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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

Wistar’s $100 Million Biomedical Research Tower Opens in University City

3 Oct 2014, 4:37 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Wistar Institute - Robert and Penny Fox Tower - Philadelphia

Wistar Institute – Robert and Penny Fox Tower – Philadelphia

Last month the Wistar Institute, an independent biomedical research center, hosted a grand opening gala to celebrate its new research laboratory in the heart of Philadelphia’s University City district.

The Robert and Penny Fox Tower, which was named in honor of two of the institute’s most loyal and generous donors, is located at 3601 Spruce Street and was built on a 1.7-acre site owned by the institute. Construction at the seven-story building started in September 2011 under plans by Ballinger Architects of Philadelphia. Designed to unite the entire Wistar campus, the $100 million facility is connected to the institute’s original building completed in 1894 (the East Building) and the recently renovated 1975 Cancer Research Building (the West Building).

At 89,700 square feet, the Robert and Penny Fox Tower offers five floors of new laboratory space, increasing Wistar Institute’s total number of labs from 30 to 40, as well as a 200-seat auditorium and open public spaces. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Wistar currently employs around 180 doctorate-level researchers and scientists working on cancer research, vaccine development and genetics.

Wistar Institute - Robert and Penny Fox Tower entrance - Philadelphia

Wistar Institute – Robert and Penny Fox Tower entrance – Philadelphia

With the new biomedical research facility Wistar Institute plans to adopt a “team science” approach that will spark scientific innovation and optimal results. “No longer is a laboratory simply a room where individual researchers toil at their benches,” said Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., Wistar president and CEO. “Science today requires space and infrastructure to foster open communication, to provide opportunities for researchers from widely different sets of knowledge and expertise to collaborate in order to tackle the scientific challenges of tomorrow,” he added.

L.F. Driscoll Company, LLC, of Bala Cynwyd served as construction manager for the expansion and renovation of 3601 Spruce Street. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the project was funded with $18 million in grants from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, $55 million from Citizens Bank, and $25 million from a $35 million fund raising campaign led by Robert and Penny Fox.

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Images via Ballinger Architects and Wistar Institute

$42.5 Million Community Center Brings Healthcare Services, Literacy and Recreation Under One Roof

24 Sep 2014, 7:37 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Starting in 2016, Philadelphia will have a new community health and literacy center located on a full city block at the intersection of Broad and Morris Streets.

CHOP Community Health and Literacy Center - Philadelphia

CHOP Community Health and Literacy Center – Philadelphia

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and city officials officially broke ground on a new facility that will bring together healthcare services for children and adults, a recreation center and a library. Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the 1.6-acre construction site extending from Broad Street to 15Th Street and from Morris Street to castle Avenue is owned by the city and will be leased to CHOP for a small fee.

Projected to become a model of public and private collaboration, the $42.5 million facility is also expected to draw additional investment opportunities in South Philadelphia. As such, the city has already invested $2.2 million to help CHOP build the facility, while another $8 million in New Markets Tax Credits was awarded earlier this month by Commonwealth Cornerstone Group, a community development entity (CDE) of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. An additional $22.5 million in tax credits was provided by three other CDEs, according to an official statement from the Pennsylvania Office of the Governor.

The 96,000-square-foot Community Health and Literacy Center building is targeted to achieve LEED Silver certification. It was designed by VSBA Architects and Planners and will be constructed by Perryman Building and Construction Services, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

When completed, the three-story facility at 1700 South Broad Street will house CHOP’s Care Network Primary Care’s offices in South Philadelphia, which will take over 22,000 square feet in the building. The city’s Health Center 2 will move from its temporary location at the former St. Agnes Hospital and will occupy nearly 30,000 square feet of space in the new community center, while the South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library will be located on the first floor and, according to the Inquirer, will employ at least one staff member with a healthcare specialty. The DiSilvestro Recreation Center, which used to occupy only 1,600 square feet at 1701 South 15th Street, will double its capacity and expand its existing programs once it moves into CHOP’s new community center.

According to the governor’s office, the development project is expected to have a total economic impact of more than $47 million for the Philadelphia region. It will create more than 230 temporary construction jobs during the construction period and five permanent jobs once completed in December 2015.

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Rendering credits: VSBA Architects and Planner

Franklin Mills Mall Changes Name to Philadelphia Mills, Starts Year-Long Renovations

19 Sep 2014, 1:01 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Philadelphia Mills mall - main entrance

Philadelphia Mills mall – main entrance

Franklin Mills, Greater Philadelphia’s largest retail destination after King of Prussia, is getting a facelift and a new name as part of a multi-million dollar renovation, the mall’s owner announced recently.

Dubbed “the mall of them all” when it opened in May 1989, Franklin Mills has rapidly grown into a veritable shopping mecca, employing more than 2,500 residents in the Philadelphia area and generating millions of dollars in yearly revenues for the city. Located at 1455 Franklin Mills Circle, at the intersection of Woodhaven Road/Pennsylvania State Route 63 and Knights Road in Northeast Philadelphia, the 1.8-million-square-foot mall includes more than 200 stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nike Factory Store and Ann Taylor Factory Store. It is divided into four neighborhoods: Red, Blue, Yellow and Green and has six main entries. A new Super Walmart store which is scheduled to open by end of September will add nearly 180,000 square feet to the shopping venue.

According to Simon Property Group, the Indianapolis-based company that acquired the mall in 2007, Franklin Mills has already been renamed Philadelphia Mills to announce the multimillion renovation project. “This center has served the shopping and entertainment needs of the Philadelphia region for more than 25 years, and we are excited to continue

Philadelphia Mills Mall - interior rendering

Philadelphia Mills Mall – interior rendering

meeting those needs while elevating the experience for our customers and visitors,” said in a press release Gregg Goodman, president of The Mills.

Construction is already underway on exterior renovations of the mall and work is expected to be completed this fall. As for interior renovations, work is scheduled to begin in early 2015, with the mall’s grand re-opening celebration slated for fall 2015. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, renovations at Philadelphia Mills will include new landscaping, improved skylights, lighting and floors, new lounge areas, and the addition of tech amenities such as WiFi and device-charging stations.


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Renderings via Philadelphia Mills

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