It was only a few days ago that we issued our annual list of predictions, and as usual, we told you that construction would finally start on the northeast corner of Broad & Washington in the coming year. We’ve made this prediction several times, but we’ve sadly never been correct. We’ve had an eye on this property for over a decade (!), noting way back in 2011 that Dranoff Properties had designs on the parcel, after a proposal from Rimas Properties fell victim to the crash of 2008. By 2014, it was clear that Tower Development would be purchasing the property. Initial plans called for a 100% commercial project, and then plans shifted to a four-floor commercial platform with two residential towers. The public didn’t love those plans, and some small changes in 2016 didn’t rally much support either.

By the summer of 2020, the plans changed some more. The towers shrank considerably, from 34-stories down to a maximum height of 15 stories. With the apartments buildings getting squatter, the footprints were spread out to cover most of the site, increasing the unit count to around 1,100. The retail platform was eliminated, putting all of the project’s commercial space at ground level, and the parking was reduced to about 400 spots. And as has been rumored since Dranoff was looking at the property, Tower has indicated that a Giant supermarket will be the lead tenant, with a few other commercial spaces yet to be officially filled. Here are some renderings, with credit to BKV Group for the design work.

Massing of the plan
Rendering from the corner
Rendering as seen from the east

In the last couple days, a reader reached out to us to let us know that it looked like construction was maybe, possibly getting started at the site. We passed by earlier today and were positively tickled to see that the chain-link fence around the site is now covered in tarp. Even more encouraging, there’s a sign posted to the fence indicating that work is now in progress, and a few pieces of heavy equipment are lumbering around the site. While we don’t quite see a hole in the ground just yet, this is a pretty strong indication that this project is finally, thankfully, amazingly, getting started.

View of the corner
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A very good sign indeed
Some heavy equipment on the site!

To say that we’re excited about this development is a massive and hilarious understatement. We’ve been writing about this property for over a decade, and have been thinking about it for even longer. This parcel represents one of the largest and most prominent vacant lots in greater Center City, and frankly, the fact that it has continued to sit empty for all these years is an embarrassment for our fair city. And don’t forget, the lot across the street was similarly vacant until the construction of Lincoln Square a couple years back. In short order, this intersection will go from a pair of huge vacant lots to a pair of sizable apartment buildings anchored by supermarkets. Oh, and don’t forget there’s one more piece to the puzzle, the still vacant lot on the northeast corner of 13th & Washington.

Sister building at 13th & Washington

A reminder, this building will add another 375 apartments to the mix, plus some office space and retail. Like its neighbor at Broad & Washington, this project pulled building permits before the end of 2021, and given that the same development team is responsible for both projects, we wonder whether they’ll be built all at once or phased over the next few years. However the timing works, we’re just delighted to see honest to goodness real life progress at this site, and we look forward to seeing construction start in earnest.