Rittenhouse

Homes and condos and Cake Boss

In the core Center City neighborhoods, it's intuitive that we don't see the same development activity that we see in neighborhoods like Brewerytown, Francisville, and Kensington. So when there are three projects to mention on a single block in the Rittenhouse neighborhood, it's quite an unexpected treat. But that's just what we're considering today on the 2100 block of Walnut Street. Let's move west to east, shall we?

Walnut Estates, coming soon at 22nd & Walnut

The southeast corner of 22nd & Walnut was, for many years, a surface parking lot. Last fall, we told you about plans to redevelop the parcel, first expecting six new homes then learning about plans for five homes and a mixed-use building on the corner. In the time that's passed, the parking lot has been closed (another one bites the dust!), and a hole has appeared at the site. The developers have dubbed the project Walnut Estates, and the project website shows impressive floorplans for the five homes. Each will have an elevator, 5,000 sqft of living space, and an appropriately high price tag. The taller building at the corner will have condos and a commercial space downstairs.

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.

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