Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year, New Doubts about Projects

Now that we're rested and clear-eyed again, we can start the New Year by recalculating the odds for the Philadelphia projects still on the boards. The New York Times ran a story the day after Christmas reporting that $5 billion worth of Big Apple construction has been delayed or cancelled. In Philadelphia, it's been evident for awhile that any project not already in the ground is dead, save perhaps for a couple of well-placed hotels hoping to benefit from the state-funded convention center expansion.

One of the lucky ones seemed to be ARCWheeler's sloping glass hotel tower next to the Boyd Theater. His development plan is deeply thought out and he has identified multiple sources of funding (see earlier post). But word came last week from Howard Haas at the Friends of Boyd that the developer has again decided to postpone the real estate closing for the theater and adjacent parking lot site, this time from January to February. Obtaining financing has got to be tough these days. PlanPhilly has a list of other projects it considers up in the air: Stamper Square, 1600 Vine Street, PhillyLive. Of course, you may want to add a couple of other highly speculative ventures, like the American Commerce Center and the Waldorf-Astoria South to the list.

There are, however, a few projects that may actually gain momentum from the country's deepening economic turmoil and the Obama administration's planned infrastructure investments. When the nation's governors met in Philadelphia recently to discuss priorities, they gave high importance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art's $500 million expansion plan. Alas, the feds wouldn't fund the snazzy new underground galleries, which are being designed by Frank Gehry. But according to museum officials, they might be able tap into the infrastructure pot to redo the art temple's ancient heating, ventilation and wiring systems. They might also be able to build a desperately needed, new loading dock, so they would no longer have to accept art deliveries in the same bays where they put out the trash. Not sexy stuff, but it would make the Gehry galleries more doable.


Anonymous Carlos said...

Why does Philadelphia spend so much money for unassuming buildings? The Kimmel Center on the outside (except for the glass roof) looks like a suburban high school. And to spend $500 million for underground galleries at the Art Museum does't make sense. Use the money for a spectacular landmark building at another nearby site.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not come right out and say that the American Commerce Center is designed in the shape of a diabetic's lancet and refers in meaning and murderous intent directly to the 975-foot Comcast Tower whose height record it would displace? Why not tell the truth? The six million people who'd have to live with the building deserve no less.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Are Art deliveries only once a weekly like trash pick up?

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Howard B Haas said...

Friends of the Boyd, Inc. appreciate Inga's ongoing coverage of the Boyd Theatre. We believe that Hal Wheeler will proceed to acquire the historic movie palace, restore it, and combo it with a hotel he will build. Major projects take time...

Friends of the Boyd send out a free Weekly Update email. To receive it, enter your contact information at at our website,

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Richard Bloom - you are an IDIOT ! Shut UP ! you have nothing to say. To Howard B. Hass - you are right to commend Inga but, no project should take so long ! The Boyd should have been preserved and restored long ago, when Sameric owned it.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like the ever increasing cost of building material forces budget cuts that make most new architectural projects look cheap. At the same time, every developer wants to make a statement, so the projects are bigger, grander and higher profile. The result - dull architecture.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been wondering why Wheeler's condo project on Rittenhouse Square hasn't topped out yet. Is it the weather or is he out of money on that one too?

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has 'TOPPED OUT" two months ago. Where have you been ? There were several announcements in the papers. Have you even noticed that construction is ongoing, as they are placing the facade and most likely,installing the internal mechanics of the building. As I understand, the building is 65% sold. Not bad for someone running out of money. Why is no-one addressing the the actual blog posting ?

7:21 PM  

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