Big New Building Coming Near the Eastern Edge of Penn and Drexel

The city block encircled by Walnut Street, 30th Street, Chestnut Street, and 31st Street is one of the more unusual blocks in town, despite its prominent West Philly location. Thanks to the nearby Schuylkill River crossings, Walnut and Chestnut Street slope up, creating an upper level that you’ve surely traveled any number of times, but also a lower level that is somewhat hidden and would be an ideal set piece for car chase scene in a movie.

It’s on this block that you would find 119 S. 31st St., a 30,000 sqft parcel that sits in between a huge post office and a laboratory building, and sits two doors down from World Cafe Live. Horizon House, a mental health and housing services non-profit, has operated out of a building at this location for a number of years. And while we believe that this organization does amazing and important work, we also would argue that this site has been underused for a number of years, given its location so close to Penn and Drexel and just a couple blocks from 30th Street Station.

Current view

Cue the development music, as Horizon House has moved to a new office space and this property is going to Civic Design Review next month. The proposal would demolish the little building that’s currently on the site and replace it with a nineteen-story apartment building called the Standard at Philadelphia. The building will have a total of 280 units, with 98 of the units being one-bedrooms or studios and the rest being two-plus bedroom units. There will also be 37 parking spaces, accessed from Lower 30th Street. Here are some renderings, from Cube3.

Rendering on 31st Street
From further back, 31st Street side
30th Street perspective
Aerial rendering
Another angle

While the building will tower over its immediate neighbors, it feels like an incredibly appropriate project for this location. First, we have to think it will target the student populations from the nearby universities, probably with a healthy mix of grad students mixed in with undergrads. Architecturally, we like that it’s quite tall but still several floors smaller than the nearby Evo and FMC buildings. The site can certainly accommodate the tower, but we like that the height is stepping down as we head west from the river, scaling down to the heights more typically seen on these college campuses. And while this building will still be one of a few high rises over here in the near future, once the Schuylkill Yards project moves into high gear, this will be once of many such buildings over here, adding to the growing West Philadelphia skyline. It’s crazy to think that such a term would have been unthinkable as recently as twenty years ago.

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