Thursday, August 10, 2006

Under Construction in Philadelphia

No one with decent observation skills needed to read today's Inquirer story on the cooling housing market to know that there is more talk than actual construction on the streets of Philadelphia. And yet, a walk around town is a good way to take measure of which projects are moving along. Here's a random sampling of what I saw this morning:
HOME OFFICE: That sheet of plywood covering the 16th Street entrance to Two Liberty Place? A sure sign that the conversion of the upper floors to condos is underway. Convinced that Philadelphia's office market isn't going to rebound any time soon, the building's owners are making floors 37 to 57 into 140 condo apartments. To accomplish that, they need to create separate elevator lobbies for residents and office workers. Agoos/Lovera is overseeing the conversion in Liberty Place, which was the second act of the complex that broke the city's height barrier in 1990.
PHILLY MEET-UP: Meanwhile, on the other side of 16th Street, HRPT Properties is finally starting renovations of the dowdy, '70s Centre Square office towers. It's been more than a year since Daroff Design was hired to reconfigure the Clothespin plaza and spruce up the sprawling lobby and ground-floor retail spaces. HRPT bought the pair of flat-topped towers, designed in the Brutalist style by Vincent Kling's old firm, in 2002. When the company first announced changes to the front plaza - Philadelphia's signature meeting place - there was concern that the renovation was driven by a desire to reduce the corner's magnetic attraction to proselytizers and protesters - and that the result would be a lot like the recent fortification of the Urban Engineers plaza on 17th Street. While the owners plan to reverse the spiraling Septa staircase so the steps lead toward Market Street, rather than toward the building entrance, HRPT's regional manager Dave Campoli insists that Philadelphians will still be able to say, "Meet me at the Clothespin."
URBAN UNDERGROUND: As work picks up at the Murano site, at 21st and Market Street, you can make out a fascinating underground city of vestigial utilities, pipes and mysterious fortifications. The dirt-encrusted, cylindrical formations on the east side of the site look like something archaeologists might have uncovered at the Roman Forum.
COLOR CHANGE: It's funny how you get used to seeing the streets of Philadelphia fixed in amber, and then one day everything changes. So it is with the house of the late city planner, Edmund Bacon, on the 2000 block of Locust Street. For decades, the brick townhouse's black-and-yellow color scheme stood out as combatively as the man himself. Now, as part of a major renovation, the owners have stripped off the black paint. It's currently somewhere between bluish-gray and the original red. But I suspect it won't be long before the house blends decorously with the neighborhood, another reminder than Philly's Captain Ahab is no longer haunting the streets and coming up with grand planning schemes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The housing market's cooling, but we've got: the Murano being built and 140 units going into 2 Liberty; Turchi's "23" looks eerily empty, even though the sign says "available June 06"; Dennis Maloomian built his Edgewater to add another 250+ units; presumably the old School Board building can only make sense as another 150 condo units; Parkway's building "The Pearl" and the W; the Aria looks like it will never be complete; from the marketing effort, it doesn't look like symphony house is sold out; the 10 Rittenhouse looks like it might actually start construction before the winter.

What did I forget? Do I smell an oversupply coming on?

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the Ritz condos and the Western Union condos, both under construction?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't count the "W" until it's actually under construction.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the construction at the Ritz seems to be going very s-l-o-w-l-y. Also, haven't notice much advertising for the project lately.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you smell an oversupply?

You smell oversupply in any town thats worth its salt.

Wildwood island is a town that has a fulltime population of perhaps 10,000 people. There are currently 2,000 condos and houses for sale on that island.

Eventually the market will work itself out and Aria, 23, 2200 Lofts,and National e.g. will be completely sold out .

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

over supply, yes...but for a reason. with certain projects going forward that will eventually bring, (hopefully) more jobs, and so, more people to fill those spots.
IE: the Convention center expansion, the barnes museum, the Comcast HQ, not to mention expansions at most of the colleges in the area.
And as much as people think Gambling will change Philly, it will add jobs, but it will not turn us into Atlantic City.
not at 54% tax.

so let em build, and they will come...

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The folks above me mentioned only a few of the condo buildings that are for sale. Hundreds of smaller projects and scores of high end townhouses are being built in or near center city. All this within a city with an aenemic job creation track record. Imagine what could be if we only had a Mayor and city council that could devise a strategic plan to lure big & mid sized businesses in the city. Instead we have a bunch of hacks that like to line their pockets or their friends pockets with some grease. Because of a lack of vision by Mayor Street and his cronies we have a condo market bubble that may burst like a fire hydrant on a hot August night. City council is a gang of losers who have as much imagination as a bunch of sanitation workers. Two Liberty which is a trophy building is now being converted to condos (if it doesn't implode);DISGRACEFUL. I know why don't we have Bill Giles and the phillies org. run city gov't. They'd run it into the cellar.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the piker that made the last comment. If the truth hurts too much I suggest that you go get an IQ test because you are a "defacto" Moron. Someone that has no imagination or skills to get through life. In other words a loser!!

9:45 PM  
Blogger mhawf said...

Perhaps if the city reduced or got rid of the city wage tax... the people, corporations etc who have left to King of Prussia, Conchocken will move in to the city, not to mention those from outside of the area. With that said the tax money lost with the wage tax would be made up in density of people moving into the city who will be taxes along with all they comsume. ITS ALL ABOUT DENSITY. If the city creates programs that are advantageous to both large and small business owners, people will come into the city. Density creates community. Nothing is better for a business than making the most of one's time. The city creates close proximity to clients, and businesses that are needed to interface with... A bike messenger making a delivery in an hour way out does Over night Fed Ex anyday. Not to mention sweat output rather than fossil fuels etc etc.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you people thinking? Add to this oversupply the fantasy concoction that Venturi is postulating for the old Kennedy Vocational Center right next to the atrocity that Toll Brothers has jammed in every which way at the Naval Asylum...

Do you understand exactly what kind of jobs have to be created for these luxury units? Where are these $125,000 per year jobs to come from? Temporary construction jobs at the convention center - or $30k croupiers and kitchen help at a slots parlor? Will they buy the 4 million dollar condos at Symphony House?

It is not merely the huge oversupply, but the fact that NONE of it is affordable housing that is so appalling.

Please, Inga, let's have some facts and figures on the real total ...

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last anonymous gets it right... with out $100K plus jobs being injected into yhe local ecomomy the condo boom will freeze like an icicle hanging from a christmas tree!! However, I don't think any condo in a cheesy building like Symphony House is worth $4,000,000. Try the Murano or Mandeville Place if it is ever built. Remember ... Jobs..Jobs..Jobs.. for a healthy economy.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Bygningsentreprise said...

There's a lot of negative comment. But I hope that we will accept it because critism from others make us perfect. So accept what they are saying and we will learned from it.

6:03 AM  

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