Though recent years have brought unprecedented growth and redevelopment to the neighborhoods surrounding Center City, some persistent vacancy remains. The biggest and best example sits at Broad & Washington, where two enormous parcels stare each other down on a daily basis, wondering which will be the first to make a move. Last fall, it seemed like the northeast corner would finally get redeveloped, with plans from Tower Investments for 1000-1600 apartments and gobs of retail. It's quite likely that this project is still moving forward even though we haven't heard much about it of late- big ticket development like this can take quite awhile to get off the ground.
A recently posted listing on Loopnet for a project called Lincoln Square gives us an indication that planning for the northwest corner is happening as well. We've heard rumblings in recent months that Toll Brothers was working on something for this parcel, and the listing provides definitive evidence that someone is cooking something up here.
According to the listing, the project will contain 310 apartment units and over 70K sqft of retail space, already listed for lease by Metro Commercial. The site plan suggests that the retail will be spread over eight different spaces of varying sizes. The site plan also indicates that the historic Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Freight Shed will be incorporated as part of the project. According to public record, the majority of the block is owned by a City agency, but the train shed is privately owned. So the developers have ostensibly come up with an agreement for that parcel, which was last listed for sale in 2007 for $4.7M.
Sure, it's just a massing and we don't have a clue how the project will ultimately look, but the images above still provide some insight into what the developers are thinking. First, it's encouraging to see a bunch of retail, and if indeed Toll Brothers is the developer, we're pleased to see that their business model in Philadelphia has changed. Looking at the height, it looks like it would rise nine stories at its highest, which would make it the tallest building in the area, not including the planned towers across the street. And perhaps we're being greedy, but we wonder whether this building should be even taller. Certainly, with what looks like multiple parking levels in the middle of the development, it looks like parking will be plentiful. We get it, but half a block from a subway station, it bums us out a bit.
It seems likely that Lincoln Square will go through several changes as it winds its way through the community process. Surely SOSNA and near neighbors will have plenty to say about the project. But oh, can you imagine if this thing, in some form, finally happens? And if the property across the street gets redeveloped as well? Everything else we've covered on Washington Avenue is small potatoes compared to these two lots- one of these two projects moving forward would be huge, for both to coalesce would be game changing.
What do you think about Lincoln Square? And do you think that this is the project that will finally rise at Broad & Washington after so many years?