Wednesday, December 19, 2007

1706 Rittenhouse Condos: Dig They Must

If it seems like years since the developers of 1706 Rittenhouse began running ads in the New Yorker for their 29-unit luxury condo tower on 17th Street - it's because they have. But judging by the machines that have been pushing dirt around the tiny site near Rittenhouse Square, they may be ready finally to start building the slim, 31-story tower designed by David Ertz of Cope Linder Architects.
Developer Tom Scannapieco, who partnered with the site's owner - Philadelphia parking king Joe Zuritsky - will only say that the crews were summoned to the site to shore up the wall of the neighboring townhouse. Over the next few weeks, soldier piles will be sunk into the ground to underpin the wall and prevent collapse. The developers own the house and will use it as a future sales office.
Judging from this model photograph, the design looks pretty much the same as it did in 2006, when Mayor Street personally intervened to settle a zoning dispute with the neighbors at 250 s. 17th Street. As a result of those talks the tower was pushed back 33 feet from the sidewalk line to preserve the neighbors' views, creating what will be a private forecourt and - unfortunately for the rest of us - a gap-toothed sidewalk line along 17th Street.
What you don't see is that the back of the tower will cantilever slightly over the townhouse. As I wrote in February 2006, it will look like the tower is"squashing the house like a bug."
Don't be surprised if the developers formally green-light this understated, but very elegant, tower, which features full-floor units starting around $3 million.
Although the condo market is slumping in lots of places, including Philadelphia, developers say there is still demand for high-end units in prime spots. Rittenhouse Square, and a few waterfront locations, like Locust Point on the Schuylkill River, have continued to sell. No wonder Castleway Properties is moving steadily ahead with its hotel-condo project on the square, which I discussed in a column this month. The developers will present the project at a meeting sponsored by the Center City Residents Association on Jan. 10 at 7 p.m, in the Lutheran Church at 21st and Chestnut Streets.


Anonymous Davis said...

I'm not convinced a thirty foot setback is necessarily a gap-toothed look. The Comcast center shows how -some- open spaces can work well in what can become a too boxy and canyon like environment. What's unfortunate is how the west side will look hanging over that poor house.

It's a decent design as far as one can see and I suspect the neighbors to the south will benefit from having this open space before them as well.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Frank Lloyd Wrong said...

Understated? Elegant? How are highlighted floor slabs and an uninspiring window wall system either understated or elegant? I have certainly seen more obnoxious residential towers in the last few years, but something being benign at best, does not make it a fine specimen of design. It looks like Inga is still well-meaning, yet mesmerized by some pretty banal design.

2:03 PM  

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