Center City is set to lose another low rise parking garage, and this time it’s the unexciting two-story structure at 123 S. 12th St. that’s on the outs. This isn’t the first time we’re bringing this building to your attention though – remember about two and a half years ago, we told you that Brickstone Companies had purchased this property and were considering their options to add to their portfolio of Market East projects. At that time, they were kicking around a variety of ideas, including residential, office, hotel, and retail uses over two high rise buildings. We snapped a photo of the property at that time, and you’ll have to trust us that the building is still there today, and still being dramatically underused as a low rise parking garage.

Photo from a couple years ago. Building still looks largely the same

As several sources have reported over the last couple months, Brickstone has made their decision about the property, and they went in a direction that we wouldn’t have predicted. The project will entail a 24-story senior housing building, operated by Benchmark, and age restricted to a population 62 years old and up. The building will include 240 apartments and resident amenities, along with 60 units that include assisted living services. There will also be 84 underground parking spaces and ground-floor retail in the building. The project still needs to go through Civic Design Review, but it’s otherwise completely by-right. Speaking of Civic Design Review, the project packet included a bunch of renderings from Perkins Eastman, which we’ve included below:

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Project rendering
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Aerial view shows the massing
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View on 12th Street
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Masonry will go way up
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Metal cladding too, of course

We said we didn’t expect a senior housing tower here, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wholly appropriate. Senior communities are a rapidly growing fixture in suburban communities, but just as many Millennials prefer the urban to the suburban environment, the same is true of Baby Boomers. This building will be centrally located such that numerous stores and restaurants will be walkable for its residents as well as various public transportation routes, which makes the address even more appealing. We have to think that the close proximity to Jefferson will surely be a selling point as well.

Mural to the south won't be impacted

One might think that the construction of this building would mean the end of the line for the Beasley Building mural, which has brightened this block since 1997. Fortunately, this building won’t impact this mural, as the small surface parking lot next door at 131 S. 12th St. won’t be affected by the project. Unfortunately, there will still be a small surface parking lot at 131 S. 12th St., and we’ve communicated our feelings about surface parking lots repeatedly over the years. While we’d be bummed to see this mural covered up at some point in the near or distant future, we’d also be cheered to see a new building appear in place of the surface lot. We haven’t heard any plans to sell or redevelop this parcel though, so public art fans can breathe a sign of relief, at least for the moment.