The construction at 1101 Chestnut St., taking up the whole northern side of the block between 11th & 12th Streets, has made the area a bit of a challenge to navigate for years, as the Jefferson University-affiliated Honickman Center took the place of a less than beautiful parking garage. We had flashbacks of the closed-off sidewalks around the W/Element hotel just a few blocks away every time we made our way around the edges of the site. But much to our joy (and to the safety of pedestrians in the vicinity), the sidewalks are reopened around this Ennead-designed building.

A rendering of the Honickman Center
The newly opened sidewalk on the north side of Chestnut, looking west from 11th St.
Looking east down Chesnut St. from 12th, no longer one lane

Originally slated to be a two-tower, final phase of National Real Estate Development‘s transformational East Market development, this project has been scaled back for the moment. A residential tower from Morris Adjmi Architects was pegged for the western portion of the site, though those plans were put on hold. We could see that tower rise at some point in the future, maybe when interest rates tick downwards again.

The original two-tower plans, with the shorter residential tower put on hold

While we were initially upset about the uncertain future for the residential portion, the interim result is actually pretty darn good. After the construction of the underground parking that covers the entire block (and the foundation for a future tower), the western portion of the site is now a landscaped pedestrian plaza, with hardscaping, seating areas, and plenty of greenery. We weren’t sure how this plaza would read in person, but we are excited to say that it already feels like a nice little escape in a part of the city that doesn’t have much plant life. The ample sitting spaces and contemporary planting approach contrasts nicely with the stately architecture that surrounds the property. The addition of murals helps activate the space, which has parking access along the tiny Clover St. to the north.

The Honickman Center, with the landscaped plaza as viewed from 12th & Chestnut
Another view of the plaza shows off the incredible architecture in every direction
A look at one of the on-site murals
Looking east down Clover St. at the parking access.

If we can’t get something that’s the highest-and-best use right off the bat, this interim solution most definitely adds to the vibe of the area. With the gorgeous Canopy Hotel right next door in the wonderful Stephen Girard Building, this pocket certainly benefits from the added public space. But there’s still room to grow. Target, which arrived with plenty of fanfare several years back, is now closed across the street, so perhaps the new open space will impress a potential tenant for this sizable retail space. Hopefully the former Target and some of the other surrounding commercial spaces will fill in soon, as this new public square makes its presence felt in the reimagined Market East.

The boarded-up Target across Chestnut offers a renewed opportunity