It was barely a week ago that we were on the 1800 block of Chestnut St. in the heart of Rittenhouse to visit a building near Boyds that was sadly slated for demolition. We didn’t know much about what was to come at the time, save for the fact that there was no recent public transaction for this property owned by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in advance of this zoning permit for demo. Since then, however, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported that there may be a potential buyer for the property at 1812-14 Chestnut St., a handsome two-story building that had plenty of architectural character.

1812-14Chestnut-01 New
A look at the facade of 1812-14 Chestnut St., with an uncertain future

That PBJ article references the next-door neighbor at 1816 Chestnut St., yet another non-protected building in the historic district that is also owned by the PFT. Thanks to the handy-dandy daily zoning report, we see that a zoning notice was issued for the complete demolition of this building as well.

1812-14 Chestnut on the left, with 1816 Chestnut on the right
A closer look at the street level design and union insignia

This building doesn’t have quite as much architectural heft as its neighbor, but it will still leave a sizable gap in the historic feeling along this stretch. And when these buildings do come down, we hope that it is not a situation where the land sits empty for years, a fenced off reminder of the past.

But we’ve had enough doom and gloom lately, so let’s turn that frown upside down: we’re putting on our rosiest-colored shades to imagine the future here. Let’s assume that these properties – which were being marketed together – are being sold and demolished in tandem. Assuming a developer goes through zoning and combines the properties into one parcel, this would yield a rectangular, nearly 18K sqft lot. With its CMX-5 zoning, that means that something seriously sizable could rise here, joining a host of other projects that are either just starting or could be starting soon. So yeah, let’s expect the best for once and envision a stately, refined tower rising amongst these other Rittenhouse giants, further adding to the hustle and bustle of one of the city’s densest neighborhoods.