Every now and again, a large piece of prime real estate becomes available in Center City, and all the big developers surely take notice. Such is surely the case with 500-510 S. Broad St., the 40K sqft parcel that’s been home to Health Center No. 1 for the last few decades. Earlier today, we received an email informing us about a recently released RFQ from the PIDC, seeking parties interested in purchasing and redeveloping this significant parcel on Avenue of the Arts.
According to the terms of the RFQ, the Health Center will be relocating to a new location by the end of next year. And while adaptive reuse could certainly be considered as part of a proposal from a potential developer, we have a sense that just about every proposal will call for the demolition of this funky midcentury building. And while we’d be sad to see it go, let’s agree that a three story building isn’t exactly the highest and best use for the corner of Broad & Lombard. We should note, the RFQ mentions the possibility of reuse, but doesn’t indicate that such proposals will be met with more favor than those proposing demolition.
As for the RFQ itself, it suggests that PIDC is looking for a project that is “in accordance with existing zoning and include[s] a mixture of uses which creates a unique and exciting destination along the Avenue of the Arts and spurs additional development in the surrounding neighborhood.” A preferred project will have activity on the ground floor with retail or restaurant use, and residential, hotel, or commercial on the upper levels of the building. Also, the City wants the project to meet or exceed LEED Silver standards.
Interested developers must submit their packet to PIDC by September 22nd in order to be considered for this project, along with a check for $25K. The packet must include preliminary plans for the site, details of developer experience for similarly sized projects, evidence of financial capability, and an offer price for the property. In terms of selecting the developer for this property though, this is only the first phase. After the RFQ process concludes, PIDC will create a short list of potential developers of the site, who will then need to go through an RFP process which will ultimately determine the winner. Look for this to get figured out by the end of the year.
Obviously, this property would be attractive to many developers and we imagine PIDC will get numerous responses to their RFQ. If we had to wager on which developer will ultimately win the property though, we’d bet on the Goldenberg Group. Remember, this developer bought the building immediately to the south just last year, and with the WCC School now closed the building has an uncertain future. The WCC site covers about 30K sqft, and if it were combined with the Health Center site (and possibly the surface parking lot at 15th & South), it would create an opportunity for a massive redevelopment site that covers 3/4 of a city block. Even with just the WCC site and the Health Center, we’d be looking at a site with roughly half the footprint of Lincoln Square on Washington Avenue, and an opportunity for a project that could be truly transformative for the corridor.
There’s a long process ahead, but we hope that PIDC ultimately selects Goldenberg as the developer (assuming they submit a bid). With a larger footprint to work with, we’d think that the odds of preserving the existing Health Center building would rise ever so slightly. It sure would be a treat to see this parcel redeveloped with the existing facade maintained in some fashion.