Society Hill is an area of the city that has remained remarkably stubborn in the face of the recent wave of development that has taken to just about every corner of the city. A lack of large development parcels combined with a push to limit height has led to few projects at the scale we’re seeing in most neighborhoods in or near Center City. However, one notable exception is getting close to its apex at 1 Dock Street, where a modern tower is taking its place along the Belgian block boulevard.
We last were by this site in 2018, when the Buccini/Pollin Group had purchased what was then the Society Hill Sheraton, with eyes to fix up the hotel and add a 31-floor residential addition to the vacant southern end of the site. But as you know in this crazy world of real estate, things can change greatly in the span of four years. Since then, the property changed hands yet again, with LCOR purchasing the site back in 2020. After several rounds of pushback, vetoed bills, and court dates thanks to major pushback by some near neighbors for what was supposedly a by-right project, approvals were finally OK’ed for a new apartment tower, featuring 272 rental units for this purely residential addition. As you can see, the design from BLTa called for a glassy, contemporary tower rising nearly 400′ against the existing four-story hotel (which, by the way, is now the remodeled Marriott Old City).
But as we said, quite a bit can happen over four years, and things are looking wildly different here now. This building is quickly reaching full height, joining the iconic, I.M. Pei-designed Society Hill Towers, creating a new vibe for this skyscraper cluster on the eastern side of the city. The building already forms an impressive presence as one approaches it from the Delaware River Trail.
The main structure is nearing the top, with the final setback looking close to starting. The ground-level is still very much a construction site, though the upper floors are looking sharp, with glass creeping up near the halfway point. While not a wild massing in any regard, the slight angle of the western facade gives the structure much more interest than the rectangular volume might initially suggest from afar. The top portion of the building will feature balconies, which will further break up the bluish glass here, which is ever-present across the city.
While the some neighbors may not be thrilled, we love to see this sort of project in such a prominent location. We would imagine people would be lining up for these (likely rather pricey) apartments. Throw on the roof deck, which will undoubtedly feature breathtaking views of the city and the Delaware River, and this has the chance to be one of the most desirable rental spots in town sooner than later.
And once things get moving on construction the Park at Penn’s Landing, which sits just a block or so to the north, and at Foglietta Plaza (hint hint), which sits immediately to the south, this will be an even more appealing location in the coming years. Would we have liked to see ground floor commercial to further activate the area? Most certainly, but we don’t mind walking a few minutes more to grab a coffee if the trade-off is hundreds of new residents bringing fresh life to this pocket of Society Hill.