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SugarHouse Casino Kicks Off $164 Million Expansion Project

24 Jul 2014, 2:23 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Almost four years after it celebrated its grand opening, the first casino to operate in Philadelphia broke ground on a long-planned $164 million expansion project that is expected to generate hundreds of new jobs and millions in economic benefits for the city.

SugarHouse Casino expansion project

SugarHouse Casino expansion project

Located at 1001 N. Delaware Avenue in the Fishtown neighborhood, SugarHouse Casino was built on the site of the former Jack Frost Sugar Refinery that was shut down in 1984. The 1,300,000-square-foot complex officially opened its doors for gamblers in September 2010 after years of delays caused by the economic decline and numerous community protests. At that time SugarHouse was the 10th casino to open in the state of Pennsylvania and was projected to become one of the most profitable entertainment venues in the country, making Philadelphia the largest US city to have a casino. The first phase of the project designed by Cope Linder Architects was completed in fall 2010 and included 1,600 slot machines and 40 table games, according to the Huffington Post which reported on the grand opening.

The new phase of construction is scheduled for completion in 2015. According to a press statement, the $164 million expansion will bring new amenities to the HSP Gaming-owned property. The expansion will encompass the entire north side of the current facility along North Delaware Avenue. As a result, the overall complex will more than double in size, reaching 250,000 square feet. Additionally, a seven-story parking garage with direct access to the gaming area will increase parking to 2,400 spaces, while the public river walk will increase to 2,250 feet of landscaped waterfront access and bike paths. The investment will also add new restaurant space as well as around 30,000 square feet of multi-purpose event space.

SugarHouse Casino expansion project

SugarHouse Casino expansion project

As for the gaming area at SugarHouse, casino representatives announced that they will build a $2.9 million poker room with 30 dedicated tables. This facility alone will generate an estimated $1.8 million in taxes to the city and the state and will create 100 new part-time and permanent jobs, with 80 percent of the positions being poker dealers. Because the new gambling facility is scheduled to become fully operational in 2015, the casino will open an interim 24-table poker room that will be open 24/7 to meet the city’s demand for poker.

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the SugarHouse Casino expansion project will create 1,600 construction jobs throughout the process. Once completed, the casino will add around 500 permanent jobs to its current staff of 1,100 people. In addition, the expanded gambling complex is expected to generate $1 million in annual contributions for the economic development of Fishtown and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The design plans for this expansion project were created by Cope Linder Architects, while Skanska USA will handle construction management and Philadelphia-based Keating Consulting will oversee development management.

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 Rendering courtesy of Cope Linder Architects

vXchnge to Open New Data Center at 1500 Spring Garden Street

16 Jul 2014, 6:42 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

1500 Spring Garden Street

1500 Spring Garden Street

Philadelphia is one of the densest cities in the U.S. according to official data, and the demand for data centers and interconnection services is on the rise as well. As a result, many data center-oriented companies are choosing Philadelphia in an attempt to meet the growing demand for colocation facilities.

One such company is vXchnge, a data center services company based in Tampa, Florida. vXchnge recently announced it will expand into Philadelphia by creating a state-of-the-art data center at 1500 Spring Garden Street, a mixed-use office building located between 15th and 16th Streets and Hamilton and Spring Garden Streets in Center City. The new facility is part of vXchnge’s strategy to create “Built for Performance” data centers in 15 markets to address localization issues for the cloud and service providers in the internet economy. Construction of the 70,000-square-foot data center has already begun, and vXchnge hopes to open the 1500 Spring Garden Street facility by mid-2015.

Built in phases starting in 1947, the 1.1 million-square-foot glass and concrete office tower served as the headquarters and manufacturing site for GlaxoSmithKline until the late 1990s, when the pharma company sold the asset to Amerimar Enterprises Inc. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that in early 2000s the new ownership invested $100 million to upgrade the 12-story building and redevelop it for office and telecommunications and data center use—thanks to the building’s location near Philadelphia’s major fiber-optic-cable routes—which pushed the occupancy up to nearly 80 percent at the time.

In November 2013 CoStar reported that the office tower at 1500 Spring Garden was acquired by a joint venture between The Nightingale Group and Carlton Associates, Inc. in a $184.5 million deal (or approximately $171 per square foot of space).

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Image via 1500 Spring Garden

94-Unit Residential Building to Rise on Empty Lot at 810 Arch Street

9 Jul 2014, 9:31 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

810 Arch Street - Philadelphia

810 Arch Street – Philadelphia

With the grand opening of the JBJ Soul Homes not too far in the past, a new affordable housing complex backed by Project H.O.M.E. is set to break ground this September. This time Project H.O.M.E.—a non-profit organization that provides housing, employment opportunities, and medical care to homeless and low-income persons in Philadelphia—teamed up with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) to revitalize a city-owned, empty site in the heart of the Chinatown.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the 0.5-acre lot that now looks like a missing tooth in the 800 block on the south side of Arch Street will be replaced by a much-needed rental apartment building that is also expected to enliven the pedestrian experience in the area. The private-public partnership will invest $23.5 million in this residential project, the source said.

Designed by Kramer Marks Architects and developed by McDonald Building Company, the 78,000-square-foot apartment building at 810 Arch Street is expected to be completed by late 2015. It will include 94 affordable housing units for low-income residents ranging from homeless elderly and adults to youth aging out of the child protection system. According to project details available on McDonald Building Company’s website, six floors will be fully residential, with 13 efficiency apartment units per floor, while two floors will hold eight efficiency apartments and amenity spaces such as administrative offices, exercise room, library with Wi-Fi access, a green roof and two terraces. The development project will also have 2,800 square feet of ground floor retail space along Arch Street.

According to the Inquirer, monthly rents at 810 Arch Street are expected to vary between $690 and $799. After completion, the residential building will seek LEED Silver certification by MaGrann Associates, a building consulting and engineering company specialized in energy efficiency and green building.

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Rendering courtesy of McDonald Building Company

Distressed Norris Apartments Housing Complex in North Philadelphia Receives $30 Million Revitalization Grant

2 Jul 2014, 8:24 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Four communities that are part of the “Choice Neighborhoods Initiative” kicked off July on a strong note. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced this week that it has awarded a combined $119.7 million to redevelop severely distressed neighborhoods in Columbus, OH, Norwalk, CT, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. According to a statement from HUD, the money will be used for the process of transforming, rehabilitating and preserving public housing and privately owned HUD-assisted housing.

City of Philadelphia - HUD

City of Philadelphia – HUD

Introduced in 2009 under the “White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative” and as a successor of the HOPE VI program, the “Choice Neighborhoods Initiative” started as a multi-million planning experiment that targeted poor neighborhoods and underdeveloped communities. One such community is located in the north-central section of Philadelphia and contains 147 low-income public housing units between Berks and Norris Streets near Temple University.

The $30 million grant awarded to the Norris Apartments community located at 2037 North 11th Street will bring a much-needed redevelopment of the building that was completed in the 1950s. An additional $125 million in a combination of federal, state, city and private investment is expected to support the revitalization effort in this section of Philadelphia. Furthermore, a $1 million donation from Temple University will support the creation of educational programs in the neighborhood, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Apart from the refurbished 147 apartments at the Norris Apartments site, the revitalization process will bring more than 150 units of affordable units and market-rate units on several vacant lots in the area. With work expected to start in six to nine months, the neighborhood revitalization project is estimated to generate around 600 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs over the following five years.

Originally proposed by the non-profit organization Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha (APM), the Norris Apartments revitalization project comes less than one year after the grand opening of the nearby Paseo Verde multifamily complex, the first housing development in the United States to receive LEED Platinum certification. A joint venture between APM and Jonathan Rose Companies, Paseo Verde was developed on a 1.9-acre brownfield at the corner of 9th and Berks Streets in the Temple University area that was decontaminated prior to construction. The project was seen as a veritable milestone in the renaissance of North Central Philadelphia, a largely distressed neighborhood with over 1,400 vacant and blighted properties that encouraged crime and slowed down private investments and economic development.

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Bon Jovi’s JBJ Soul Homes Project Officially Opens in Philadelphia, Receives ULI Award for Excellence

28 Jun 2014, 1:55 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

JBJ Soul Homes Philadelphia

JBJ Soul Homes Philadelphia

JBJ Soul Homes, one of the most advertised housing projects in Philadelphia, celebrated its grand opening earlier this spring. Located on a 0.5-acre triangular block in the neighborhood of Francisville, the development was backed by musician Jon Bon Jovi’s Project H.O.M.E. program that offers subsidized supportive housing for low-income and formerly homeless individuals and families.

As previously reported by Multi-Housing News Online, JBJ Soul Homes broke ground in Fall 2012 and was designed by architecture firm Kitchen and Associates to achieve LEED Silver certification. Financed through a mix of public and private donations coming from the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, the Middleton Housing Partnership, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), FHL Bank Pittsburgh and the City of Philadelphia, the $20 million project located at the intersection of North Broad Street and Fairmount and

JBJ Soul Homes Philadelphia - side view

JBJ Soul Homes Philadelphia – side view

Ridge Avenues—three major arteries in Philadelphia—offers 55 fully furnished units of permanent, supportive housing for adults. The four-story structure also includes nearly 12,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, 5,500 square feet of administrative offices and suites for supportive services, as well as shared community spaces, storage facilities, computer lab and laundry room. The complex also contains 20 parking spaces available for both residents and Project H.O.M.E. staff members.

Shortly after the official opening, JBJ Soul Homes was among the nine winners of the first ever Urban Land Institute Philadelphia (ULI Philadelphia) Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence. According to an official statement, ULI Philadelphia received 57 nominations of projects in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware which were completed within the last five years, with a number of 28 projects selected as finalists. The project developed by McDonald Building Company was particularly praised for its strong integration of “community mission, living space and supportive amenities.”


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Images courtesy of Project H.O.M.E.

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