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Keystone NAP Reinvents Former Fairless Works Steel Mill into Advanced Data Center

21 Nov 2014, 7:45 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Keystone NAP Data Center - Bucks County PA

Keystone NAP Data Center – Bucks County PA

Once a buzzing steel mill that employed thousands of people, the former Fairless Works located on the bank of the Delaware River in Bucks County will be replaced by an advanced data center that is expected to cater to the technology needs of the Northeast’s growing business environment.

Keystone Network Access Point (NAP)—a relatively new partnership which was incorporated by a veteran team of IT executives in 2013 and is based in Fairless Hills, PA—is betting on the severe lack of data centers immediately north and east of Philadelphia. “We are bridging a crucial technology gap on the East Coast,” said Peter Ritz, founder and CEO of Keystone NAP. “Yet until now, there haven’t been solutions in the region to address the new demands those applications create. Companies increasingly need greater data center power and connectivity, as well as service support to keep operations running smoothly while employees focus on core business functions,” he added.

Located on South Pennsylvania Avenue on the USX Industrial Park, Fairless Works became fully operational in December 1952. According to a case study by Carnegie Mellon University, the 2,500-acre facility originally consisted of a coke plant, a chemical plant, a power house, a steel mill and finishing and forging facilities. The plant reached peak operations in the mid-1970s, when it employed around 7,000 workers. The plant closed most of its operations during the 1980s and only the steel finishing facility, which employed 100 people, remained operational.

Keystone NAP Data Center -aerial rendering - Bucks County PA

Keystone NAP Data Center—aerial rendering—Bucks County PA

Two years ago the Philadelphia Business Journal reported that Steel ORCA had plans to invest approximately $750 million in a large size data center, but the project fell through eventually.

Keystone NAP, which has developed a system of private modular, stackable data center vaults called KeyBlocks, expects the 180,000-square-foot data center to become operational in early 2015. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the co-location and IT services provider has raised capital from a group of Philadelphia-based investors led by Ira Lubert along with additional investors arranged by DH Capital. Taking advantage of the existing power infrastructure at the site—Exelon Fairless Hills Steam Generating Station, Waste Management Landfill Gas Reserve, PSEG Mercer Generating Station, Wheelabrator Falls, and Dominion Energy Clearinghouse—Keystone NAP will offer a web-scale infrastructure and 2,040 megawatts of guaranteed power durability.


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Renderings courtesy of Keystone NAP


Former Frankford Chocolate Factory, 1515 Market St. Up for Grabs for a Cumulative $100 Million

16 Nov 2014, 3:02 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


Frankford Chocolate Factory Site Philadelphia

Frankford Chocolate Factory Site Philadelphia

One of the largest sites available for development in Philadelphia is looking for a buyer as lawyers are liquidating its late owner’s real estate assets.

As reported by Philadelphia Inquirer, CBRE was tapped to market the 2.3-acre site that used to accommodate the former Frankford Candy & Chocolate Factory in the southwest section of Center City. Previously owned by Truong Dinh Tran, a Vietnamese-American who created a veritable empire of low-rent hotels in and around New York City. The 100,000-square-foot factory site is located at 2101 Washington Avenue and was purchased by Truong for $5.75 million in 2007 with plans to spend $100 million to transform the property into a mixed-use community tailored to Philadelphia’s Vietnamese community. The news source also reports that a scaled-down version of Truong’s development proposal was approved by the city, but the project failed to become reality because of the economic downturn.

The Frankford Candy & Chocolate Factory is the only property in Philadelphia that Truong owned. It encompasses over 240,000 square feet of industrial and office space and could sell for up to $15 million, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. Since the site is zoned I-2, the factory could be redeveloped into residential use with commercial space.

Penn Center Philadelphia

Penn Center Philadelphia

Meanwhile, the 20-story office building sitting at 1515 Market Street was put on the market for around $85 million by a joint venture between Winthrop Realty Trust Inc. and Stockton Real Estate Advisors. Also known as Three Penn Center, the 502,000-square-foot structure was designed by Emery Roth & Sons and completed in 1958. It was the first in a corridor of office and retail buildings constructed in the 1950s over a blighted industrial site in what is now Philadelphia’s Central Business District.

The building is currently 87 percent leased and also features over 15,000 square feet of retail space. The list of tenants includes Temple University—which occupies almost 128,000 square feet of space through June 2022—as well as law firm Litchfield Cavo LLP and accounting firm Heffler, Radetich & Saitta LLP. According to the Journal, the real estate asset will be acquired by Accesso Partners, a full-service commercial real estate company based in Hallandale, Fla. JLL is representing the Winthrop/Stockton venture in the transaction.

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Images via Flickr, credits to authors inafreeland and  kjetil_r

Brandywine Teams Up with LCOR/CalSTRS to Build $140 Million Mixed-Use Tower in Center City

6 Nov 2014, 4:17 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Brandywine Realty Trust, the company behind the Cira Centre South development at 30thand Chestnut Streets, recently announced construction is imminent for a new mixed-use project in the heart of Philadelphia.

1919 Market Street Philadelphia

1919 Market Street Philadelphia

The developer entered an equal partnership with LCOR—the Berwyn-based investment, management and development company that was acquired by the California State Teacher’s Retirement System (CalSTRS) in a transaction valued at $820 million in May 2012.

“With LCOR’s experience developing transit-oriented communities, we understand and recognize the value of walkable, mixed-use projects, especially in a dynamic neighborhood such as Center City,” said Thomas O’Brien, president of LCOR. “Brandywine is a committed partner and we look forward to working with them on bringing this notable development to fruition, further enhancing the Philadelphia area which both LCOR and Brandywine call home,” he added.

According to an official statement by Brandywine, the 50/50 joint venture is now ready to break ground on a 29-story contemporary glass tower that will be located at 1919 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. Under this equal partnership, Brandywine has contributed the construction site, a 33,800-square-foot parcel that the company acquired for $9.3 million in January 2011, and has agreed to manage the project’s retail and parking spaces. Furthermore, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the development partners arranged to close on a $88.9 million loan to finance the $140 million project.

As previously reported by Multi-Housing News Online, Brandywine unveiled plans for the 455,000-square-foot mixed-use tower in mid-2013. An important addition to the vibrant Center City area, 1919 Market Street was designed by Barton Partners, while Hunter Roberts Construction Group will serve as the construction manager. Scheduled for completion by spring 2016, the building will include 321 luxury apartments with full concierge service and other high-end amenities such as a fitness center, a club room with demonstration kitchen, an outdoor roof garden with fire pit and ledge pool, and a fully equipped game room. Plans also call for a public garage with 215 parking spaces on the north side of the site. The project’s commercial component will include 24,000 square feet of space that will be leased by CVS and Independence Blue Cross (IBS), the Inquirer reports.

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Rendering courtesy of Brandywine Realty Trust


National Products Building Goes Residential, Keeps Historic Orange-Tiled Façade

23 Oct 2014, 4:46 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

National Products proposal project

National Products proposal project

After several redevelopment attempts that failed throughout the years since 2003, a group of developers plans to transform the block of six buildings located in Philadelphia’s historic Old City neighborhood between 2nd and Arch Street and within walking distance from one of the nation’s oldest blocks, Elfreth’s Alley.

The former National Products building—or simply The National—is known for its modern-style orange-tiled façade along N 2nd Street which was listed on the Register of Historic Places by the Philadelphia Historical Commission in 2002, while the building itself was designated as architecturally and culturally significant for the Old City Historic District one year later. The low-rise was completed in 1957 under conceptual plans by Sabatino & Fishman Architects and served as a food service equipment store until the 1990s, when it remained vacant.

As reported by PlanPlilly in a recent news story, the development group known as National Patriot LLC acquired the National Products building in 2012 for nearly $6.5 million. National Patriot got the green light from the city’s Planning Commission for a mixed-use apartment project that would replace the

National Products proposal project

National Products proposal project

dilapidated property but will maintain its distinct orange façade. Since the orange tile walls are in poor condition, the developers plan to dismantle the façade and then reconstruct the orange wall by using much of the salvaged tiles as well as adding new pieces.

According to project plans designed by Barton Architects, the old structures behind the orange tile wall will be demolished and replaced with a six-story residential building with public façades along N 2nd Street, Flagpole Park and Arch Street. The new structure will include around 180 apartments—significantly more than the 123-apartment proposal that was advanced by Havertown-based National East Associates in 2012.


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Renderings courtesy of Barton Architects via PlanPhilly

Apartment Building on Sansom Street Changes Ownership in $40 Million Transaction

9 Oct 2014, 6:55 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The Sansom - 1605 Sansom Street, Philadelphia

The Sansom – 1605 Sansom Street, Philadelphia

Roughly four months after paying nearly $29 million for the Oakwood Apartments, New York-based Pantzer Properties grabbed another residential building on the 1600 block of Sansom Street in the heart of Center City Philadelphia.

As reported by the Philadelphia Business Journal, Pantzer paid an estimated $40 million for the Sansom, an eight-story multifamily building located at 1605 Sansom Street, between the Hotel Palomar and the Oakwood Apartments. The acquisition was closed through Meridian Capital Group, which arranged a $31.5 million loan on behalf of Pantzer.

Completed in 2012 by Pearl properties and designed by DAS Architects, the Sansom is an infill development including 104 rental apartments in a combination of studios, one-, and two-bedroom units, as well as bike parking, a fitness center and street-level retail space occupied by Adolf Biecker Spa and Salon, and restaurants Abe Fisher and Dizengoff. According to a blog post by PhiladlephiaHeights, rents start at roughly $1,900 for a one-bedroom unit.

According to the Commercial Observer, the five-year loan was issued by Investors Bank and features a rate of 3.13 percent interest-only payments for the first two years, followed by an amortization schedule spanning 30 years.

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Image via Google Street View

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