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winxs Nov 3, 2008 6:25 AM

PHILADELPHIA | Lowrise/General Developments Thread
Philadelphia | Lowrise/General Developments Thread
This thread is for any project under 12 floors high or any minor development within the City of Philadelphia.

For the Philadelphia | Highrise Development Thread, please visit here:

For the Philadelphia | Metro Development Thread, please visit here:

Wheelingman04 Nov 3, 2008 5:25 PM

Damn, that is one huge expansion!!

MODERATOR SAYS: This is now the Philadelphia General Developments Thread. Any new development less than 130 ft. high is to be posted here.
Pennsylvania Convention Center - Expansion
(Image - Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau)


Location: 1101 Arch Street • Philadelphia, PA 19107
Usage: Convention, Tradeshow, and Exhibition Space
Current Size: 624,000 sq ft
Expansion Size: 376,000 sq ft
Completed Total: 1,000,000 sq ft
(Saleable Space)

Redevelopment Component: 20-story Liberty Title Tower
= Total Expansion Size: 878,455 sq ft.

Owner: Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority

Original Architects: Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback And Associates
Expansion Architects: Vitetta Group & Kelly/Maiello
Construction Management: Tishman Construction
Estimated Cost: $700 million
Completion: 2011

The Expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center will have:
  • 1 million sq. ft. of saleable space.
  • The largest contiguous exhibit space in the Northeast (541,000 sq. ft.).
  • The largest convention center ballroom on the East Coast (60,000 sq. ft.).
  • The ability to host large tradeshows or two major conventions simultaneously.

The expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center will result in:
  • More than 280,000 additional room nights and more than $140 million in economic impact annually.
  • 2,000 hospitality-related jobs equaling more than $150 million in economic impact.
(images Kelly/Maiello Architects & Planners)
(Image - Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau)


The following picture of the Convention Center's western wall (along 13th St) being removed was originally posted by Muji over on Philly VII

BigDan35 Nov 4, 2008 4:00 AM

Do you guys still feel the same about this expansion as before? A lot of people were not happy with it, considering that there will be a huge plain white-roofed footprint in the middle of Center City.

winxs Nov 4, 2008 6:18 AM

Putting in a green roof would be fantastic, but the state has to go the el-cheapo route since they are already over budget and they have a time factor to deal with....they already have events booked in the new section in 2011. That, and the problem with the rest of Pennsylvania (ie: Pennsyltucky) not wanting to spend anymore money funding something they feel will only benefit Philly.

The state had to spend more than it anticipated to buy out all of the property owners and demolish the buildings in the expansion zone. They were even pretty under-handed in how they went about it, IMO. And of course, being Philly and the whole pay-to-play atmosphere, I am sure the state (er, we taxpayers) are going to get ripped-off trying to get this building done in time. I expect there will be quality issues and shortcuts taken in order to make the deadline.

If money were no object, making this a "green" building would be huge in showing that this city and state are committed to the green movement. However, this building was designed before the Nutter administration was elected and before all of the current buzz about energy conservation and alternatives or environmental impact issues were making headlines.

In the long run, a green roof would SAVE the state money, but convincing our legislature to spend more money now in order to save money in the future isn't going to happen.

I think I remember someone on PhillyVII saying they should generate some revenue by placing advertising on that huge-a** roof. It could target planes flying overhead. ;)

ardecila Nov 4, 2008 6:40 AM

^^ Nice idea about the roof advertising... it's already been done, of course. :lol:

hammersklavier Nov 12, 2008 9:13 PM

I hope somebody has the foresight to build the roof in such a way that a green roof can be put on top of it at a later date. After all, Peco's making its roof green. (Not the bit at the top of the tower, of course, but the rest of it.)

theWatusi Nov 12, 2008 11:38 PM

Given the current state of the economy, this is a very important project for the city, and I'm glad it is finally moving forward.

Muji Nov 18, 2008 9:44 PM

November 17
Coming out of the ground.

rricci Nov 26, 2008 9:49 PM

Philadelphia: 3939 Chestnut - The Hub^1736888

tua21506 Nov 27, 2008 2:49 AM

Here is a link to some info on the project

theWatusi Dec 2, 2008 1:33 PM


Ninjawho Dec 11, 2008 3:49 AM

I'm going to try to get a couple good pictures of this...but the concrete supports are REALLY coming along. Like crazy fast.

winxs Feb 20, 2009 3:58 PM

Updates for February?
Any of you photographers out there feel like stopping by and giving us a pictorial update?

pwp Feb 21, 2009 2:31 AM


Originally Posted by winxs (Post 4099698)
Any of you photographers out there feel like stopping by and giving us a pictorial update?

I'll try to get one on Monday during lunch but it'll be iPhone quality :)

bucks native Feb 28, 2009 10:54 AM

PHILADELPHIA | Presidents' House

Conjectural elevation of the President's House in Philadelphia, ©2000-2006 Edward Lawler, Jr. This building on Market Street served as the Executive Mansion of the United States from 1790 to 1800, the "White House" of George Washington and John Adams


Render credit: Kelly-Maiello via Plan Philly

From here:

Feb. 23

Governor Rendell wants President's House fast-tracked

By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

With more than six years of planning behind them and the funds needed to complete construction and create an endowment now secure, most people involved with the President's House commemoration project are looking forward to the projected Fall 2010 opening.

Hours after the Delaware Regional Port Authority's Wednesday vote to earmark $3.5 million for the project, attorney Michael Coard remained jubilant. Coard, who founded the Avenging The Ancestors Coalition in order to be sure the project included the stories of the enslaved Africans who lived at the house, called it "a gigantic leap toward making history in America."

Foundation work is set to start this spring. Getting to that point was not a simple process, largely because the stories the memorial will tell about this nation's first two presidents and the nine Africans who George Washington held captive, mean so much to so many.

One prominent preservationist who advised the President’s House Oversight Committee, believes a wrong decision made at a critical juncture in the process - the discovery of actual, physical remnants of the old mansion - will leave Philadelphia with a monument that is not as powerful as it could or should be.

At that point, said University of Pennsylvania architecture professor Frank Matero, the design phase of the project should have returned to square one by re-opening the design competition, and a new winner should have been selected by the public.

"Philadelphia could have been on the map for this, the way it was for Franklin Court," Matero said. "I think we blew it on this. I think we missed it."

Matero, who is chair of Penn's Historic Preservation Program, said that good design should be "a visual dialogue" and in this case, the original foundations, the new interpretive center, and the structures that already exist on The Mall should be in conversation with each other. The foundations had not been discovered when Kelly/Maiello drew up the original design. And because they were added in "as an afterthought" they are not part of the current design's visual dialogue, Matero said. "The remains should be the thing that lead. In this case, they follow," he said. "That's why I think it's so dead."

The current design makes only small changes to the original design, but adds to it a glass viewing structure that will allow visitors to look down into the ground at some of the foundation remains.

Some officials at Independence National Historical Park - where the President's House commemoration will stand - did consider whether a redesign was necessary, said Jane Cowley, Park spokeswoman. But they did not mull that option for long, she said. "One thing that really jumped out was that including the archaeological remains into the design we had already would really add to the design - it was not something that would subtract from it, but something that complemented it."

"The project was already under contract as the result of a thorough selection process," said project manager Rosalyn J. McPherson, president of the ROZ Group. "Fortunately, Kelly/Maiello’s design concept was flexible enough to incorporate the discovery. There was no reason to go back to square one."

The physical portion of the Maiello/Kelly design creates a sense of the former house with partial walls and windows - including the famous bow window - fireplaces with tall chimneys, and a staircase that hints at the home's second floor. Visitors will walk across a floor plan of the former structure, and an enclosed space would allow visitors a sense of the crowded quarters where the enslaved slept.

Archaeologists came across the foundations during a dig from March through July of 2007. Under ground next to the Liberty Bell pavilion lay the arch of the bow window whose shape is thought to be the inspiration for the oval office. And there also were the walls that held the kitchen where enslaved Africans worked, and an underground passage through which they likely traveled in getting from the kitchen to the main house.

Matero saw the original design as a created ruin, constructed to give visitors a sense of place when there was no tangible evidence of the house that once stood there.

But once actual ruins were found, he said, the design no longer made sense. The dig revealed the juxtaposition of the fancy house where Washington worked on solidifying a new nation founded on freedom and the places where nine people labored in slavery.

The foundations are so powerful and so significant to the story that the city should have re-opened the design competition. "They should have been the generator of form," Matero said.

"What better evidence could you have than those two spaces coming together and touching, literally, those two worlds touching?" Matero asks. And being right next to the Liberty Bell? "I can't think of a more powerful coincidence," he said.

It's hard to find a person who doesn't agree with Matero on the significance of the site, and the power of its contradictions. "There's no place where black slavery and white freedom stood side by side in such glaring contrast," Coard said.

The President's House project has always had its share of debate - some of it quite heated. During the 2002 construction of the Liberty Bell Center, historians and the public began to demand that the President's House site be marked and that the memorial include stories of the lives of the enslaved Africans in President Washington's household.

At first, Independence National Historical Park wanted to focus only on the Liberty Bell. But in 2003, consensus was reached that the site would commemorate not only the 10-year stretch when America's first two presidents lived in Philadelphia, but also those of the nine enslaved Africans that Washington owned.

When the Oversight Committee, convened in 2005, was searching for an architect to design President's House, the 21 applicants were instructed to tell the stories of everyone who lived there. The designs also had to teach visitors about the executive branch of the U.S. government, the systems and methods of slavery and the free black population of Philadelphia.

In 2006, the committee chose the design by Philadelphia architects Kelly/Maiello from those of six semi-finalists from Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

The next year, with the archaeological findings unearthed, debate began anew. There was disagreement about how - or even if - to include them in the President's House design.

It was hard to miss the enthusiasm people had for the uncovered foundations. About 300,000 visitors came to the site to look down into what was essentially a large hole in the ground and talk to the archaeologists about what they found.

But would the physical remains get in the way of the stories? Or were they the most powerful story teller of all?

Philadelphia's prominent architecture critic, the Inquirer's Inga Saffron, took a similar position to Matero's in a July 2007 on her blog Skyline Online.

"Once the discovery of the foundations became a national sensation - attracting more than 250,000 curious visitors since early May - the Philadelphia architecture firm was asked to see if it could find a way to incorporate the foundations into its memorial design. It was clear to many that the rough, time-scoured foundations speak far more articulately and movingly than the planned Kelly/Maiello structure. Those old stones testify to the site's multiple and conflicting meanings," she wrote. "… the city should go back to square one. Hire a design consultant. Organize a national design competition. Invite the world's top designers. Include the best historians in the field, Only then will Philadelphia make this site into the national memorial it deserves to be."

At the request of the Oversight Committee, Kelly came up with strategies for five different alternatives. They ranged from keeping his original design as it was, to putting all of the foundations on display in a glass enclosure that would tie into the Liberty Bell pavilion.

The chosen alternative, with a portion of the foundations under climate-controlled glass that allows visitors to look down upon the most significant of the ruins from a viewing area, is expected to cost $6.9 million.

The ruins will be 10 to 12 feet below visitors' feet. Hidden lights will illuminate the foundations to improve visibility. Part of the glass enclosure will follow the shape of the bay window.

To Matero, the glass enclosure feels too isolated from the rest of the design. "There's a failure to engage the physical remains in a way that's moving," he said. "The current design isolates them. (Visitors will be) at a safe distance so they don't have to feel anything or be engaged."

Kelly said he and his team began their design process by looking at how best to create a scaffolding to tell the stories. A lot of requirements were included in the original RFP, he said. It asked for a floor plan of the structure to be included. "We were the only ones who laid the full floor plan," he said. "Others did it to quarter scale or even smaller, so people were not walking through it. Our objective was that anyone who came could walk and imagine what the spaces were like."

The floor plan and the partial walls, windows and other elements are based on historical records, Kelly said. It did not make sense to build a full reproduction of the house, he said, for several reasons: Many of the details of the structure, which was largely destroyed in the 1820s, are not known. The cost would have increased exponentially. And the directives given to all of the architects who competed to design the structure clearly said it was to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A replica house would have required personnel around the clock to keep vandals at bay and visitors safe, he said.

The structure has no second floor, but it has a stairway to give the sense of one, Kelly said.

The structure has fireplaces and chimneys in the living room and kitchen. The fireplaces are not as tall as in the original version, Kelly said, because the foundation remains help provide an anchor and a sense of place.

The fireplaces provide focal points and gathering spots similarly to the way the actual fireplaces did in the original house, Kelly said. Instead of a fire, the tour groups and teachers and students who stop at the fireplaces will see large video screens, upon which the stories of the Adamses and Washingtons and the enslaved will be portrayed in short films.

Matero isn't crazy about the screens. "The design relies way too much on multi-media. Design is not predominantly about words and images," he said.

The scripts are still being written. But in the living room, visitors might hear George Washington talk about the pressures of leading the new nation, or Martha Washington talk about domestic life at Philadelphia's presidential residence. In the areas where the enslaved Africans spent most of their time, they might hear and see Hercules, Washington's talented cook, who escaped to freedom. As did Oney Judge, servant to Martha Washington. Judge ran away after she learned that Martha was going to give her away as a wedding present.

Some stories about Hercules will likely emerge from his dealings with the free Africans living in Philadelphia, Kelly said. "Hercules was such a great chef that he gained financial rewards. He would spend his money, likely interacting with free Africans."

Nearby areas were home to both working class and middle class blacks, some of whom own large homes on Spruce Street, Kelly said.

Kelly is still working on some of the details about the slave quarters - a part of the design that Matero finds powerful.

The small room will be transparent. Upon its walls will be etched the names of the African tribes from which enslaved people were taken, Kelly said, and perhaps the evolution that some of their names took, from African to Christian.

Contact the reporter at

bucks native Feb 28, 2009 12:01 PM


Photo credit: PlanPhilly


Postcard credit:


Photo credit: farm2


current before closing:

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

the original:

Postcard from


Photographer number: gwp102031

Photo credit: farm1

WANAMAKER'S (now Macy's)

Photo credit: xzmattzx

From here:

Feb. 24

By Thomas J. Walsh and
Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

Broad plans for Market Street East, the inexplicably diminished commercial zone between 8th Street and City Hall, got their initial airing Tuesday night at a special presentation from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, held at Thomas Jefferson University’s Dorrance Hamilton Auditorium on Locust Street.

While the background hum has consistently been the controversy over the slots parlor slated to be moved into The Gallery’s third floor, Planning Commission Executive Director Alan Greenberger and the main architect for the early-stage plans, Stan Eckstut, stressed a public realm set of principles to lay the groundwork for a new intermodal transit station and a newly concentrated Center City “Main Street” along 10th Street. The emphasis is on bringing people and business back to Market Street – casino or no casino.

Other principles cited as bedrock for the large-scale makeover include an expansion of Chinatown (south, to gain a Market Street presence, and northeast, for in-fill development toward a revitalized Franklin Square) and Thomas Jefferson University (perhaps north toward Market).

“The potential of a casino has made this planning effort more urgent,” Greenberger said. The city had thought there would be more to talk about by now regarding the casino. “We initiated this planning process, and the intent was it would run parallel to what the casino’s plan would be,” Greenberger told PlanPhilly in an interview late Monday. “But actually the Planning Commission has gotten out ahead of the casino planning.”

Philly’s Hole in the Donut
An actual marketplace, East Market Street was an integral part of Philadelphia’s colonial era. It had been the center of commerce in the city until the 1970s, when several department stores (Gimbels, Wanamaker’s, Strawbridge’s, Lit Brothers) went into serious decline as the city continued to lose factories, jobs and residents. The Gallery, part of a larger Market East redevelopment effort, closed itself off to the street.

For at least a decade, the area bounded roughly by 8th, 13th, Chestnut and Vine streets has been known to city officials and developers as “the hole in the donut.” While much of the rest of Center City re-populated with young, upper-middle class professionals and empty nesters in new apartments and condominiums, Market Street remained virtually residence-free. The old Reading Railroad Headhouse has been handsomely restored within a Marriott, complete with a Hard Rock Café at 12th, but even that corner is bewildering to out-of-towners looking for either the Market East train station or the Pennsylvania Convention Center, blocks north, on Arch. Even 13th Street, long a degraded stretch south of Market, was given new life when Tony Goldman bought up a slew of properties and turned many into nightspots, restaurants and spruced-up rentals.

In fact, Greenberger, in the earlier interview, said there is hardly any notable landmark, for Philadelphians or visitors, with an East Market address, or an obvious entrance.

“If you think about what’s happened over the last 30 years, Market Street has been almost systematically stripped of the presence of things that exist just behind it, all around,” Greenberger said. The entrances to the Market East Station itself (along with the Greyhound Bus terminal at 10th) lurks on tiny Filbert Street. “Chinatown, robust and economically viable? Zero Market Street presence. Thomas Jefferson University, the second largest private employer in the city? No. The Convention Center? ... Not really.”

The Reading Terminal Market? Not even close. Even in the historic district, the main attractions on Independence Mall and at the Constitution Center sit blocks apart from Market. Perhaps the only new or restored notable building to embrace East Market Street, Greenberger suggested, is the Loews Hotel (the PSFS Building at 12th) and a few others west of it.

Eckstut, the planner to whom Market East has been assigned, talked upside. “I think there are many more strengths to build upon. Clearly the emphasis of all city design is on the public realm. ... That’s been our focus since day one.”

The boundaries for Eckstut’s vision are wide – from Sixth Street to Broad and from Vine Street to Walnut. Within that area, high-density, maximum growth efforts are meant to surge from all directions, with 10th and Market as the ideal center of a re-fashioned district. Its four corners are emphasized.

Guiding the plans is the concept of no one particular use, including and perhaps especially a casino, dominating the street life. Eckstut said the idea is to accommodate everyone and all uses, 24/7, the more the merrier, always active.

“The district is filled today with enormous variety,” he said. “We look at the setting and what we see is just a lot of thriving areas” – Old City, Washington Square West, Chinatown, Market Street’s western office corridor. “Every side is totally different from the rest. There is absolutely no uniformity, and we want to let this variety continue.”

Eckstut said he feels the next definite investment in the area, the one most important first step, might very well not be the Foxwoods casino. Instead, it would be a decidedly less sexy, modernized and expanded intermodal center, connecting the subway system with the west end of the Market East commuter rail concourse and the bus stations – all below grade, ideally.

Show me the money
“You have already built the most expensive part,” Eckstut said. “The thing we’re missing is the facility and the environment for buses.” Even if there is no casino, bus traffic is on the rise, Greenberger noted, to and from New York and Atlantic City and everywhere else. If Foxwoods does open, there will be buses galore, Eckstut said. So best to “make the bus experience a first class experience. ... We have the opportunity to do a really world class intermodal center.”

So it was mildly refreshing that Eckstut hazarded a guess. He said his firm built something similar in Los Angeles eight years ago for about $150 million. In Houston, he’s working on one with a budget of about $75 to $90 million. “But they’re all different,” he added. “We don’t need to build a huge one here. But it should be beautiful, built to last forever and [have] not a piece of concrete.”

Mostly, though, it’s about leveraging what’s already in place, Eckstut said. Market East has the most concentrated infrastructure of any section of the city, with all of that underground rail topped by buses and girdled by the highway system, namely the Vine Street Expressway, which, for better or worse, whips motorists into and away from the area north of Market Street in an almost gravitational pull. Along with efforts to further develop Chinatown, part of the plan would be to concentrate traffic, exiting I-676, more effectively along both 6th Street and 8th, while at the same time making those blocks more grid-like and city-like. Just how will that neat trick be pulled off? Stay tuned, the resident who asked was told.

Paul Levy (Center City District visionary):
Rip out the buses. Center City District chief executive Paul Levy, who was part of the earlier meetings with stakeholders, said he likes much of what he’s heard so far.

The emphasis on 10th Street as a walkable spine for Chinatown, Thomas Jefferson, and Wash West and “the whole notion of connecting neighborhoods to the north and south is the right idea,” he said. He’s not certain there’s been enough emphasis on an east-west connection, though, linking the Convention Center and hotels to Independence Mall.

Levy likes the intermodal transit idea, but is “skeptical” about a center located near The Gallery. The existing bus station is at best problematic, Levy said. “I think it should be removed and put out near 30th Street Station,” he said. “The bus station currently creates major problems in terms of both Arch Street and Filbert Street.”

The bus station ended up where it is by accident, anyway, he said. It used to be on West Market, but was moved when the pyramid-crowned Mellon Bank Center was built. While the current station is convenient to Market East Station, Levy said a 30th Street site would have that advantage, too – along with proximity to Amtrak.

Levy said that if there is no casino, Market East still needs improvement. And even if Foxwoods opens there, everyone needs to realize that it would not be an endless source of revenue for projects, he added – other funding streams must be explored.

Jeff, now?
Jefferson University came up several times during the meeting as an example of an institution the city would like to see on Market Street. If Jefferson wanted to build a research tower with retail on the ground floor, Greenberger said, the city would likely be amenable.

Jefferson was also given kudos for developing 10th Street into a more vibrant avenue. And then there was the fact that we were all sitting in a new Jeff auditorium. Hmmm.

Asked if the city was in talks with Jefferson, Altman said yes – but only at the same level as it is with the rest of Philadelphia’s “eds and meds.” The city is talking to all of them about their expansion plans, he said.

Contact the reporters at or

pwp Mar 1, 2009 6:07 PM

Thanks for starting this thread! Much needed.

Londonee Mar 2, 2009 1:53 AM

Does anyone know what this entire plan will consist of? If it's another notorious PHiladelphia "plan" that injects millions of dollars into firms and consultants and ultimately yields nothing--that would, in a word, suck. I find our city often to be of singular planning ability and absolutely zero action.

Anyways, will this plan fill arguably the largest current hole in a major east coast downtown? Will it get a tenant at the Strawbridge building? Does this "plan" have ties to developers?

In my opinion, Market East is useless to me and most residents that i know in the city and therefore lacks some level of redeemability and should just sell its soul and try to become the Times Square of Philadelphia. Neon, signs, big box stores, movie theatres, entertainment, chain restaurants/retail. .

I find the fact that Neon is so prominently memorable in New York, London, and Tokyo--arguably 3 of the greatest cities in the world...but SCRUB knows better here in Philly...and we just can't have that!

Tell the woman at Scrub to go f*&^ herself and light Market East up....and the people...they will come.

NYC2ATX Mar 2, 2009 5:06 AM

Mmmm this is way cool. I was just recently in Philadelphia and I love how the city is so in love with its history. I actually had no idea this house existed, this could be a very educational memorial, and right in the center of the's extremely suitable. I look forward to seeing this one take off.

bucks native Mar 3, 2009 3:19 PM

DAGSpace articles are the opinions of their authors. While DAG hopes they will contribute to constructive public dialogue, the articles do not represent the opinion or position of the Design Advocacy Group. This article is reprinted with permission from the Philadelphia Daily News, where it was originally published.

DAGSpace: Slots and the Potential of Market East
March 2009
William Becker

William Becker is a principal at Becker & Frondorf, a construction management consulting firm. He is a founder and member of the steering committee of the Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia.

THE PROPOSAL to relocate the Foxwoods slots palace from the Delaware to Market East has generated considerable comment, and much of it echoes both the support and opposition that the original location received. But the two sites couldn't be more different, and it's important to consider Market East on its own terms.

Whether or not you believe gambling is addictive, exploitative and immoral, or whether it is or isn't the financial engine that will shower desperately needed tax revenue onto our cash-strapped city, are questions that have nothing to do with location, and won't be addressed here.

Although it's understandable that the adjacent Chinatown neighborhood has concerns, we must remember that Market Street, along with Broad, are the axes that define the center of the region. They are physical assets that should be developed to serve everyone, not only the interests of any one group.

On the Delaware, Foxwoods would have been a variation on its big-box neighbors: a stand-alone building, physically separate from adjacent development, accessible almost exclusively by car - a continuation of the area's unfortunate suburban sprawl.

Many critics, bemoaning lost design opportunities, suggested changes they believed would give the project a more urban character, but it's questionable whether they could have overcome the essentially anti-urban context or the resulting traffic jams.

Foxwoods has yet to release any images of its plan for the Market Street location, so it's impossible to evaluate the new design. Encouragingly, the Planning Commission has hired Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn, a nationally renowned urban-design firm, and traffic engineers Parsons Brinckerhoff, to help assess how this use would affect Market East, and how the Market East context might influence the casino design.

After World War II, as the city experienced the same suburban migration that weakened most older U.S. cities, department stores and other retailers opened suburban branches or relocated to the suburbs entirely. Sadly, most of the urban outlets eventually closed.

Market East, the nexus of the city's most successful and vibrant retail commerce - serving all levels of the market throughout the region - became a bleak landscape. As the Center City District has repeatedly shown, Market East is the weak link unable to connect the urban assets of the Convention Center and Penn Center to the west with Independence Mall and the historic district to the east.

After an initial flourish, it never came close to restoring Market East to its former retail glory. Despite multiple attempts to improve on the original concept, its retail continues to shrink while growing ever less diverse.

This sad transformation didn't escape the notice of city government. Over the last 50 years, there has been a virtually unbroken series of interventions representing a huge investment of public funds, with a decidedly mixed record.

The most successful was the unification of the Pennsylvania and Reading commuter lines, made possible by the rail tunnel from Suburban Station to the new Market East Station that replaced the Reading Terminal, a regional mass-transit infrastructure that other cities can only envy.

The Gallery was another massive intervention, but with a far different outcome. Dominated by the Rouse Co.'s insistence on transplanting its formula for suburban malls into an urban setting, The Gallery was built as a windowless shell anchored by dying department stores and with the same chain stores already available throughout the region.

The third major intervention was the Convention Center. Its success spurred tremendous growth in the hospitality sector, but did little to improve the quality of its immediate environment. With the expansion, it remains to be seen whether more of an already good thing will produce more benefit.

Fifty years of massive public intervention and investment suggest that the real question posed by the prospect of a Market East slots palace is whether this type of occupant will help or hinder the much-needed revitalization of this critical piece of Center City now that we know that retail can't reverse history.

LIKE THEM or not, slots palaces comprise unique regional assets that will draw customers from all over the region.

Much has been made of the dramatic growth in the residential population of Center City and environs, which might support new kinds of development.

Can the slots palace spur the growth of an entertainment district along Market East that could become the one place in the city where we might relax our otherwise appropriate vigilance about signage and honky-tonk to foster the growth of our own Times Square or Bourbon Street?

We don't have one of those. Perhaps we should.

Muji Mar 9, 2009 9:52 PM

Foxwoods eyeing Strawbridge space
This was also posted over at Philly VII



Changing Skyline: Betting on Strawbridge

By Inga Saffron
Inquirer Architecture Critic

Foxwoods has become the oldest established permanent floating slots game in Philadelphia. Last fall, it ditched plans for a big-box casino on the Delaware waterfront and announced it would instead set up shop in the Gallery at Market East. Now comes word that the slots operator is eyeing the historic Strawbridge & Clothier building at Eighth and Market Streets.

Quick, someone! Calculate the odds on that.

They're not as bad as you might assume.

This latest switch, though, creates a strange predicament for the Nutter administration. How does Philadelphia prepare itself to become the largest U.S. city with casinos when it can't get a fix on the coordinates of its phantom slots parlor? Five months after signaling an interest in a Market Street location, Foxwoods has yet to show city officials a single architectural drawing of what its gaming hall might look like. Officials aren't even certain which architecture firm the company is using.

That hasn't stopped the city from moving full steam ahead on a $250,000 master plan for the ragged area around Market East, or lobbying for stimulus money to upgrade the transit infrastructure. The city's new casino consultant, Stan Eckstut of EE&K Architects, even presented his preliminary findings at a public forum last week. All his maps showed a little dot at 11th and Market Streets to identify Foxwoods, and it was clearly a starting point for his ideas.

But a day later, city officials inadvertently learned that Foxwoods was negotiating with the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) to install its slots parlor three blocks east, in Strawbridge's four empty retail floors. Couldn't Foxwoods have mentioned that detail before?

Apart from Foxwoods' secrecy (its officials didn't return my calls, either), the Strawbridge location offers a new set of possibilities for the city.

Of course, there are pitfalls, too. It's not clear that Foxwoods, which has been struggling financially, can be trusted to treat Strawbridge's soaring, columned interior with the respect it deserves. But because the 1928 art deco exterior by Simon & Simon is a protected landmark, the city would have the final word on signage, lighting, and the treatment of Strawbridge's brass-trimmed shop windows. The last thing Market Street needs is a casino version of the papered-over windows pioneered by the drugstore chains.

PREIT, which manages the Gallery, and city officials say they like the idea of having Foxwoods occupy Strawbridge's lower floors, which have been empty since the chain folded in 2006. Compared with the Gallery's 11th Street corner, which is occupied by other tenants, Strawbridge's is practically in move-in condition.

The more easterly location also has the advantage of removing the casino from the heart of Chinatown, which is vigorously opposed to slots. There would be less casino traffic on Chinatown's narrow streets, because it's a straight shot from the Vine Street Expressway to Eighth Street, and the store is surrounded by parking. And Strawbridge has a direct transit connection to Market East through the concourse.

It's true that moving Foxwoods to the gilded store would push it farther away from the Convention Center, which terminates at 11th Street, and move it closer to Independence Mall, at Sixth. But that might be turned to the city's advantage if Foxwoods could position itself as a true entertainment destination, offering more than just slots.

For years, the city has struggled to persuade conventioneers to stroll between the two tourist anchors. But as PREIT president Joseph F. Coradino acknowledges, visitors are put off by the Gallery's dull, concrete exterior and Market Street's general dowdiness. "The Gallery does a great job of defending itself against pedestrians," he deadpanned.

When Foxwoods first signaled its interest in the Gallery, PREIT saw an opportunity to freshen up the shopping mall, which has not been renovated since it opened in 1974. PREIT also had hoped to lease Strawbridge's retail space to Target. But the country's Great Recession has altered all expectations.

The Target deal appears dead, Coradino said.
And there aren't many other big retailers interested in Philadelphia's downtown mall - or, for that matter, any other mall. Big mall operators are increasingly replacing retailers with restaurants. At PREIT's Plymouth Meeting Mall, he said, the four big-name restaurant chains together gross more than a traditional department-store anchor.

No wonder PREIT warmed to the idea of leasing its premier retail space to a slots parlor. Food and entertainment appear to be the future of shopping.

The challenge will be to keep Foxwoods from turning the great Strawbridge space into an inward-looking, energy-sapping fortress. Both Coradino and city planners say they envision a ring of restaurants around the perimeter of Strawbridge's ground floor, perhaps utilizing the shop windows to draw customers.

The ring of eateries also would help push the gaming floor deeper into the space, buffering it from the street. "The casino would be heavily submerged in the character of Strawbridge," insists city planning director Alan Greenberger.

Paco Underhill, a retail consultant and sociologist of the shopping mall, points out that slots and shopping happily coexist in Las Vegas, in venues such as the Forum Shops at Caesars. But Caesars probably doesn't have the crime issues that face the Gallery. "The only thing that concerns me," Underhill says, "is the policing issues. All those people with cash in their pockets."

Still, he likes the idea of livening up Market Street in the evening, when it goes into hibernation. "The Strawbridge location is as close to Monte Carlo as Market Street gets," he observes.

If only we could be certain that Foxwoods understood the possibilities

Swinefeld Mar 15, 2009 4:19 AM

Some pics from the Ides of March, 2009

volguus zildrohar Mar 21, 2009 5:21 AM

Lodonee, I fully agree with you on SCRUB. Tacky neon is one thing but the people of SCRUB (particularly their leader who must live near a lot of take-out places) seem less concerned with what I would call blight and more about some intense vendetta against ad agencies (I've never heard of them calling for demolishing rotting buildings or neighborhood clean-ups).

This picture, taken directly from their website, illustrates what I've gathered about the organization based on everything I've ever heard involving their name.

The derelict building doesn't seem to offend their sensibilities as much as the fast food billboard that adorns it. They sound like another organization of bored, easily offended people with misplaced priorities. Cities, among other things, are places where ideas converge and all kinds of images are thrown about. It's where the most eyes and ears are found in one place. This is why there are no media pylons in quaint roadside villages. If you dislike signs, there's always Lancaster County.

I've held for a while that Market East could benefit from something along the lines of what you mentioned. Hokey as they can be, they do draw people. Such a development needn't be a ridiculous Dundas Square kind of thing but... a hood ornament enhances the appeal of even the nicest car.

hammersklavier Mar 25, 2009 3:17 PM

PHILADELPHIA | Schuylkill River Developments
As many Philadelphians know (and probably some out-of-towners by now), the South Street Bridge is being rebuilt; with that project, as well as the ongoing development of the Schuylkill Banks Park and the recently-announced development of Penn Park across the river, I believe there is enough material in the Schuylkill River area to deserve its own thread.

Now be patient with me--there's a fat wad of archives I've got to plumb through to find the necessary articles and a lot of photos and renders, etc., that ought to go into this thread--so I'm going to try and improve this OP as and when I gets time, but to start you off, here's some current info on each of the three main projects I want to touch on*.

South Street Bridge
The old bridge, dating from ca. 1920, is being demolished and replaced with a new (deck-girder) span with a few aesthetic improvements. The demolition of the previous span is almost complete and the new span will soon start being built.

Render of the new bridge (many thanks to pwp):

Schuylkill Banks Park
Most information found on This project, the construction of a riverfront trail from the Art Museum to Bartram's Garden and eventually Fort Mifflin, a portion of the ECG, is complete south to Locust, with the portion between Arsenal and Gray's Ferry (the DuPont Crescent) set to get underway soon, and construction of the linking section upon completion of the new South Street Bridge. Schuylkill Banks is a master plan including parks, greenways, and neighborhoods throughout the study area, and it is also the master plan under which Station Square is set to be developed.

Penn Park
This article is from

Penn Park, Phase 1
Model of Penn Park.

On Feb. 26, 2009, Architect Michael Van Valkenburgh unveiled the model for Penn Park, the principal project on the former postal lands. While the plan includes a parking lot for 300 cars, the park is enhancing a desperately desolate concrete landscape into a large, vast open space. David Hollenberg said “it was the first time that Penn had the opportunity to design open space of this magnitude.”

The University did not always show this regard for the neighborhoods around it. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s, the Redevelopment Authority acquired and then demolished residential and commercial neighborhoods (around 6 million square feet in all) to allow for Penn expansion. The most prominent case in point is the University’s superblock at 40th and Walnut, which compressed four city blocks into one, creating three high-rise housing dormitories for students that were out of scale with the original neighborhood.

“In the 1950s and 60s,” Praxis Director Harris Steinberg adds, “the University wanted to create an inward facing campus. In turn, this had a negative impact on the surrounding communities.” Now with Penn Connects, Steinberg believes, the University has had a philosophical change in the way its campus should physically and visually interact with the city. With Penn Connects, Penn hopes to create a beneficial environment not just for its students and faculty, but for all Philadelphians as well. “We wanted to be good stewards of the land” this time, said Anne Papageorge, the Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services.

The proposal for Penn Park calls for three playing fields, a dome to cover a field during winter months, a 12-court tennis center, a softball stadium and possibly a ropes course on the eastern edge of campus between Walnut Street and South Street against the Schuylkill River.

Papageorge says the final plans will all depend on funding as some things (e.g. the softball field) take priority over others (e.g. the ropes course). The current design of the park is also environmentally friendly, as it includes storm water management and features native plants of the region. According to Papageorge, the first phase of the park is scheduled to open spring 2011.

“The ultimate goal,” says Papageorge, “is to make this area alive with 24/7 activity.” Over time (and with appropriate funding), Papageorge says the northern edge of Penn Park will eventually become a mixed-used development to include office, retail and residences for the university and city.
Art Museum Expansion (2 Parts)
Perelmann Center: Complete
Retrofit of old office building at Fairmount and Pennsylvania. Houses garment exhibit.

Underground Gallery Space & Parking Garage: Under Construction
Frank Gehry is doing this one. (Good spot for a blob, IMO, underground).
From the New York Times:

For some, the idea may seem counterintuitive: Frank Gehry, famed for his splashy, head-turning buildings, tackles an expansion of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that will be entirely underground.

But today the museum will announce that Mr. Gehry will handle not only the addition but also a renovation of its existing neo-Classical building under an ambitious 10-year master plan.

After his 1997 Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and his 2003 Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Mr. Gehry said, he was ready for a quieter commission. “To be under the covers and to try to make architecture that way is a fascinating thought,” he said in a telephone interview. “All architects are intrigued by subterranean things; I don’t think I’m alone in that.”

“There is a kind of modesty thing,” he continued. “Most of us, we don’t set out to do the Bilbao effect, as it’s being called. It’d be a real challenge to do something that’s virtually hidden, that could become spectacular.”

From Denver to Minneapolis to Boston, a central issue in recent museum projects has been whether the architecture will overshadow the art. But Anne d’Harnoncourt, director of the Philadelphia Museum, said the original building, a sprawling 1928 landmark that anchors a nine-acre site above the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was in no danger of being eclipsed.

“It’s not flamboyant, but it’s a kind of great, exuberant building,” she said. “The challenge is to add to it in such a way that respects that but creates beautiful space within it.”

There is no design for the expansion yet, although Mr. Gehry said he had submitted a preliminary model to the museum to convey some of his early ideas. Yet the architect said that he hoped his new galleries would depart from the “white, changeable, movable box, which I don’t think came off so well at the Museum of Modern Art.” In 2004, MoMA reopened after an $858 million expansion by Yoshio Taniguchi.

In addition to his experience in designing arts institutions like the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, Calif., Ms. d’Harnoncourt said, Mr. Gehry was chosen partly for his respect for art. The museum has world-class holdings of European and American paintings, prints, drawings and decorative arts.

“Any architect who creates spaces for the art to be within — it’s important that they love the art itself,” she said. “Frank is thrilled by the collections.”

Despite its large footprint, the current building does not provide an excess of space for exhibitions. “It’s oddly enough not as capacious as it looks,” Ms. d’Harnoncourt said. “There are great works of art which we’re just not able to show.” Mr. Gehry’s work will include a renovation of the museum’s interiors to create additional space for shows. The museum’s collection of American art, for example, is currently crowded into relatively small galleries through which works like the New Hope School of Pennsylvania Impressionists, early American modernism and contemporary crafts must be rotated. “We’re filled to bursting,” Ms. d’Harnoncourt said. “We were thrilled when we realized how much space could be available.”

Altogether, the project will increase the museum’s public space by 60 percent, adding 80,000 square feet of new galleries and renovated interior spaces at an estimated cost of about $500 million. There is no construction start date yet.

New galleries will be created by excavating under the museum’s east terrace on Fairmount Hill. Contemporary art will move to these new galleries from the first-floor space it currently shares with modern art. The new spaces will have both natural and artificial light and could be darkened to show film, video and works in other media.

Their ceilings will be high enough to accommodate large-scale works by such artists as Morris Louis, Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys, the museum said.

The new space will also provide a home for the museum’s holdings from India and the Himalayas, including folk arts, decorative and ritual arts of the 17th and 20th centuries, and a collection of paintings and thangkas, or painted or embroidered textiles. New public spaces will serve as what the museum calls connectors. The museum’s original Great Stair Hall, for example, will double as an events space. Areas that are now inaccessible to the public will be reopened, making room for an education center, a larger auditorium and museum store, as well as a restaurant, cafeteria and visitor center. A loading dock will become a new grand entrance.

The museum will also create a landscaped sculpture garden with Olin Partnership, in collaboration with Atkin Olshin Lawson-Bell Architects, atop a new 440-car parking garage that will be recessed into the hillside on the building’s west side.

The museum, which selected Mr. Gehry after an international search, clearly hopes that his star power will help draw fresh attention to the institution. Efforts to overhaul the museum are already under way.

After assessing its needs in consultation with the Philadelphia-based firm Vitetta, the museum acquired a landmark Art Deco building across the street that is being expanded by Gluckman Mayner Architects. It will contain the museum’s collections of prints, drawings, photographs, modern design costume and textiles as well as its fine arts library, archives and an education resource center. Ground was broken in 2004, and it is scheduled to open next year.

Mr. Gehry said he came to the project with respect for the existing building. “It’s an old war horse; it has character and I like the setting of it,” he said. “So I like the idea of having to treat it delicately.”
Parkway Central Expansion Project
Expansion by the Free Library of Philadelphia. Safdie-designed on the north side of the Free Library. I was at the Cherry Blossom Festival the other day and found out they're still pushing for donations to it. Anyhoo,
From the Free Library website:

The expansion of the Parkway Central Library will seamlessly add 180,000 square feet of space to the historic Beaux-Arts building. New and improved features will include: a Children's Library with a Preschool Center and a Craft Room; a first-ever Teen Center; a new 550-seat auditorium; two new Internet Browsing Centers, outfitted with 300 public-access computers; a new Business Department, with presentation space, online resources and a complete curriculum in business development; and a soaring, glass-enclosed pavilion with shops, a cafe and ample space for community gatherings.

Significant renovation work on the existing building has already been completed, including the restoration of the Parkway Central Library's Main Lobby—as well as the original skylight above the grand staircase—and the replacement of the building's entire roof. Another exciting addition to Parkway Central opened on April 16, 2008; located on the Library's main floor, the H.O.M.E. Page Cafe is the result of a partnership between the Free Library and Project H.O.M.E. Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., the café offers Parkway Central users beverages, baked goods, and lunch fare, as well as a seating area with free wireless internet access.

As the heart of the Free Library system, the new Parkway Central will directly benefit all 54 Free Library of Philadelphia locations by serving as an administrative and informational hub, as well as an ideal proving ground for new types of programming to be adopted and expanded by the regional libraries and branches.

While these are certainly exciting changes—and more are underway!—the new Parkway Central still needs your help to become a reality. A donation to the Campaign for the New Parkway Central, in any amount, will be valued and appreciated. Your support will make possible dramatically increased public access to the Library's extensive collections, as well as a multitude of important new services.

Paine's Park
The Schuylkill River Skatepark

Nestled on a small ridge between West River Drive, the Schuylkill Banks Park, and the Fairmount Tunnel portal, this new skateboarders' park will create important visual and pedestrian connections between the Art Museum and the river, as well as provide for a number of 'programming' uses, such as being at times a stage and at other times a staging ground. The park was planned in conjunction with landscape designers, the City, and potential-user input, and its principles are shrouded in Baconesque aesthetics and language. When built, it should provide a much-needed transition and attraction along this stretch of the river. In addition, the East Coast Greenway is likely to be routed through this park, in order to leave the riverbank and plunge into the city.

Landscaped Parking Garage and Rooftop Sculpture Garden
This is the project that's turning that peninsula by the Fairmount Dam into an island, guys, so stop wondering!
Thanks to logansquare for providing the link.

In addition to the landscaped parking facility, rooftop sculpture garden, and relocated surface parking, the City of Philadelphia is committed to providing the following additional public amenities in the area bounded by Lloyd Hall, Waterworks Drive, the Italian Fountain, and the Schuylkill River:

* The current "silt peninsula" in the Schuylkill River will be improved and made publicly accessible by dredging a channel between it and the river wall. The newly created island will be accessed by a pedestrian bridge and will feature boardwalks with built-in seating and interpretive graphics. Additionally, invasive vegetation on the island will be removed and replaced with native plants. The density of plants will be thinned to open views to the river from the adjacent park area and recreation path. The island is envisioned as a place for environmental education and quiet contemplation.
* Between the existing Waterworks Drive parking and the river wall, the City will install an interactive water feature and children-themed sculpture.
* A new handrail will be installed on top of the existing river wall. A section of the railing may include sculptural panels.
* Themes for the interactive water feature, children's sculpture, and handrail sculptural panels have not been chosen. Possible themes include the history and animals of the Schuylkill River and the history, plant, and animal diversity of Fairmount Park.
* The existing paved recreation trail will be relocated to accommodate the new 27-space parking lot. The realigned trail will pass close to the interactive water and sculptural elements, enabling the public to engage with these amenities. It will include lighting, benches, and trash receptacles.
* The landscaped area around the Italian Fountain will be widened to reduce pavement and provide a more appropriate and accessible setting.

Design and construction of the environmental island, interactive water feature, sculptural elements, handrails, increased Italian Fountain surrounds, and associated landscaping will be funded by the City of Philadelphia. The Museum will fund the design and construction of the relocated recreation path and associated site amenities (lighting, benches, and trash receptacles) in and around the new 27-space parking lot.

North End Improvements (includes a pocket plaza)

North End improvements will include a paved plaza near Martin Luther King Drive, river overlook, pergola, stairs to a lower trail, and increased landscaping. Work is already underway, and the project should be complete by Fall 2009.
Construction Photos

If you look at the design, you'll see that this annex is in a scrap of land between the Trail, MLK Drive, and the acreage where Paine's Park's proposed to be.

Barnes Museum
Site Prep
Taken January 27, 2010
The building will rise along the Parkway between the Free Library (Logan Square) and the Rodin Museum. Completion date is currently unknown, but by the looks of current construction speed, I would guess mid-2011.

A separate thread dedicated to it can be found here.

These links are most useful in finding out what's going on:

*All photos credited to either or unless otherwise noted.

sharkfood Mar 25, 2009 4:45 PM

Can someone please tell me what the proposed use of the existing office tower, 101 N. Broad St. is? I know it's being incorporated in the design but what will the use be? It's been vacant as long as I've known it.

rricci Mar 26, 2009 10:07 AM

Great idea about the separate thread. I am a little curious (read: annoyed) at seeing that it looks like they are making connecting ramp/stairs from JFK Blvd to SRP in front of 30th Street Station (behind PECO). You can already access SRP from that level on Market Street, and we desperately need connecting stairs/ramps from JFK to the lower streets of 23, 22, 21 to make walking access to Logan Square neighborhood. There are 5000 workers coming soon in the old PO building - let's make changes that make this a living and working neighborhood. Not everyone wants to play on the river trail, some of us just need to get home from the train.

hammersklavier Mar 26, 2009 1:18 PM

Cool beans. This is my first P&C thread, so I'm pretty sure I did something wrong. Why do you think they're only doing JFK access on the south side? I was down there yesterday and Walnut's got stairwells on both sides.

I agree that opening the trail up to the neighborhood more will be a good thing, but it's hard to see how we would win those concessions from CSX. Maybe we need to build connecting stairwells between JFK and 21st, 22nd, and 23rd where it runs along the Chinese Wall...

Oh, and I found a couple renders for the new bridge at The South Street Bridge Coalition's website:

pwp Mar 28, 2009 3:47 PM

With regard to the South Street Bridge, I was initially unimpressed with the plans and renderings. There was so much potential to have a stellar project, yada yada yada. But I am growing to like the new design. Check out a nighttime rendering here:

philadelphiathrives Mar 28, 2009 8:18 PM

You should also check out the developments further north, towards Fairmount Park. All around the Waterworks they're redeveloping with cool things, like the cliffside paths, a new garage at the Art Museum that will have a sculpture garden on top, they renovated a gazebo and built something called the "rustic pavilion" on the hill by the Art Museum, and on the West side they created Drexel Park and a jogging trail along 31st St. and Mantua Ave. all the way to 34th St. :cool:

In the near future, they plan to convert the small peninsula between the Waterworks and Boathouse Row into an island that would also be a small nature center, expand the area around the fountain in the traffic circle there, do more renovation of the Art Museum grounds, do more landscaping on the Schuylkill Banks below the Waterworks, and, of course, build that skate park they've been talking about. It all sounds very exciting! :D

philadelphiathrives Mar 28, 2009 8:38 PM


Originally Posted by sharkfood (Post 4159224)
Can someone please tell me what the proposed use of the existing office tower, 101 N. Broad St. is? I know it's being incorporated in the design but what will the use be? It's been vacant as long as I've known it.

It may become a hotel. Some developer is considering converting it to a hotel and having a cafe next door where the small office buildings used to be. :D

philadelphiathrives Mar 28, 2009 9:12 PM

You know, most people don't realize just how important the convention center expansion is. It's economic impact is more than some more hotels and restaurants.

The PA Convention Center is the number one convention center for medical conventions in the country, and maybe the world. With the expansion, that will be even more the case. That means that medical and biotech companies are coming here in large numbers and get to see the city up close. What's more, if a medical or biotech related company wants to do in-person sales and marketing, then there would be no better place in the world to do that than Center City Philadelphia. The PA Convention Center is becoming the epicenter of the world's medical, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. :D :cheers: Many life-science and medical related companies might see having an office, or their HQ, in Philadelphia as a must for the sales and marketing opportunities.

Also, the convention center is located between, and within walking distance to, the Comcast Center, and its growing news channel, on one side and the Constitution Center on the other. That would make the PA Convention Center a prime location for any political or social organizations that want some media attention. :tup: :cool:

Plokoon11 Mar 28, 2009 9:25 PM

I could see the city using the large CC roof for solar panels.

Swinefeld Mar 28, 2009 9:36 PM

Some pictures from today, March 28, 2009

Never waste a good crisis? :sly:

hammersklavier Mar 30, 2009 11:36 AM

Pwp's pic:

Philadelphiathrives--Yeah, I kinda forgot about the bits around the Art Museum. (This is my first P&C thread, remember.) If you have any photos/links, would you mind sharing them? I'll try to update the OP as I get more renders/info.

hammersklavier Mar 30, 2009 11:43 AM

The protestor's one sign is funny!

Nice pics Swiney. I had no idea construction had progressed so far.

sharkfood Mar 31, 2009 5:26 PM


Originally Posted by philadelphiathrives (Post 4165115)
It may become a hotel. Some developer is considering converting it to a hotel and having a cafe next door where the small office buildings used to be. :D

In other words, there are no firm plans. what an embarrassment to have a vacant office structure in the middle of a brand new convention center that the state has invested $700 million in.

winxs Mar 31, 2009 5:53 PM


Originally Posted by sharkfood (Post 4169467)
In other words, there are no firm plans. what an embarrassment to have a vacant office structure in the middle of a brand new convention center that the state has invested $700 million in.

Hey, at least they didn't tear that building down like they did the rest of the row.

Ninjawho Mar 31, 2009 7:06 PM


Originally Posted by sharkfood (Post 4169467)
In other words, there are no firm plans. what an embarrassment to have a vacant office structure in the middle of a brand new convention center that the state has invested $700 million in.

Wow, you must get embarrassed kinda easily then, huh?

The project is still a long ways from completion and the economy is only starting to even out. You don't think this won't be prime for redevelopment? It will be ground zero for conversion in the city. I wouldn't worry about it...

philatonian Apr 1, 2009 7:46 PM


Originally Posted by sharkfood (Post 4169467)
In other words, there are no firm plans. what an embarrassment to have a vacant office structure in the middle of a brand new convention center that the state has invested $700 million in.

Marriott converted two large office buildings into hotels after the first phase of the Convention Center was built in the 90's. This was on top of Marriott and Hilton both building new hotels in the same vicinity. I seriously doubt there will be any trouble finding a hotel to invest in the corner of Broad and Arch in the wake of the expansion.

hammersklavier Apr 1, 2009 8:43 PM

Or the W lot. Kimpton(?) (Starwood?) was asinine to let that one slip through their fingers, especially since the Convention Center's expansion's pretty much on track for a 2010 opening.

Plokoon11 Apr 1, 2009 11:39 PM

THe bridge is fancy and modern but it could of been better. Some cities have small triangle art designs like suspension bridges have, they could of did something with that.

hammersklavier Apr 2, 2009 12:17 PM

I agree this bridge could have been better designed. Ah well. At least now we have some serious ammo to get the PPA to actually hire somebody who does awesome bridges when they're done this project, to rebuild the those '50s-era bridges they put up when the Expressway was built (and whose reconstructions are next)...

In the meantime, here is a good new render of the boardwalk section of the Schuylkill River Trail, from Plan Philly:

Next Up For the "Hidden River":
The Schuylkill River Development Corp. “has unveiled the conceptual design of the boardwalk it plans to build between Locust Street and the South Street Bridge,” according to the Alliance Web site, where you can see a slide show of a Nov. 17 presentation. The boardwalk, extending 50 feet into the river, would have a concrete surface, 15 feet wide and four to nine feet high off the water, depending on the tide.
The SRDC has so far raised $4 million of the $10 million needed for construction.

There are bigger plans in the works, too.

“They have set their sites on creating the region’s first green transportation corridor,” said Stuart. “There are several sections of the park starting in the Southwest ... to Fort Mifflin, and then our little piece where the park ends now, at Locust Street, down to South Street, then all the way down to Bartram’s Garden. Going north, there are pieces that are missing around Manayunk and into Montgomery County.

“All together it’s eight sections, it would be $20 million and we think there would be a whole lot of people that would benefit if we can get these projects funded within the next year, with the next [federal] transportation bill.”

phillyscooter Apr 2, 2009 2:22 PM

"UP river"
The fish ladder is looking complete at the Waterworks dam. The parking regulations were updated along Boathouse Row...

pwp Apr 2, 2009 8:01 PM


Originally Posted by hammersklavier (Post 4173073)
I agree this bridge could have been better designed. Ah well. At least now we have some serious ammo to get the PPA to actually hire somebody who does awesome bridges when they're done this project, to rebuild the those '50s-era bridges they put up when the Expressway was built (and whose reconstructions are next)...

In the meantime, here is a good new render of the boardwalk section of the Schuylkill River Trail, from Plan Philly:

This is definitely some interesting stuff. Also, Hammer when do you think the other (bland IMO) bridges crossing the Schuykill will be reconstructed?

philatonian Apr 2, 2009 8:39 PM


Originally Posted by hammersklavier (Post 4171906)
Or the W lot. Kimpton(?) (Starwood?) was asinine to let that one slip through their fingers, especially since the Convention Center's expansion's pretty much on track for a 2010 opening.

What lot is this?

philatonian Apr 2, 2009 8:51 PM

SCRUB is insane. Clear Channel was going to put hundreds of benches and trashcans around the city. All we had to do was let them sell ad space on them. Ads on trash cans and benches...LIKE EVERY OTHER CITY IN AMERICA. SCRUB put a stop to that so now we still have to walk 5 blocks out of our way to find a trash can and 20 blocks to have a seat.

As for Market East, I'm all for a glowing neon and plasma nexus of consumerism between 9th and 11th Streets. This street was Philadelphia's original marketplace, let's bring that back and turn it into a 21st century shrine to capitalism.

1SharpeMan Apr 2, 2009 9:08 PM

Well, the good news it it sounds like you walk about 5 blocks out of your way to throw away your trash, but the problem is this invites anyone to just throw their trash on the ground because there is not a trash can around!!!! I would much rather see a "Clear Channel" Bench and trash can then litte everwhere! They are insane!

Ninjawho Apr 3, 2009 1:58 AM

12 and Arch, cross from R Terminal...

tua21506 Apr 3, 2009 7:31 AM

Hello everyone its been a while.... but has anyone seen the for sale sign on the parking lot of I believe I wana say 11th and vine...Its posted by PanAm states hotel development site......

bucks native Apr 3, 2009 8:40 AM

trails go regional

MICHAEL BRYANT / Inquirer Staff Photographer

Lower Merion's assistant planner Christopher Leswing, on the Manayunk bridge, has plans for a feeder trail to connect the township directly into Philadelphia's pathway system - a symbol of city-suburban cooperation.

from here:

Apr. 3, 2009

Changing Skyline: Making an urban link by bike path
By Inga Saffron

Inquirer Architecture Critic

Philadelphia and Lower Merion may be joined at the geographical hip, but much has kept them apart - a river, a highway, political preferences, money, and lifestyles. So could something as simple as a bike trail be the thing that brings them closer?

It's beginning to look that way. Captivated by the crowds that jam the recreation paths on Philadelphia's side of the Schuylkill, Lower Merion is readying plans for a feeder trail that will connect the township directly into the city's pathway system. The two-mile ramble will start at the Cynwyd train station and use Manayunk's iconic arched railroad bridge to take people across the river.

Of course, if you're badly in need of a cup of coffee right now, you can easily walk the trail to one of Manayunk's many outdoor cafes - assuming you don't mind stepping through a little mud and chunks of gravel.

The path neatly follows an old Pennsylvania Railroad coal road, cleared of its tracks years ago by SEPTA. When I made the trip with the township's assistant planner Christopher Leswing, we were passed on the Manayunk bridge by the Lower Merion High School track team, which already uses the Cynwyd trail to access Philadelphia's paths.

The crunch of gravel beneath their sneakers is the sound of barriers crashing down. Until Mayor Nutter crossed City Avenue last spring to talk up regional cooperation, it had been a decade since a Philadelphia leader reached out to its wealthy neighbor. His gesture paid off in October when Lower Merion joined several Philadelphia groups to form the Schuylkill River Park Alliance, which will coordinate the region's expanding trail network.

Even though Lower Merion already has raised the $1.5 million it needs to pave and landscape its trail, it supported the Alliance in sending a delegation last month to Washington to lobby the area's congressional representatives for funding. Instead of promoting pet plans, the Alliance packaged nine trail projects in a single $21 million proposal.

For the equivalent of a couple of AIG bonuses, the Alliance argues that it could fill in every missing link - a total of five miles - between Bartram's Garden in West Philadelphia and the Ivy Ridge station in Manayunk, creating a continuous, 14-mile paved trail, with feeders to Cynwyd and the Cobbs Creek Parkway trail. Incorporating the majestic Manayunk railroad bridge is not just a perfect reuse of the 92-year-old span - it's a terrific symbol of city-suburban cooperation.

Bike trails are clearly having their moment. Before the economic meltdown, the paths were viewed as a pleasant amenity. Now, they're seen as a way to create jobs, leverage development, and provide people with access to a forgotten landscape. They also offer an alternative to driving.

While it's unlikely that significant numbers will use the Cynwyd Trail to commute to work, Leswing says he can imagine Lower Merion residents walking or biking to Manayunk for dinner. At the Cynwyd end, the project has already spurred the renovation of the historic, 1890 train station, which will have a cafe and serve as a trail-head information center.

Meanwhile, O'Neill Properties has proposed a 600-unit apartment complex along the trail, on the site of the 17th-century Pencoyd Iron Works, one of many foundries and mills that once lined the Schuylkill. O'Neill's project hasn't been approved yet, and there are some serious questions about its design, but it could ultimately provide a model for waterfront development in Philadelphia, particularly on the Delaware River.

The township is offering to let O'Neill build more densely if the developer agrees to construct the portion of the trail that runs through its property - and keep it public. Future residents would be able to walk to Manayunk in minutes using another old railroad connection, the Blackie Bridge.

The other Alliance members also are hurrying to produce shovel-ready designs. The Schuylkill River Development Corp., which built the popular trail through Center City, expects to start work early next year on the DuPont Crescent, where the riverbank bumps out near Wharton Street in Grays Ferry.

Although the 3,600-foot section won't be immediately linked into the trail, it sets the stage for connections to the West Philadelphia side. In the meantime, the crescent will be lushly planted as a nature park for the neighborhood.

More problematic for the SRDC is the extension of the Schuylkill Banks from Locust Street to the South Street Bridge. Because the bank is so narrow, the SRDC determined that adding landfill would cost too much and take too long. Instead, it decided to build a 15-foot-wide floating boardwalk, which it hopes to finish in time for the bridge's reopening in late 2010.

The existing 12-foot path in Center City can get pretty crowded, but at least it has grassy shoulders to take the overflow. It's hard to imagine how a floating path - with no shoulders - will handle the growing traffic. SRDC's director, Joseph Syrnick, acknowledges the problem, but argues there is no affordable alternative. The boardwalk will have several overlooks where people can pull over if things get too jammed on the path.

It's not the only bottleneck along the 14-mile trail.

The Manayunk Development Corp. is looking to create a bypass at the Wissahickon Gateway, where the Kelly Drive path meets Ridge Avenue. The intersection is an important transfer point for SEPTA buses, and bicyclists and bus riders invariably clash. But the solution could require a new bridge over the creek, as well as the acquisition of private land along the river's edge.

Daunting as it sounds, the Alliance members remain bullish about raising federal funds to complete the nine missing links in the next few years. Syrnick goes even further: He predicts the Schuylkill River Trail will reach the Delaware River "before I leave this job." How long is that? "Give me five or six years," he says.

Contact architecture critic Inga Saffron at 215-854-2213 or

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