We were so excited a couple weeks back when we shared renderings of Southern Land Company's latest proposal for 1911 Walnut Street, a plan that would transform a long-vacant lot that sits across the street from Rittenhouse Square. At the end of last week, the developers sent out a press release that provided some additional details about the project and included some updated renderings. As was the case before, Solomon Cordwell Buenz did the design work.
With the caveat that everything is still subject to change, the building will rise about 600' and will include 342 rental apartments, 64 condos, 55K sqft of retail space, and underground parking. The mix of rental units and condos is an interesting play, one that will allow owners and renters to take advantage of what we imagine will be a host of building amenities. And from a financing standpoint, a small condo component in a rental building seems like a safer bet than a huge condo building. The track record for large, new construction condo buildings has been poor in this town.
As we said, the project isn't yet finalized so several things could change between now and when construction begins. The biggest conversation with the community might involve three older buildings on Sansom Street which have been sitting empty for years. You can see in the Sansom Street rendering that the project would retain the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop building but it would mean demolition for a former funeral home and the Warwick, an old apartment building.
We can imagine that many in the neighborhood will want to see these old structures preserved, and we'd strongly doubt that the feasibility of the project hinges on their demolition. Considering that this block has already lost (most of) the Boyd auditorium, it would be a shame for it to lose any more history. That being said, and with understanding that we're not architects, historians, preservationists, etc, we never thought that either of these buildings were so special in the first place and wouldn't be heartbroken if they came down. Please, more educated people out there, feel free to chime in and explain to us what we're missing.