Among Philadelphia development enthusiasts such as ourselves, the empty lots of Center City, which are often used for surface parking, are notorious and well-known. Most of us walk by them frequently shaking our heads at the sight of their untapped potential. So it's with great joy and exuberance that we report that one of the most central of these parcels could soon be redeveloped into a large office tower. 1301 Market St., now a tidy and incredibly centrally located parking lot, is reportedly under contract to be bought by Oliver Tyrone Pulver, a firm known these days for its development of office space in Conshohocken. The parcel has been owned by real estate investor Samuel Rappaport since the 1970s. Take a look at what the lot looked like back in 1960, thanks to the magic of Phillyhistory.

Great old buildings

There's no clear online evidence of how these buildings met their end but we've heard that Rappaport tore them down to make the property "more marketable for redevelopment" in the 1990s. If that's the case, it's indeed a shame because these buildings would probably be celebrated historic structures if they still existed today. That said, we can't live in the past and we're glad the property is finally being considered for redevelopment.

Same angle as above

Mural would be lost if the development happens

Instead of a brick fence, imagine a glass facade with retail

The proposed tower would be 38 stories tall and would include office, retail, and tenant amenities, totaling 840K sqft. The architects, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, are internationally known for their futuristic skyscraper designs for cities around the world and it would be pretty cool to have a building designed by them in Philadelphia.

The glass facade and Market Street frontage, from

The full building, from

Unlike so many other developments happening around Center City, this building does not currently have a residential component which is perhaps something of a surprise. Furthermore, the developers will be supposedly relying on top-market “trophy” class office rates to be able to make this building financially feasible, but have not signed any anchor tenants just yet. Still, they have time as construction can't feasibly start for at least a year as they wind through the permitting process.

Having read all of those details, it seems to us that this parcel is in the very early and temperamental part of any kind of actual development. We would not be surprised if the size, usage, and even ownership of the building changed by the time anything is actually built on this piece of land. But cheers to a new start in this bustling part of the city. If all goes according to the developers' plan, we'll see a new building completed here by 2020. And as we (mercifully) approach the end of 2016, 2020 doesn't really feel terribly far away.

Edit: A reader was kind enough to point out that Skidmore, Owi​ngs & Merrill designed the PNC Bank building at 16th & Market, so Philadelphia already has one from these architects. And we wouldn't be sad to have another!