parking garage

Two big projects have an uncertain future

Cruising along Delaware Avenue away or towards Fishtown, you'll (likely) notice a construction crane splicing up into the sky next to the Sugarhouse Casino. Workers broke ground last summer and according to a Sugarhouse spokesperson, construction is proceeding as expected. Last week, we spied a new parking garage laying its shadow across the Delaware River. The $164M expansion, all to the north of the original structure, will more than double the square footage of the casino. A temporary poker room has been in operation for awhile, but a permanent one is coming once the construction is over.

Sugarhouse
Can see the parking structure from across the street

Directly across the street, Core Realty's plans for a mega entertainment complex where Frankford Avenue hits Delaware Ave. is progressing. The music venue aspect of the project, the Fillmore Philadelphia, has booked Hall & Oates for their grand opening celebration on October 1st. It looks like quite a bit needs to happen between now and then.

Plus major progress for building next door

Have you ever driven into town on the Ben Franklin Bridge and decided to take the 8th Street exit? If you've taken this route, you've probably noticed the horrendous parking garage that covers 8th Street between Arch and Filbert Streets.

In the past

It was over two years ago that we first told you that the PPA was starting renovations in the tunnel under the garage. And it was almost exactly two years ago that the PPA moved their offices there from West Philly- that was when we shared renderings for a renovation to the facade of the parking structure. But ever since then, we've not really given it much thought. Until yesterday, when we went to the PPA office to renew a parking permit. We discovered that change is afoot!

View from 8th Street doesn't really tell the story
Well this is something different

The garage renovation is far from finished. When all is said and done, it will (theoretically) look something like this:

But what will it be?

Over the weekend, we got a tip from a reader about 2028-34 Rittenhouse Sq., which is currently used as a parking garage.

The building

The three story building looks like it was once a warehouse of some kind, though we couldn't tell you exactly what it was originally built for. Over the past several years, as we mentioned, it's been used as a parking garage. But people who use this property to store their cars recently got notice that the garage is closing down at the end of the year.

Signs on the building
Closer look

The garage's closure is, according to signs in the window, due to an upcoming development at the property. But we don't know what's going on. Permits have been pulled for minor masonry work and the removal of an underground tank, but that's no indication of whether the building will be renovated to accommodate residential uses for example, or demolished and replaced with something new. Has anyone in the neighborhood heard about what's planned for this property?

Now a parking garage

The intersection of Broad and Wood Streets, just north of the Vine Street Expressway, has seen a tremendous amount of change over the course of two centuries.  As the neighborhood around North Broad Street has transformed, the building at the southwest corner of the intersection has shifted constantly to reflect this transformation.  Hexamer & Locher’s Philadelphia Atlas shows that the corner in question was occupied by a Commission & Storage Depot in 1858.

Commission & Storage Depot connected to adjacent Coal Yard, 1858

Just a few years later, Samuel L. Smedley’s 1862 Atlas shows that the Coal Yard had come to occupy this entire stretch of the industrially-focused Broad Street. 

Coal Yard, 1862

By 1875, the primary commodity stored at the corner had changed from coal to lumber.  The Lumber Yard is attributed to one R.H. Dobbins. 

Yesterday, we brought some optimism for the future of a moderately terrifying parking garage at 8th & Arch. Coincidentally, today we have some new information to pass along about a project that should soon rise on a long-vacant lot pretty much next door to this garage. Back in October, we told you about plans to build a nine-story building at 810 Arch St. with 112 apartments, along with offices, lounges, community rooms, an exercise room, and thirty-eight bike spaces. But that was all we knew about the project at the time.

The best twenty bucks we spend every year is on our residential parking permit. Annually, we've religiously trekked to the Philadelphia Parking Authority offices at 30th & Market to renew our permit, fulfilling the annual program of forgetting to send the renewal back in the mail in a timely fashion. This year, as the clock struck June, we once again found ourselves needing to visit the PPA, in an effort to avoid the dreaded ticket for overtime parking with an expired residential permit.

So off we went to those familiar PPA offices, license, registration, utility bill, and checkbook in hand, eager to get this thing over with for another year. Imagine our surprise when the person at the building's front desk told us that the PPA had moved out two weeks earlier, to a new customer service office on the other side of town! And then we remembered a post from last month, when we told you that a retail space underneath a dank garage on 8th Street between Arch and Filbert, was getting renovated. And we remembered that a couple of commenters suggested that the PPA customer service office would be moving there. And then we realized that we weren't going to make it across town before the office closed. And then we were sad.

A few days ago, we told you about a lovely garden on the 1700 block of Kater Street that almost forgives the monstrously ugly parking garage that sits in front of it. In response to that post, a reader shot us an email with some info about possible improvements on the horizon for said garage. Well, at least at for the corner of 17th & South.

As is the case in every city, parking is a concern in Philadelphia. With that in mind, we accept parking lots as a necessary evil, giving residents and visitors alike a place to put their vehicles while they're not behind the wheel. The lowest form of parking lot, in our estimation, is the surface lot, which takes only a limited number of cars off the road and only offers passersby a view of an ocean of cars at street level. Parking garages are certainly more efficient, though they are quite often architectural horrors, making little to no effort to fit in with their surroundings.

Ugh

Such is the case for the parking garage located at 1700 South Street, which is used primarily by employees and patients of Penn Medicine Rittenhouse, a facility that occupies several former Graduate Hospital buildings. No one would make the argument that this building is anything but ugly- but it does offer one unusual and unexpected feature that stands out as a redeeming quality. Directly behind the building is a block-long green space on the 1700 block of Kater Street.

If you've ever travelled over the Ben Franklin Bridge and headed through town via 8th Street, you've surely noticed the terrible PPA parking garage that "arches over" 8th Street between Arch and Filbert. Its miserable aesthetic comes off even worse when you consider what it replaced when it was built in the mid-1960s.

8th and Arch in 1959
Current view

Philaphilia tells us that the construction of this monstrosity was actually celebrated in its time, as it made it much easier for suburban shoppers to park when visiting the adjacent Strawbridge's or Lit Bros. department stores. Somehow, it looked a little less scary during the Johnson administration.

Last summer, we gave you the heads up that construction would soon be underway for the first part of Cira Centre South, a new tower on Chestnut Street. At the time, it was predicted that owners Brandywine Realty Trust would be breaking ground in the fall, a timeline that appears was off by only a couple of months. We were in the area the other day and snapped a couple of photos of the site.

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