, it comes as no surprise when we hear about surface parking lot owners looking to cash out and developers looking to help them. So when a reader gave us the heads up about plans for residential development at the corner of 22nd & Lombard, we were far from shocked.
Now a parking lot
A hundred years ago, there were four buildings here, and we'd wager that at least one of them had some kind of storefront. Today, the other three corners of the intersection are all commercial, with a 7-11 on the southeast corner, Doobies on the northwest corner, and Pure Design on the southwest corner. The parcels that compose the parking lot are also zoned commercial.
Last year, when the AAA Building turned into 2040 Market Street, one of Center City's largest and fanciest Fine Wine & Good Spirits shops opened in the building. The opening of that store resulted in the shuttering of the large and popular liquor store at 1911 Chestnut St., which kind of looked worse for the wear by the time it closed. Something felt right about this large storefront sitting empty for months, as it sits across the street from the old Boyd Theater, which hasn't been in use for over a decade. But as the Boyd is coming back to life, so too is the old liquor store space.
It seems we've been waiting for the redevelopment of the northwest corner of 17th & South forever. It was almost three years ago that we first broke the news that a four story mixed-use building would be replacing a vacant lot at this site. Then there was a whole lot of nothing while the developer, ZBA approval in hand, dealt with neighbors who were appealing the zoning variance. Finally, earlier this year, construction got underway. But for the last couple of months, construction has been halted, prompting several readers to reach out to us for the scoop.
And we're sorry to say, we don't know what's up here. While our parent company was the broker on the project a few years back, it's no longer involved. Any ideas on the reasons for the stalled construction are speculation- it could be financial issues, legal matters, or simply a matter of bandwith for the developer. Or something else, we just don't know. Whatever the reason, the site looks pretty awful right now, with graffitti covering the fences around the new building. Though we will say, it looks better than it did several weeks ago, when the fences were on the ground and the site was open to anybody walking by.
In case you don't remember, this will eventually be nine residential units and a 7-11 on the first floor. That is, assuming the lease agreement accounts for a looong turnaround until the space is ready. Is it bad that we're hoping it doesn't?