By Jessica Green | February 27, 2015 | Home & Real Estate
An evergrowing Center City skyline features a new hotel, residential buildings, and retail spaces.
The 12-story boutique Hudson Hotel will include eco-friendly, sustainable building materials.
The heart of Philadelphia holds some of the city’s top restaurants, residential buildings, and retailers. To add to the growing lineup, DAS Architects has announced the creation of the Hudson Hotel (219 S. 17th St.), a 12-story boutique hotel located at 17th and Chancellor Streets. The space will have 310 guest rooms and 40 executive suites, with a venue on the penthouse floor. In addition to the rooms, the hotel will also have two stories of retail, a ground-floor restaurant, and event and meeting facilities.
The project is led by DAS Architects, a Philadelphia-based company known for its work on the Granary Apartments and the Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. “We are thrilled to announce this innovative project,” says Dave Schultz, founder of DAS Architects. “This new hotel will breathe fresh air into the city’s hospitality market, not only providing much-needed rooms and meeting spaces, but exciting food and beverage options as well.”
Set to open in 2016 with construction beginning now, the $125 million property will also boast advancements in technology, architecture, and eco-friendly and sustainable building materials. All of these enhancements will bring on an influx of new jobs. “In addition to developing a spectacular new luxury hotel for the city, we will create 300 to 400 new jobs,” says Schultz.
Morgans Hotel Group, which also owns the Hudson Hotel in New York, plus other hotels in Las Vegas and Istanbul, will be heading the operation. The Philadelphia Hudson will be modeled after New York’s in both design and architecture, with floor-to-ceiling glass in each of the guest rooms and a small room off the lobby meant for guests and locals to relax and have a light bite.
The long-awaited high-rise at 500 Walnut (500 Walnut St., 215-574-0500) officially breaks ground this March. The 26-story residential tower is developed by Scannapieco Development Corporation and features 38 private residences throughout the building. The luxe interior is enhanced by its prime location in the city—steps away from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
To make the property unique, Scannapieco and his team have implemented upscale amenities, including a fully automated parking system for more than 80 cars. The system allows residents to call for their car and, within 90 seconds, it will be automatically retrieved and waiting for them, a system similar to that at 1706 Rittenhouse, which was also developed by Scannapieco. The fitness center is a glass-enclosed, multilevel space with rooms for yoga and massages and a 50-foot lap pool. For those looking to entertain for business or for pleasure, the space has an entertainment suite with a catering kitchen and private boardroom. Going above the standard list of amenities, this residential property also has a golf simulator, a dog wash area for pets, a town car available with a personal driver, and a 24-hour full-service concierge. Of the 38 units, 12 are full-floor residences spanning 4,300 square feet and featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, fireplaces, private elevator access, and two expansive balconies. A 4,000-square-foot terrace will also be available to residents, with a fire pit and lounge space with perfect views of Independence Park.
Cecil Baker + Partners (1107 Walnut St., 215-928-0202), an award-winning architecture firm whose headquarters are just down the street, is leading the design, creating strong historical elements in a modern complex. 500 Walnut will stand beside Philadelphia’s most iconic buildings as a complement to their history rather than a vision of change. Occupancy is set for the spring of 2017, and with Scannapieco’s high reputation already in place with 1706 Rittenhouse, 50 percent of the building has already been reserved.
A building made entirely of glass will bring an updated look to the city’s biggest shopping district. The three-story structure currently pegged as 15 and Walnut (1426 Walnut St.), located at the intersection of the streets in its name, will be used for both retail and commercial space. The project is led by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ), the brains behind the Apple retail stores, including the famed glass cube in Manhattan. BCJ has a Philadelphia office on Broad Street, and it was entirely its local architects who worked on this new property. “The glass architecture is going to be nothing like Philly has seen before; it’s really going to pop on that corner,” says Michael Gorman, senior agent and listing broker of Metro Commercial Real Estate, who is handling the leasing aspect. The property will also offer 18-foot ceilings on every floor. “It’s unlike any ceiling height in Philly,” says Gorman. “It’s contemporary and it’s world class. The architecture is different but will certainly fit in and be a showplace for these retailers.”
One of the main tenants set to occupy the building is the Cheesecake Factory, which will span the second floor. “[Its] entrance is off of Walnut Street and is on the second floor; right as you walk in, you’re greeted with an escalator. It is modeled after the Cheesecake Factory in The Grove in Los Angeles,” says Gorman. The ground floor is set to hold one or two retailers, and there’s a third floor of commercial space, which has its own private door access. “Verizon has signed the lease on part of the ground floor,” says Gorman. “There’s space left along 15th Street totaling 2,365 square feet left over with a dedicated entrance. A bunch of different tenants have interest. We are trying to work through what works best with the space; it might be retail, office space, or even a fitness facility.” The projected opening to the public is the summer of 2015.
The Parsonage, one of Main Line ReBuild’s eight revamped properties in Gladwyne Commons, houses two 1,500-square-foot townhomes.
Center City is on the rise, but the suburbs aren’t falling far behind. Main Line ReBuild has two new projects to add to its growing list of revamped properties. The first is Gladwyne Commons (310–324 Righters Mill Road, Gladwyne), located in the village of Gladwyne. The property is split into five categories, with eight total properties, each featuring upscale residences ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet.
The smallest properties are located in The Parsonage Building, where you will find 1,500-square-foot townhouses. The renovated spaces are complete with three bedrooms, two baths, and off-street parking. Fellows Hall holds two of the units in Gladwyne Commons and comes with elevators to take you to all three stories of the unit and a two-car detached garage. The Drake and the Chatham are both single-family homes settling at 2,600 square feet. Each home has three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a full unfinished basement, and an attached two-car garage. The fifth property, Righters Mill Place, is a former church converted into two homes, each with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a two-car garage.
Main Line ReBuild’s second project is up the road in Ardmore. The Ardmore Baptist Church will be renovated to become Arbors at Athens (120 E. Athens Ave., Ardmore), a five-unit condominium complex. “We have a lot of experience in dealing with older structures, some dating to the late 1700s, but an almost 100-year-old church does provide some challenges,” says Scott Brehman, principal and partner with Main Line ReBuild. “How to deal with and take advantage of the soaring spaces, how to convert the different levels into living space, and how to bring in natural light through the stained-glass windows are all interesting challenges.”
Main Line ReBuild seeks to convert old churches and buildings while still maintaining their historical elements. Many of the existing elements will stay in place, creating unique properties that are full of tradition and modernization. The Arbors at Athens will keep some of the stained glass, stone, and natural light from the original church. “The Athens Avenue Church was constructed out of all stone, which is an incredible material to work with. We were able to get second floors up into the soaring spaces for our units to utilize that space,” says Brehman. “With regard to the stained glass windows, we are working with an incredible outside contractor with many years of experience to allow us to keep the existing frame and some of the existing stained glass in place, while adapting the perimeter of the stained-glass area itself to allow for natural light to come in.”
Brehman and his team are also using the existing structure to create modern amenities like an updated parking garage. “What we are finding very interesting with regard to the design element is that we can utilize the lowest level of the church to accommodate our parking,” says Brehman. “We excavate out a sidewall to allow for access into this level and then bring in a driveway from the outside. This allows us to avoid any surface-level garages, which keeps the sight lines the way the community is accustomed to seeing the site. In addition, our buyers appreciate connected parking into their units. [It’s a] win-win for all parties.”
Photography by Scannapieco Development Corporation