About a month ago, we brought the historic building at 230 N. 13th St. to your attention, noting that it was available for sale. We shared some of its history, as NFL Films used the building as its inaugural offices, and Big Brothers Big Sisters was headquartered here for decades until a recent move to Texas. We predicted a mid-rise building would eventually land here, either replacing or incorporating the Art Moderne-style structure designed by William Harold Lee. Man, does it feel good when we're right.
In an article in today's Inquirer, Inga Saffron shares that the building has been purchased, something that was surely already a done deal well before we posted about it (you snooze you lose). Baywood Hotels is buying the property, and has plans to build a nine-story tower on top of the existing building. They received preliminary support last month from the Historical Commission, though the Commission's architecture committee had several problems with the design. Ms. Saffron suggests that the architects on the project, Spg3, have not been very ambitious, and the addition emulates the PSFS tower several blocks away. The materials on the facade, mostly composite panels, may not jive well with the historic platform upon which it will sit.
The design of the project may still change some in the coming week, in anticipation of a return to the Historical Commission. It's our hope that the developers make some further changes to more appropriately address the historic building they're building on top of. At the same time, even if they don't, we're pleased to see that Center City is getting a new hotel and it isn't coming at the expense of one of its more unique buildings.
Be that as it may, we're still wishing Big Brothers Big Sisters never moved away. Such a shame for our city to lose an organization like that, especially to Dallas.