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Philadelphia 76ers will Finally Have Their Own Training Center, But in Camden

12 Jun 2014, 12:53 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The Philadelphia 76ers will break ground on a new practice facility and headquarters building along the Camden waterfront in New Jersey.

The team, which is one of the oldest franchises in the National Basketball Association and yet the only team that doesn’t have a dedicated practice facility, has been training in a rented space at the College of Osteopathic Medicine in West Philadelphia since 1999. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers’ initially wanted to build a 55,000-square-foot facility with two basketball courts, locker rooms, lounge space and broadcast center at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where the team has administrative offices, but that plan fell through.

After having investigated other relocation options, the Sixers eventually decided on a site located near the Adventure Aquarium and the Susquehanna Bank Center and filed for incentives with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). Following EDA’s unanimous decision to grant $82 million in tax credits over the next ten years, the Sixers announced this week they will break ground on their very own training center in October this year.

At 120,000 square feet, the new practice space will become the largest and most advanced facility in the NBA, and will house the team’s basketball and business operations staffs. The massive development project is scheduled for completion in June 2016.

“It is imperative we are able to provide our players, coaches and staff with the resources necessary for success,” said Sixers co-Managing Owner David Blitzer. “This facility—the size and scope of which will be unmatched in the NBA—will allow our team to make great strides on and off the court as we work to join the league’s elite.”

According to the Sixers’ announcement, the new training center in Camden will be developed by Philadelphia-based AthenianRazak, while INTECH Construction will serve as the project’s construction manager. Jacobs Global Buildings Design is listed as the architect of record, and Threesixty Architecture will be the consulting design architect.

The Sixers are not the first team to train outside their home city. Last year Commercial Property Executive reported that the NFL’s Washington Redskins opened a $10 million training center in Richmond as part of an economic development between the city and Bon Secours.

Taller Puertorriqueño to Build New HQ Facility ‘El Corazón Cultural Center’

6 Jun 2014, 2:00 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

El Corazón Cultural Center

El Corazón Cultural Center

Taller Puertorriqueño, a community-based multidisciplinary arts group that has been supporting the Latino and Puerto Rican culture in the Philadelphia region for almost four decades, is looking to expand in a new headquarters facility in the Fairhill neighborhood of eastern-north Philadelphia.

Known as El Corazón del Barrio or “the golden block,” the area spans several blocks between Huntingdon Street and Lehigh Avenue that house Latino businesses, community organizations, retail and restaurant space. Taller Puertorriqueño’s new multipurpose building, which has already received approval from the City Planning Commission, will be called El Corazón Cultural Center and will replace a 2.3-acre surface parking lot located at the corner of North 5th and West Huntingdon. The City of Philadelphia transferred the 2.3-acre site to Taller Puertorriqueño in December 2007.

Taller Puertorriqueño currently operates in two separate buildings totaling 10,000 square feet on

El Corazón Cultural Center

El Corazón Cultural Center

North 5th Street that are two blocks away; with the new cultural center, the organization hopes to create a more visible space in a single location that will accommodate Taller’s existing programs while introducing new programs and activities that will reach a broader audience in the Latino community.

The 24,000-square-foot cultural facility was designed by Philadelphia’s Wallace Roberts & Todd Architects (WRT), with Antonio Fiol-Silva and Modesto Bigas- Valedón, serving as principal architects. According to Taller Puertorriqueño, El Corazón Cultural Center will include a larger gift shop, a more spacious and more flexible exhibition gallery, seven classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology, as well as dance and theater studios that can combine into a 5,000-square-foot event space with 220 seats. The cultural center will also feature an expanded bookstore, a café, a family/community gathering space, children’s play area, administrative offices, a patio and 100 parking spaces.

According to PlanPhilly, the project is estimated to cost up to $11 million, of which Taller Puertorriqueño has already secured $6.6 million. The project is eligible for $3 million in New Market Tax Credits, which leaves the organization with a $1.5 gap that the group is trying to close by running fundraising campaigns and offering naming opportunities for specific spaces in the El Corazón Cultural Center.

Rendering courtesy of WRT Architects

65-Unit Affordable Housing Community to Replace Old Knitting Mill Site in Burlington

28 May 2014, 4:02 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Apartments at the Mill - Burlington NJ

Apartments at the Mill – Burlington NJ

The City of Burlington and Ingerman Development Group, a real estate development company based in Cherry Hill, NJ, this week celebrated the official start of construction of a new affordable housing project located only 20 miles from Philadelphia. Dubbed “Apartments at the Mill,” the residential project will be built on a vacant, 2.4-acre site and is part of a larger redevelopment plan to transform the derelict Knitting Mill Area into a new, dynamic neighborhood that is expected to ease the strong housing demand in Burlington County’s oldest city.

Overall, the new apartment complex located at 505 Mitchell Avenue will have 65 affordable rental units in a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that will be housed in five, three-story multifamily buildings constructed at the site. According to the Burlington County Times, construction at the Apartments at the Mill will be completed this fall. Leasing of the units is expected to begin in spring 2015, with monthly rents ranging from $300 to $1,000 depending on the income, the news source said.

Knitting Mill Structure on Mitchell Avenue - Burlington NJ

Knitting Mill Structure on Mitchell Avenue – Burlington NJ

The development site includes an abandoned, 11,000-square-foot textile mill (pictured at right) that was last occupied by the Raffino Knitting Corp. Once renovated, the building will house a community center and office spaces on the ground floor and 11 apartment units on the remaining two floors.

As reported by The Courier-Post, the $15 million project was financed through a mix of affordable housing credits from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, Wells Fargo and the Burlington County HOME program.

Project rendering via the City of Burlington on Eventbrite

Failed Marina View Project on Columbus Blvd. Comes Back to Life as 250-Unit Residential Building

22 May 2014, 4:06 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

One Water Street

One Water Street

PMC Property Group plans to revitalize 230 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, one of the many vacant parcels near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing District. According to PlanPhilly, the lot has a decade-long history of failed redevelopment projects that have been revolving around Marina View—Lou Cicalese’s plan to create a residential and commercial building on Philadelphia’s Central Delaware Waterfront.

The final version of the Marina View tower that was OK’d by the City Planning Commission in late 2012 called for a 14-story building with 180 apartments built on top of a three-story podium base of structured parking with retail space. However, the developer never went forward with his controversial project and, as previously reported by the Philadelphia Business Journal, sold it for around $5.5 million to an entity affiliated with PMC Property Group.

The new owner has renamed the project One Water Street and hopes to break ground on a 16-story building with 250 rental apartments this July. Designed by Varenhorst Architects to seek LEED certification, the project will also include 73 parking spaces, a fitness center, bike storage room, a green roof and two public green spaces along Columbus Avenue designed by Land Collective’s landscape architect David Rubin. As reported by PlanPhilly, the two public spaces will encompass approximately 11,600 square feet, or 20 percent of the development site.

Though One Water Street is not included in the Central Delaware Master Plan, it received positive feedback from the Central Delaware Advocacy Group which pledged to send a letter of support for the project to the Civic Design Review Committee.

If One Water Street gets the green light for construction, PMC Property Group hopes to complete the project in about 18 months.

Rendering credits to Varenhorst Architects via PlanPhilly

Construction Starts at 72,000 Sq. Ft. Outpatient Healthcare Facility in Penn Township

14 May 2014, 3:50 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Anchor Health Properties, a Wilmington, DE-based development company focused on medical facilities, recently started construction on Penn Medicine Southern Chester County, a new outpatient healthcare facility located at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 79—two of the most heavily traveled roads in Chester County.

Penn Medicine Southern Chester County

Penn Medicine Southern Chester County

The 72,000-square-foot medical building in Penn Township will be anchored by the physicians and services of the Chester County Hospital. According to Anchor Health Properties, these services include imaging, lab draw, physical therapy, primary care as well as outpatient, same-day surgical procedures. Special amenities will include a concierge desk located in a two-story atrium, a café offering ready-to-go snacks and refreshments, a community resource room and outdoor event space. Penn Medicine Southern Chester County will be conveniently situated on a spacious 45-acre site with walking trails, meadows, landscaping and free parking.

The project’s construction manager is The Norwood Company of Malvern, while conceptual plans were designed by ARRAY Architects, according to the developer who hopes to finish construction at the site by spring 2015.

“The design creates a comfortable, high-quality healthcare experience for the convenience and customer service of physicians, patients and visitors, and utilizes building materials and landscape elements that reflect the history and environment of southern Chester County,” said Paula Crowley, CEO of Anchor Health Properties, in a press statement.

According to Chester County officials quoted by the Daily Local News, a market research study from 2009 found that the southern Chester County area needed an additional 21 physicians. However, given the fact that nearly 20 percent of Chester County Hospital patients come from the southwestern part of the region, the need is expected to grow to more than 30 by next spring.


Rendering courtesy of ARRAY Architects

Hospitality 3 Announces Study Hotels Concept for Philadelphia’s University City

7 May 2014, 8:21 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Hospitality 3, a hotel and real estate development company with offices in Manhattan and New Haven, CT, is set to break ground on a new hotel facility in West Philadelphia.

The Study at University City - Philadelphia

The Study at University City – Philadelphia

The company announced it entered a long-term ground lease with Drexel University to develop a 10-story facility on the northwest corner of 33rd and Chestnut streets in the University City district. The 145,000-square-foot hotel called The Study at University City will be operated by Hospitality 3’s Study Hotels—a brand described as a lifestyle concept conceived to accommodate the news of university markets by offering high quality, full-service lodging.

“We are delighted to have secured such an incredible site in the heart of University City and a short walk from 30th Street Station,” said Paul McGowan, Hospitality 3 Principal. According to the company, McGowan himself developed the Study Hotels concept that caters to students and staff members in dense college and university areas. Designed to create an “urban retreat” for visitors, professors, students, families and locals, Study Hotels also look to have a strong relevance within the community by capturing the character of the area and the personality of the neighboring institutions—such is the case for The Study at Yale, Hospitality 3’s first hotel of this kind that was developed on the Yale University campus in New Haven, CT. The 124-key boutique hotel opened in 2008 and went on to become one of the favorite lodging options in the area (apparently Hollywood star James Franco lived there during his years at Yale).

Award-winning architecture firm DIGSAU created the conceptual design for the building in Philadelphia’s University City. The hotel will offer 212 guest rooms along with a restaurant that can accommodate more than 100 people, a fitness center and 7,000 square feet of meeting space.

According to Hospitality 3, the hotel project is scheduled for completion in 2016.

Rendering courtesy of DIGSAU

Liberty/Synterra JV Breaks Ground on 75,000 Sq. Ft. Building at the Navy Yard Commerce Center

30 Apr 2014, 4:09 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Activity is buzzing at the old Philadelphia Navy Yard as the business campus continues to add new office buildings to accommodate the growing list of companies that are rapidly joining the site’s tenant roster.

4000 S 26th Street - Navy Yard Commerce Center

4000 S 26th Street – Navy Yard Commerce Center

Located in South Philadelphia and developed by the now-famous Liberty Property Trust/Synterra Partners partnership, the 40-acre Navy Yard Commerce Center is a master-planned project that consists of a mix of renovated historic buildings and new high-performance and LEED certified buildings. The Commerce Center is part of the Navy Yard, a 1,200-acre waterfront business campus designated as a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone (KOIZ) that is currently home to more than 11,000 employees and 143 companies in the office, industrial/manufacturing, and research and development sectors.

The Liberty/Synterra joint venture recently broke ground on its third flex building at the Navy Yard Commerce Center, an official statement shows. The 75,000-square-foot Class A commercial facility is located at 4000 S. 26th Street and is already fully pre-leased to three international tenants.

Conceptual plans for the $13 million development project were designed by Environetics, a New York-based architecture and interior design firm. Set for completion by December 2014, the single-story structure will join Liberty/Synterra’s two other build-to-suit flex buildings located at 4020 and 4050 S. 26th Street, which are also 100 percent leased.

“The appeal for high-quality flex space centrally located in the region continues to attract new companies to The Navy Yard, in this case from as far as China, Australia and the United Kingdom. With all five flex buildings in The Navy Yard at capacity, we will continue to meet this growing demand with plans already underway for our sixth flex building,” said Brian Cohen, Liberty Property Trust vice president and city manager at the ground breaking ceremony.

EcoSave, a large Australian energy efficiency company, announced earlier this year that it has chosen the Navy Yard as the location for its headquarters in the U.S. The company has already leased 20,000 square feet at 4000 S. 26th Street and plans to move in as soon as the building is completed.

Clinigen, a specialty global pharmaceuticals and services business based in the United Kingdom, will also set up its U.S. headquarters at 4000 S. 26th Street. According to the developers, the company will occupy approximately 10,000 square feet of space in the new building.

The third tenant is WuXi AppTec, Inc., a global pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and medical device outsourcing company with operations in China and the United States. WuXi Apptec was Liberty’s first tenant in the Navy Yard in 2003, when it leased 75,000 square feet of research and development space. Reportedly, Wuxi AppTec will expand into 45,000 square feet of the building, bringing its total footprint in the navy Yard to nearly 130,000 square feet.

Rendering courtesy of Libery Property Trust and Synterra Partners

HOW Properties Working on New Student Housing Complex in West Philly

16 Apr 2014, 7:55 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A local real estate management company is building a new student housing facility on Woodland Avenue in the west section of Philadelphia—or West Philly, where student housing is scarce though the area is home to several well-established universities such as the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, the University of Sciences in Philadelphia and Saint Joseph’s University.

4619 Woodland Avenue - West Philadelphia

4619 Woodland Avenue – West Philadelphia

West Philly Local reports that HOW Properties is currently working on a 20,000-square-foot complex at 4619 Woodland Avenue that will offer housing options to students enrolled in the University of Sciences in Philadelphia (USP). The 1,890-square-foot development site is a formerly vacant parcel that HOW Properties acquired in July 2013 for $865,000 according to data from PropertyShark.

The three-story building will include 16 housing units in a combination of two-, three-, four-, and five-bedrooms and only one studio. Reportedly, the project had an estimated completion date set for August but the developer decided to push this date until next summer because many students had already signed leases for the 2014-2015 school year. According to West Philly Local, the units will be available for rents between $800 and $3,200 a month but the prices are expected to change next year.

HOW Properties also included a commercial retail space on the ground floor of the building and hopes to work with the USP board to identify a tenant that would be beneficial for the area and the building’s residents.


Rendering credits: HOW Properties

Rittenhouse Realty Advisors Sells Wyndmoor Gardens Apartment Asset for $7.1 Million

14 Apr 2014, 1:52 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A residential complex in Chestnut Hill, one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Philadelphia, recently changed ownership in a $7.1 million transaction.

Wyndmoor Gardens - Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

Wyndmoor Gardens – Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Realty Advisors sold the Wyndmoor Gardens apartment community at 219 E. Willow Grove Avenue to an undisclosed local private capital group. Located directly across the street from the Wyndmoor SEPTA Regional Rail Station and offering convenient access to downtown Philadelphia, Conshohocken and King of Prussia, the horse shoe shaped complex consists of five residential buildings totaling 88 apartments (63 percent of which are two-bedroom units), one retail store and 21 income-producing garages.

“The property traded at a sub 5% CAP on trailing 12 month numbers in the heart of Chestnut Hill,” stated Ken Wellar, managing partner with Rittenhouse Realty Advisors.

Wyndmoor Gardens was sold with excellent value-add opportunity for the buyer as most of the units haven’t been renovated and are still rented at below the market average. Information from LoopNet.com reveals that average rents in the Chestnut Hill submarket range from $900-$1,000 per month for one-bedroom units to $1,300-$1,400 per months for two-bedroom units. According to Rittenhouse, the new owner of Wyndmoor Gardens plans to complete high-end upgrades to the 88 units which could push up rents by a whopping 25 percent.


Image via Rittenhouse Realty Advisors

110 Luxury Apartments Under Construction at 2021 Chestnut Street

8 Apr 2014, 1:19 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

AQ Rittenhouse - 2021 Chestnut Street

AQ Rittenhouse – 2021 Chestnut Street

The wave of residential projects that hit the vibrant Center City neighborhood of Philadelphia continues with yet another upscale development at 2021 Chestnut Street near Rittenhouse Square.

In less than one week Aquinas Realty Partners is set to officially break ground on AQ Rittenhouse, a high-rise luxury apartment building designed for active young professionals looking for an urban lifestyle. The 12-story story will replace a long-vacant community center that served as an annex for the former YWCA building.

According to Philadelphia Inquirer, the four-story YWCA annex—a veritable source of blight—was purchased by Aquinas Realty in 2010 for around $1 million from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Designed by BLT Architects to qualify for LEED Silver certification, the $33 million AQ Rittenhouse will be a much-needed urban-infill redevelopment in a busy commercial and residential area in Center City. The mixed-use building will boast 110 first-class luxury units combined with nearly 5,000 square feet of street level retail/restaurant and commercial space brokered by CBRE |Fameco. The building’s basement will be occupied by the Freire Charter School. The list of amenities includes a fitness center, 24/7 concierge and doorman, dog wash room, wifi internet, extensive bike storage and repair shop, car share garage and roof top community gathering facility. Project plans also include a 2nd floor central courtyard offering panoramic views of Rittenhouse Square and the Philadelphia skyline.

When completed in late 2014, AQ Rittenhouse will offer mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments featuring hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, washer-dryer units, and granite countertops.


Rendering of AQ Rittenhouse credits to BLT Architects via Aquinas Realty Partners

Philadelphia Advances Strategic Plan to Create 1,500 New Low-Income Apartments

31 Mar 2014, 6:53 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A new housing plan that is expected to create more affordable units in gentrifying neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia was announced recently by the City Council.

The “1,500 New Affordable Housing Units Initiative” plan calls for 1,000 new affordable rental units and 500 new residential units available for ownership in strategic locations called Opportunity Zones, in an effort to balance Philadelphia’s uneven economic recovery. According to a City Council report, there is a list of more than 110,000 families waiting for PHA housing but only 1,500 units become available each year.

“The affordable housing crisis and growing income inequality are undeniably linked. Right now, Philadelphia has a great opportunity to reverse these negative trends and become a national model for how to strategically deploy public assets in order to promote healthier, more productive communities,” City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said in a statement.

The strategic initiative was designed to generate more than $680 million in economic activity and create over 4,200 jobs. It highlights five primary goals:

-     Use state and federal housing funds to their maximum potential;

-     Revitalize blighted neighborhoods by building affordable rental and ownership units on publicly owned land;

-     Advocate sustainable mixed-income communities by developing affordable rental and ownership units in the city’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods;

-     Convert publicly owned land into taxable properties;

-    Create both construction and construction-related jobs in addition to post-construction jobs in managing and maintaining the affordable rental units.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the monthly mortgage payments for the new ownership units would range between 15 percent and 23 percent of the target buyer’s monthly income. For the rental units the city is expected to set aside $100,000 for each of the 1,000 new affordable rentals in order to subsidize the related operational costs for the next 30 years. This would be possible with the help of a $100 million loan and additional affordable housing subsidies from the Philadelphia Housing Authorities.

Scannapieco Reveals Plans for $150 Million Ultra-Luxury Residential Tower in Old City

16 Mar 2014, 3:39 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Plans for an ultra-luxury residential tower in Philadelphia’s historic Old City neighborhood were announced this week by Scannapieco Development Corporation, the developer behind the highly successful condos at 1706 Rittenhouse Square in Center City.

500 Walnut - Old City Philadelphia

500 Walnut – Old City Philadelphia

Located at Fifth and Walnut Streets and facing Independence National Historic Park, the planned 500 Walnut tower will replace an underdeveloped 18,155-square-foot parcel that has been vacant for the past 10 years. Philadelphia Magazine notes that the construction site is currently owned by Five Hundred Walnut Associates, but Scannapieco is expected to purchase the lot for $8.5 million in the next 60 days.

Architect Cecil Baker was hired to create the conceptual design for the 26-story glass needle structure. “500 Walnut is perched on the threshold of history, and it’s also the gateway to society hill. As such, I envisioned it as a building that should be accepting and cognizant of its historical foreground, and at the same time, be a slim, elegant contemporary beacon in Philadelphia,” said Cecil Baker in a statement for the press. “It’s a unique opportunity—to be able to view the great paradigms of American history from atop your home in a building that is the first of its kind in Philadelphia.”

The super-luxury residential tower will be built at a $150 million cost and is projected to break ground in early 2015.  Starting spring 2017, when the building will be ready for occupancy, 500 Walnut will offer 40 housing units starting at 2,100 square feet. Fourteen of these apartments will be located on the upper floors and will be marketed as private, full-floor 4,200-square-foot units boasting large balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, fireplaces and private elevator access.

According to the developer, these full-floor units will range from $4 million to over $13 million. 500 Walnut will include only two penthouses, each of them featuring two stories with over 8,400 square feet of customizable space. Other amenities include a two-story fitness center with a large outdoor terrace overlooking National Historic Park, an underground fully automated parking garage for more than 80 cars.


Rendering courtesy of Cecil Baker and Partners via 500walnut.com

Penn’s South Bank Master Plan To Include 200,000 Sq. Ft. Innovation Center

10 Mar 2014, 3:41 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

University of Pennsylvania - South Bank aerial view

University of Pennsylvania – South Bank aerial view

The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) revealed plans for a research park anchored by a new innovation center that will be built on the former DuPont Marchall Research Laboratories site, a large industrial property along the Schuylkill River that will house the planned South bank campus.

Philadelphia Inquirer previously reported that the 23-acre industrial site located between 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue served as an automotive paint lab, manufacturing and testing facility for DuPont until 2009, when the factory was shut down. One year later the site containing 250,000 square feet of laboratory, office and warehouse space was acquired by Penn for $13 million.

University of Pennsylvania - South Bank conceptual land use plan

University of Pennsylvania – South Bank conceptual land use plan

Designed by architecture firm Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT) to support entrepreneurial and innovation growth in Philadelphia, the South Bank is an important component of Penn Connects 2.0—an ambitious long-term development strategy that has added almost 3 million square feet of space to Penn’s campus and increased the university’s open space on campus by 25 percent since 2006, when the university embarked on a two-decade expansion plan.

A 200,000-square-foot incubator and accelerator dubbed the “Pennovation Center” will anchor the university’s campus and will serve as a hub for collaboration and creativity while encouraging the exchange of ideas for innovators from Penn’s departments. According to a news release, Penn’s flexible project design allows for another 550,000 sq. ft. of new campus space that will be built in phases over the next twenty years.

Penn’s South Bank is very much in sync with Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation’s (PIDC) long-term revitalization plan of the entire Lower Schuylkill River into a 500-acre Innovation District, a Logistics Hub and an Energy Corridor while expanding riverfront green space.


Renderings courtesy of PennConnects

New Owners Announce Luxury Apartments for Avenue of the Arts Building

3 Mar 2014, 10:03 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


MRP Residential, a division of MRP Realty of Washington, D.C., and Des Moines-based Principal Real Estate Investors recently acquired the full, 209,000-square-foot residential component of the Avenue of the Arts Building in Center City Philadelphia, with plans to redevelop the asset into high-end apartments. The new owners did not disclose the purchase price, but sources quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer say the amount could be in the range of $29 million to $34 million—or $175 to $200 per square foot.

Avenue of the Arts Building, Philadelphia, PA

“By acquiring the Avenue of the Arts Building, MRP and Principal Real Estate Investors have a unique opportunity to redevelop this historic structure into a luxury apartment project in the heart of Philadelphia’s Center City,” said in a statement for the press Bob Murphy, managing principal of MRP Realty. “The immediate access to vibrant nightlife, retail, dining and entertainment options, and the proximity to top universities, hospitals and employers combine to make the Avenue of the Arts Building a prime location for a best-in-class development.”

Located at 1338-1348 Chestnut Street in one of Philadelphia’s most elite neighborhoods, the Beaux Arts style structure was constructed in 1897 as an office building. A century later it was acquired by Lubert-Adler Partners and Philadelphia  Management Co. who converted the building into dorms for students enrolled at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.  In 2004 New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. bought the building for a reported $45 million, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

Currently the building houses around 600 students, while the first flour floors are occupied by retail and commercial tenants. The new owners announced plans to convert the residential space into 220 high-end rental units totaling around 176,000 square feet of space while keeping the existing property façade and structural system. The redeveloped building will include a state-of-the-art lobby, leasing office, fitness center, theater room, clubroom, interior landscaped courtyard and roof deck. According to the MRP Residential/Principal partnership, construction on the renovation is scheduled to start in late 2014 (after the art institute’s lease expires) with a completion date set for early 2016.


Image courtesy of MRP Residential

Mormon Church Reveals Plans for Apartment Tower, Meeting House in Center City

20 Feb 2014, 4:32 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

1601 Vine Street – View from Logan Square

With construction at a new temple in Center City Philadelphia advancing according to plans, Mormon Church officials recently revealed renderings of another development that will be located just one block from the future temple, on an existing surface parking lot immediately north of Vine Street and 16th Street.

Jointly designed by Philadelphia-based BLT Architects and Robert A. M. Stern Architects of New York, the private development backed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints consists of two distinct projects: a public meeting house for the church and a 32-story residential tower developed by Property Reserve Inc., the Mormon Church’s for-profit real estate investment arm.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the two-story meeting house located at Vine and Franklin Town Boulevard will serve as a place of gathering, recreation and worship for around 1,000 of the 25,000 Mormons living in Philadelphia. The 24,000-square-foot meeting house will also host history and cultural centers for church and community members, as well as an outdoor courtyard.

The 490,000-square-foot apartment tower at 1601 Vine Street will have 250 market-rate rental units, 13 three-story townhouses and nearly 12,000 square feet of street level retail space meant to enhance the pedestrian character of 16th Street.

While church officials haven’t revealed any details regarding the total building costs, the Philadelphia Business Journal estimates that the project will need around $120 million in private financing. No groundbreaking date has been announced either, as project plans are yet to be approved by the City Planning Commission. However, the development is expected to create 1,500 to 1,800 construction jobs during construction.

Rendering courtesy of Robert A. M. Stern Architects 

Apartments and Boutique Hotel Coming to Queen Village

13 Feb 2014, 4:05 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

An area that comprises 13 buildings spanning from the corner of 5thand Bainbridge to Kater Street in the neighborhood of Queen Village immediately south of Center City will soon be replaced by an interesting mix of apartment buildings and an upscale boutique hotel.

Former John C. Paul store in Queen Village, Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that local real estate firm Zaken Realty Trust acquired 13 properties from the Paul family which operated John C. Paul & Sons, a paper goods and cleaning products store that closed last summer. Zaken Realty Trust is focused on purchasing value-add assets in residential areas with high retail and multifamily demand. The company has already developed 15 mixed-use properties throughout Center City Philadelphia. With the help of Precision Realty Group—which also serves as the developer behind the Queen Village project—Zaken Realty Trust is now expanding its footprint in other neighborhoods outside Center City.

According to the Journal, the project should be completed by the end of summer 2014. Only two buildings will be transformed into apartment units. The remaining properties will be converted into a 30-room boutique hotel. The project also includes 7,000 square feet of street level retail space that could house a restaurant and a number of small independent stores that are expected to meet the need for boutique retail in this neighborhood.

Australian Energy Efficiency Company to Open U.S. Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard

7 Feb 2014, 3:23 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Business is thriving in South Philadelphia. A new tenant joins the long list of companies at the growing Navy Yard campus.

Ecosave (logo)

Ecosave, Inc., a large Australian company that provides energy- and water-saving services to commercial and institutional clients, has chosen the Navy Yard as the location for its headquarters in the U.S. and plans to create around 125 new jobs over the next three years. Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Ecosave spent two years determining which North American city (the shortlist included Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Toronto) has high energy costs that could provide a large pool of potential clients.

Philadelphia Navy Yard

The two-year effort to attract Ecosave to the Navy Yard business campus was led by Select Greater Philadelphia (an economic development marketing organization focused on business attraction and retention in the Greater Philadelphia region), Philadelphia Industrial Corporation (PIDC), the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“As a national hub for energy efficiency research and commercialization, The Navy Yard’s Smart Energy Campus is an ideal location for Ecosave to launch into North America. Ecosave’s new headquarters at the Navy Yard will add to the dynamic mix of more than 10,000 employees and 130 companies already located at this sustainable and innovative business campus,” said John Grady, president of PIDC.

According to officials, in January 2015 Ecosave will move in around 20,000 square feet of space in a new, 75,000-square-foot state-of-the-art office building that will be developed by Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners. Until then the Australian company will occupy 6,000 square feet of office space at 3 Cresent Drive.

Image via The Navy Yard

Parkway, Hanover JV Unveils Design Plans for Massive Mixed-Use Project at Broad and Callowhill

30 Jan 2014, 3:16 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Hanover North Broad

Hanover North Broad

A joint venture between the Parkway Corporation, one of the biggest parking space owners in Philadelphia, and The Hanover Company of Houston, TX has plans to transform the large public surface parking lot—a 60,140-square-foot grouping of parcels, to be more exact—between Callowhill and Wood Streets with Broad Street into a huge residential and commercial complex with hundreds of apartments and plenty of retail space.

The plans submitted for approval with the City reveal two separate buildings with identical configurations and across the street from each other on the southeast and southwest sides of the intersection, forming a potentially vibrant commercial corridor.

The larger of the two buildings, a six-story structure, will occupy the southwest corner of Callowhill and Broad Streets. According to Curbed Philly, it will include 229 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments and more than 11,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, a residents’ lounge, pool and fitness room. Residents will also have access to a bicycle storage facility with 77 spaces and 130 parking spaces contained within a 256-spot garage.

The second building will stand five-stories high and will include 110 studio, one- and two-bedroom units, 6,122 square feet of ground floor retail space, 38 bicycle parking spaces and 58 parking spaces contained in a 114-spot garage.

Hanover North Broad

Dubbed Hanover North Broad, the project was designed by Baltimore-based Design Collective, Inc. to achieve National Green Building Standard Certification. The project will incorporate a variety of sustainable strategies that will equally benefit the future residents and retail tenants, as well as the Greater Center City community: light-colored roofing and landscaped courtyards to help alleviate the heat-island effect of the surface lots; the use of vegetated planter boxes located within the internal building courtyards to provide shading for the sidewalk and buildings; Low-E glazing on windows to maximize daylight use and energy performance; Energy Star appliances and low-flow fixtures; and low-VOC materials to optimize indoor air quality.

Because of its large size, the project will undergo a public design review which will be conducted by the Philadelphia Planning Commission on February 4.

Renderings courtesy of The Hanover Company 

Philadelphia Listed Among Top 10 Cities for Green Meetings

24 Jan 2014, 6:48 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Though in recent years the meetings and events industry was badly impacted by the economic downturn, this sector is trying to regain its well-deserved place among the best performing industries in the country. To underscore these efforts, GreenBiz.com recently announced the Top Ten U.S. Cities for Green Meetings, a list developed based on industry standards for sustainable meetings and convention practices.

Shortly after Philadelphia hosted US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Greenbuild International Conference, the city has been ranked among the top ten U.S. cities for most Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified meeting spaces.

GreenBiz.com listed a number of energy efficient factors at the Pennsylvania Convention Center: the LEED Gold Certification that the venue earned for its expansion in 2011; the use of 100 percent decomposable and biodegradable food and beverage products and Green Seal-certified cleaning products; the use of renewable energy and other energy-saving initiatives that that led to its high ranking.

“We have made a concerted effort to make the facility a national leader in the race to provide environmentally sustainable meeting space. This ranking affirms our commitment to the environment and lets our customers know that we are focused on sustainability in our daily practices and long-term strategic plan,” said John McNichol, Acting President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, in a press statement.

Pennsylvania Convention Center

Located at 1101 Arch Street in Center City Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Convention Center opened in 1993 as a response to the growing convention industry in the state. Originally designed by Thompson, Ventulett & Stainback Associates with Vitetta Group and Kelly/Maiello Architects and Planners to accommodate conventions, exhibitions, conferences and other public events, in 2006 the venue embarked on a 5-year, $786 million expansion process under plans designed by tvsdesign with Vitetta Group and Kelly/Maiello Architects and Planners.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center currently provides almost 1 million square feet of sealable space that includes the largest convention center ballroom on the East Coast (55,400 square feet) and the largest contiguous exhibition space in the Northeast region (five halls totaling 528,000 square feet). Featuring high-definition cameras with full-perimeter views, cell-phone charging, way-finding and exploring machines, expanded digital signage and free Wi-Fi for attendees, this is the most technologically advanced convention center in the country. The venue implemented a more efficient use of electric power which resulted in a 34 percent drop in electricity costs in 2012.

As part of the convention center’s green initiative, the venue also provides user-friendly charging stations for electric vehicles and a  green roof—that also serves as a “green parking facility” thanks to a LED lighting system—designed to manage storm water and reduce energy consumption, while reducing noise and air pollution.

In August 2011, the Pennsylvania Convention Center achieved LEED Gold certification in recognition of the convention center’s constant commitment to sustainability.

Image via Pennsylvania Convention Center on Facebook

First Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Opens at Philadelphia Navy Yard

16 Jan 2014, 8:34 pm

Courtyard by Marriott Philadelphia Navy Yard

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

As the Navy Yard Corporate Center keeps growing and adding new businesses, the hospitality industry follows the same positive trend in this thriving business campus in South Philadelphia.

Long Beach, CA-based development company Ensemble Hotel Partners, LLC last week officially opened its first hotel at the Navy Yard, roughly one year after groundbreaking. Located at 1001 Intrepid Avenue with convenient access to the Philadelphia Sports Complex, Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia Zoo and City Hall, the Courtyard by Marriott hotel was developed by contractor INTECH Construction and will be managed by Marriott International, Inc.

The $34 million facility was designed by Erdy McHenry Architecture to achieve LEED certification for energy efficiency by incorporating a range of “green” amenities and services—such as composting its organic materials or encouraging guests to join the hotel’s recycling program.

Courtyard Philadelphia South offers 172 stylish guest rooms, each of them featuring plush bedding, a functional work space, spacious bathrooms, a separate seating area and complimentary in-room high-speed Internet. Designed for business travelers and tourists alike, the new hotel also includes a fitness center and more than 1,800 square feet of meeting space that can hold up to 100 people.

“From day one, Courtyard has prided itself as a brand that listens to what business travelers want from a hotel,” said Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager, Courtyard. “Guests want more control and choice with services and amenities that create a healthy balance between working and relaxing. The Courtyard lobby invites guests to get out of their rooms to work, socialize or be entertained, whether traveling alone or with colleagues.”

Spanning 6.5 million square feet at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the Navy Yard Corporate Center is a business campus committed to smart energy innovation and sustainability. It is home to more than 10,000 employees and 130 companies in the office, industrial/manufacturing, and research and development sectors.

Rendering via Ensemble Hotel Partners

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