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.
For at least the last decade, the streetscape of the north side of the 1200 block of Walnut Street was interrupted by a surface parking lot which stretched all the way to Sansom Street and wrapped around the fabulous Fergie's Pub. Several years ago, developers came up with a plan to redevelop this parcel into a thirty-story building with a combination of apartments and a hotel. But then the bottom fell out on the real estate market in 2008, scuttling that plan and many others around town.
Several months ago, we told you about ongoing construction at the corner of 17th & Carpenter, work that represented the first phase of Carpenter Green. This green space has been in the works for quite some time, and we first told you about the plans back in the spring of 2013. Last month, the first phase wrapped up, meaning the property has effectively been plumbed, wired, and graded. These days, it looks a bit like the Shire.
A recent image of the property
With the first phase of the project now finished, efforts are underway for Phase Two. While the first phase involved a bunch of underground work that will make the park possible, the second phase will entail the actual construction of Carpenter Green. SOSNA is working hard to raise the funds to make this thing happen, with a goal to raise $120,000 from the community. Oh, and the Goldenberg Group has pledged a $50K matching grant for this project.
Yet another long-planned project is coming to fruition, this time at 1213 Walnut St., the long planned "Fergie Tower." Back in 2008, before the bottom fell out on the real estate market, there was a plan for a thirty story building here, a combination of a rental apartment building and a hotel. If you've visited the wonderful Fergie's Pub at any point in the last seven years, you probably noticed that no such thing has happened and that a large surface parking lot has remained. But if you've visited over the last few weeks, you've probably noticed that things have changed.
It's been quite a roller coaster year for the Saint Rita of Cascia Shrine. In January, we told you about the demolition of the former Saint Rita's school at Broad & Ellsworth. This was notable not only because a large building was being demolished, but also because it was a clear nail in the coffin for the building's reuse. For several years prior, the shrine had plans to build a small addition onto the old school and convert the building into the Cascia Center, a place for "healing, reflection, and assistance for all people."
Earlier this year, a new plan emerged that would have entailed the construction of a one-story building on the corner of Broad & Ellsworth, with a surface parking lot in the rear. We were, to say the least, unimpressed.
For years, the 1000 block of S. 17th Street was objectively terrifying. Blighted, empty, collapsing buildings mixed with overgrown vacant lots created a mise en scene reminiscent of a horror movie. When the City thankfully condemned the homes on the block and tore them down, it was surely a relief to neighbors and reduced nightmares in the area by approximately eight percent. Over two years ago, when the eastern side of this block was a much more innocuous grassy field, developers first presented SOSNA with their plan for Carpenter Square.
In the past
A year ago, the first phase of the project broke ground, seeing the construction of eleven new town homes with some of the most unique architecture in the neighborhood. Not only do the homes look different, but they're also LEED certified and have two-car parking in the rear. When we first told you about the project, the 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom homes were expected to sell in the mid-to-high $500K range. Incredibly, they're now listed for just under $700K. Four homes have sold to date and interest has been strong in other homes in the development.
Today, members of Mayor Nutter's administration gave their opinions to the PA Gaming Control Board on the six proposals currently under consideration for Philadelphia's second casino license. If you'd like a rundown of all of the groups vying for this lucrative license, check out this excellent summary from today's Daily News. But for now, we have some new information on the MARKET8 proposal, along with the sparkly new rendering that showed up in our inbox yesterday.
For those unfamiliar with the recent history of the surface parking lot on 8th & Market, here's a brief summary. Over thirty years ago, the old Gimbel's building was demolished after the company moved across the street to the then-new-and-fancy Gallery Mall. Several possible projects came and went for this site over the years, with the most famous being an indoor amusement park called DisneyQuest, proposed around the year 2000. A giant hole was dug at the site in preparation for this attraction, but it was never built. The hole remained here for several years, until it was mercifully filled in to become a surface parking lot. Never would have thought we'd like a surface lot better than anything but rest assured it's an improvement over the hole.
Over six months ago, when we last checked in on the former site of the Wanamaker School at 11th & Cecil B. Moore, groundbreaking had recently taken place for a large new student housing development. We were in the vicinity the other day, and were kind of floored with the progress that's taken place in the time since. A couple of weeks ago, according to a press release, the fourteen story building was topped off, signaling an important milestone in the construction process.