In the past, major projects in Center City have often been announced only to wither away, but in the past couple of years Center City has realized its share of redevelopment. For example, 1900 Arch is currently rising, replacing a surface parking lot. Across the street, the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center will likely get underway sometime this year. Another example is 2040 Market, which underwent renovations last year that added new stories to increase the building's height as well created some ground-floor retail opportunities. But 1919 Market is an example of a site that is still sitting, waiting for something to happen despite announced plans.
So too was the case for 2401 Walnut St. once upon a time. In 2008, plans were approved for construction to begin on Mandeville Place, a 41-story tower that would rise from Samson Street and incorporate The Rosenbluth Building. But that proposal died around the time the real estate bubble burst. The project was perhaps over ambitious and envisioned a plan with luxury units that each occupied an entire floor. Those plans stretched as far back as 2004.
Fortunately, in 2011, 2401 Walnut St. was renovated via a $10.5M investment. The renovations gutted a 160K sqft office building and converted it into a more industrial space with sustainable elements, including installing a green roof with a 17,500 gallon cistern. Linked above, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported the conversion was aimed at attracting younger businesses.
And that it did. The site is now the location of CityCoHo, a co-working space dedicated to promoting sustainability through its various partnerships as well as through the Sustainability Nexus. Launched last September and run by young entrepreneurs, CoHo is poised to be a pillar of sustainability in Philadelphia.
“We're trying to harness some of that fragmented energy,” said Drew Foulkes, co-founder, referring to the hundreds of thousands of sustainability-oriented business in the world. That starts with creating a location in Philly. The space is like a design charrette daily at work. At best, it will feature professionals from various disciplines collaborating on projects.
CoHo offers an open space arrangement with great amenities at low prices (from $100 – $500 a month). CoHo is still young, its first tenant was Delaware Valley Green Building Council, and the building also hosts startups like LifeVest Health, Ticketleap, and Wharton's summer startup incubator. Its people are also trying to receive LEED Platinum certification.
So while we mourn the Mandeville Place that never was, we’re at least pleased to find that some good came to this building in the end. Hopefully, the businesses inside will bring more positive energy to the building and the city as a whole moving forward.