Philly Undergoes a Real Estate Makeover
by alexandra leshner
A new skyscraper has Philly looking up, a hotel gets a major redesign, and a famous local home goes on the market, while two projects spring up in university-centered neighborhoods.
The Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel.
Come 2017, Philadelphia’s ever-evolving skyline will reach new heights with the addition of the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center (18th and Arch Sts.), a joint venture of the Comcast Corporation and Liberty Property Trust. Located near the media giant’s soaring Center City headquarters, the new property—a $1.2 billion, 59-story multi-use tower—will serve as a home base for Comcast’s expanding workforce and house the local broadcast television stations NBC 10 and Telemundo 62. A Four Seasons hotel—with more than 200 rooms, a spa, a fitness center, event and meeting facilities, and a restaurant—will occupy the top 12 floors of the building.
Set to break ground this summer, the tower was designed by internationally renowned architect Norman Foster of Foster + Partners, and the owners will seek LEED Platinum certification. The glass and stainless-steel structure will encompass 1.517 million rentable square feet and have a block-long lobby featuring a new concourse with direct access to Suburban Station.
The construction of Philly’s new tallest building is expected to be a boon for both the city and the state, generating $2.75 billion in economic activity and 20,000 temporary jobs, plus 4,000 new permanent jobs in the Commonwealth (2,800 of them in the city) upon completion.
Following a $20 million redesign, the Radisson Plaza– Warwick Hotel in Rittenhouse Square is now the East Coast’s first Radisson Blu property (220 S. 17th St., 215-735-6000). One of three Radisson Blu locations in North America, the Philadelphia venue joins an elite group of all-star hotels.
“Radisson Blu hotels are located in key destination cities globally, and many are or have become iconic landmarks,” says Joanne Cunningham, the hotel’s general manager. “With that global recognition and all the international business and tourism initiatives occurring in Philadelphia right now, it presented an opportunity that couldn’t be overlooked.”
The extensive renovation includes enhancements to the hotel’s 301 guest rooms, a new business-class floor with a private lounge and a 2,000-square-foot fitness center, and a contemporary redesign of the lobby. The property also offers three distinct dining options—Tavern 17, The Coffee Bar, and The Prime Rib—and there are plans to update the meeting and event spaces in the near future.
The Main Line real estate market has been abuzz with the news that the home of Pat Croce, former president of the Philadelphia 76ers, is on the market for $7.95 million. The 10,625-square-foot property, situated on 3.5 acres in Villanova, has all the bells and whistles one could want in a luxurious suburban home.
“Few properties can compete with the unique and detail oriented design of this home,” says Lavinia Smerconish of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, Realtors (763 W. Lancaster Ave., Ste. 200, Bryn Mawr, 610-520-3708). “The house, much like Croce himself, is a classic in most respects but also has a creative, engaging, and playful aspect.”
The two-story Colonial-style residence, which has six bedrooms and eight full baths, features a screening room, a home office, a full basement, and a 10-car garage. Outside, the beautifully landscaped backyard has a pool, a pool house, and a tennis court.
On every other floor of Morgan Hall, there’s a sunny two-story student lounge.
Temple University has a major new enhancement in Mitchell and Hilarie Morgan Hall (1601 N. Broad St.), a $216 million residential and dining complex at North Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Morgan Hall is the most recent project to be built as part of the Temple 20/20 framework for campus development, a multifaceted strategy to increase student housing and enhance campus life.
“With our new president, Neil D. Theobald, we have embarked on a new campus master-planning process,” says Michael Scales, associate vice president for student affairs in the department of university housing and residential life. “What the building represented for us was an opportunity to build a signature residence hall on Broad Street that was an investment into the overall student experience.” Adds James P. Creedon, Temple’s senior vice president for construction, facilities, and operations, “Our momentum is part of North Broad Street’s momentum. We’ve seen exciting developments that benefit students and local residents alike—including the first supermarket on North Broad in years and the re-emergence of North Broad as a vital and safe place to be at night. The construction of Morgan Hall will accelerate those positive changes.”
Designed by MGA Partners Architects, Morgan Hall consists of three buildings: two residential towers and a three-story dining and retail pavilion. A total of 364 units provide housing for 1,275 students, while a 30,000-square-foot landscaped terrace offers a communal space for the entire Temple community to enjoy.
“We wanted a progressive character both outside and inside that would satisfy the university but be fresh for young people to embrace as theirs,” says Daniel Kelley of MGA. “Our firm specializes in university projects, so we understand the deep collaboration that is necessary to accomplish a project of this size and complexity.
Temple had confidence in our firm that we would create a sophisticated and urbane building that would raise the bar for future campus architecture.”
An artist’s rendering of West Philly’s new gateway, the 47-story FMC Tower.
A significant multi-use project will break ground in University City this year, as Brandywine Realty Trust develops FMC Tower at Cira Centre South (30th and Walnut Sts.), a 47-story building to be occupied primarily by FMC Corporation, one of the world’s leading specialty chemical companies. With 830,000 rentable square feet, FMC Tower will serve as a gateway to the University of Pennsylvania campus and West Philly, says Brandywine’s president and CEO, Jerry Sweeney. “Brandywine’s goal in building the FMC Tower at Cira Centre South was to continue connecting University City with Philadelphia’s [central business district], creating a real neighborhood.”
FMC spokesman Jim Fitzwater adds, “The new tower will help expand collaboration opportunities with the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the University City Science Center.”
With the help of the world-renowned architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, Brandywine is aiming for the highest—and newest— standards in design quality. The building is expected to be LEED Silver–certified and will feature column-free floor plates and technologically advanced systems that allow for optimal efficiency. Cira Green, a one-acre park at the heart of Cira Centre South, will provide outdoor space for both corporate events and individual enjoyment. “FMC Tower at Cira Centre South will be an iconic landmark,” says Sweeney, “creating an exciting visual statement on the city’s resurgent skyline.”
Photography by Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (Radisson); Herb Engelsberg (Croce); OLIN Partnership (Temple); Rendering courtesy of Brandywine Realty Tr ust
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