2014 was a big year for real estate in Philadelphia. And if we may pat ourselves on the back for a moment, we were able to predict some of the major moves well before they happened. And if we may kick ourselves in the rear end at the same time, we confess we were off base on some of our projections. Hey, don't forget, batting .300 gets you in the Hall of Fame. Unless you used PEDs, of course.
First, let's sing our own praises.
Last year, we told you that plans would finally emerge for at least one of the long-vacant corners at Broad & Washington. A few months into the year, we heard about an all-commercial plan for the northeast corner from Tower Investments. By the time November rolled around, those plans evolved into a mixed-use project, incorporating space for large retailers with two residential towers. Quite a bit of wrangling remains, we'd guess, but we're optimistic that this project will move forward and will at least somewhat resemble the drawing below:
Speaking of major projects, Liberty Square is moving forward in South Kensington. This one really came down to the wire, as demolition and site work only got moving last month. Though there's still the lion's share of work to do, the project will eventually bring almost 250 apartments and some new retail to South Kensington in a Piazza-like project, and hopefully inspire the construction of the Soko Lofts just around the corner. That this project is moving forward speaks to the increased desirability of the neighborhood, as Northern Liberties and Fishtown have become more saturated.
One more prediction that we nailed, if we may continue to feel good about ourselves for just a moment, is that development in Francisville, Point Breeze, and East Kensington has continued with aplomb. Vacant land is still available in those neighborhoods, but it's gotten more and more expensive. So it goes.
The Phillies, for the record, did indeed finish in last place. A mere 23 games back!
Okay, now we're going to turn on ourselves. Here's what we got wrong:
We said that the Divine Lorraine would continue to languish and remain a white elephant on North Broad Street. We're pleased to say that we were off base, and the building is now under construction. Much of the graffiti has been removed, and a sweet rendering of the future has emerged. Finally, after all of these years, it's amazing to see that this building is finally coming back to life. We're not even mad that we were wrong.
Another swing and miss related to the choice for Philadelphia's second casino location. We wagered that the PA Gaming Control Board would pick the Provence at Broad & Callowhill. Instead, they opted for Live! Hotel and Casino, a South Philly location at 10th & Packer. We went to a community meeting in anticipation of this choice and saw that at least hundreds of near neighbors are incensed about it. It's hard to say what direction this will take, as several additional parties have already appealed the decision.
There are a couple of other predictions gone wrong on our part. Notably, we thought that Ridge Avenue would finally take a major turn for the better. And while it saw some additional construction activity, it may yet be a couple of years away. We shall see. Also, a City Hall condo conversion hasn't happened. Maybe someday.
Finally, we predicted that the Eagles would surprise people in the playoffs in 2014. They surprised us by bowing out to the Saints. And then they surprised us even more this year by missing the playoffs altogether. But now it's a new year, full of optimism and opportunity! Here's hoping for good stuff for Philadelphia in both real estate and sports in the year to come.
Hey, 'Nova might just make some noise this March…