Legal Battle Leads To A New, Greener Design For Manayunk Historical Building


Seven years ago Alon Barzilay looked out of the window at Bourbon Blue onto the 1860’s building across the street and called his friend David Waxman. The 3 Rector Street building had everything to make an unbeatable residential project: a great location, perfect neighborhood, waterfront lot, cobblestone street and access to the Tow Path and two train stations. Three years later Waxman tried to make a five-story residential complex out of the historical former Labov Plumbing Supply structure but the year-long legal battle that ensued (coupled with the collapsed market) was enough to make Waxman and Barzilay pause and rethink things. By the time the legal commotion about Rector Street had died down, Waxman had a fresh perspective for the 11,000-square-feet of stone and new plans.

Their initial thought to tear down the structure was met with opposition from the Philadelphia Historical Commission and Kevin Smith (who originally suggested the idea), so the second time around, Barzilay and Waxman kept it simple. “We wanted to use what was already here, and make this an alternative Class A space by simplifying our plans,” explains Waxman.

Construction has started on the environmentally friendly (and historically friendly) project for the bi-level structure and JKR Partners are at work with the eco-design plans that include Greenlife Energy Solutions spray foam (very high insulation value, lower utility costs for the tenants) and Seaquay low-E and operable historic wood windows. Barzilay is busy getting historic preservation tax credits and an EngeryWorks loan, and Waxman is looking for tenants to join BRR Architects, who have signed a lease for 25 percent of the space already and move in at the end of the month. Rector Street Associates has 7,500 square feet left to lease and Waxman tell us they “are targeting design, creative, technology type companies that would be attracted to the openness of the space, high ceilings and exposed trusses.” Resealed oak trusses, original steel doors (made to contain stored dynamite), 20-foot ceilings and 105 replaced joists give the massive, naturally lit waterfront building the character most office spaces are missing.

This is Wazman’s only project with Barzilay, the CEO of Vintage Brownstones and High Rises who owns and renovated a handful of Rittenhouse brownstones as well as the high-rise Apts 257, and who is developing a boutique hotel on 1300 block of Chestnut.