Last year, news broke that Post Brothers, the well-known and sometimes controversial development firm which owns various apartment buildings throughout the city, was heavily investing in the neighborhoods surrounding University City. They bought seven properties in the area and planned on substantial renovations for all of them, with Hamilton Court at 39th & Chestnut as one of the more significant acquisitions. This property was built in 1901, in the heyday of aristocratic West Philadelphia, as a luxurious apartment building amongst mostly older single family houses and mansions. The building is U-shaped and was set up to emphasize the inner courtyard which contained gardens and a fountain.

Gorgeous landscaping

As a result of a growing student population and physical campus of University of Pennsylvania, this property eventually turned into an building that almost exclusively houses Penn undergrads. Prior to the Post Brothers acquisition, the building was under the ownership of a company that only invested enough in the building to keep it habitable. We're using the term habitable pretty liberally, by the way. Thankfully, we've been told that interior renovations are currently underway. Here's what the building looks like now:

Current view

Most of the interior courtyard is now fenced off from the street

Last week, we attended a community meeting in Spruce Hill where the developers presented their plans for a new building in the courtyard as well as updates and new entrances for commercial spaces on the bottom floor of the existing building. You'd be forgiven for thinking that this building was exclusively residential because some of the commercial spaces of this complex haven't been used in years. From the looks of it, the developer's plans to add new entrances for these spaces seems like a great way to reactivate the bottom floor and pedestrian experience at this corner.

The new building proposed for the courtyard of Hamilton Court

A view from the opposite angle, notice the new entrances on the existing building

The architecture of the new building is obviously supposed to stick out as something brand new. The renderings show a spaceship-looking metal mesh which encases a glass-box interior structure. The developers said that the bottom floor of this building will be neighborhood retail and the second story will be a gym for residents. When asked why the developers wished to put a gym in this building when access to the Penn gym was guaranteed to all residents, the developer said that an in-house gym was still seen as a major amenity for prospective residents. The developer still has to get changes to this property approved though it seemed like members of the Spruce Hill Community Association were supportive. On the one hand, we're a little sad to see the courtyard of this building disappear, especially considering what it used to look like when the building was first built. Then again, it seems like Post Brothers have a great plan for the revitalization of the commercial aspects of this building, and we're excited to see how it turns out.