At the Planning Commission meeting this past Tuesday, there was an interesting new proposal for a highrise at 19th & Arch Streets. It’s not the previously proposed American Commerce Center at the same intersection, but a nice proposal that would compliment that super tall tower, and perhaps make that more likely to come to fruition. This development was presented as an information only presentation, meaning the Planning Commission isn’t voting yet to approve or deny the project. That would likely happen, though, in the next couple months and the developers are hoping to break ground as early as this April.
The proposal, by developer Eric Blumenfeld and designed by Stephen Varenhorst Architects, would put a 14-storey residential building at the southwest corner of 19th & Arch. The building would have 236 rental apartments, two large restaurant spaces totaling 8,000 square feet, 10,600 sq. ft. of office space on the entire second floor, and underground parking. It would also have a courtyard facing 19th Street of 5,200 sq. ft. that would be open to the public and flanked by the two restaurants, and a smaller courtyard of 4,800 sq. ft. on the other side of the building for the tenants. The entrance to the apartment building would be on Arch Street, with parking entry also on Arch Street and a loading dock on Cuthbert Street on the south side of the building.
What’s interesting about the design is the tiered roofline for the various components. The building has three block segments. The largest one is the 14-storey segment on Arch that would be a rectangular tower running east to west. A 12-storey segment would sit behind that running north to south, just west of the public courtyard. Then a thin 6-storey segment would run along Cuthbert Street. Those who know the neighborhood, and this site, would know that this is a way to preserve the views and sightlines of the residents of the large Kennedy House condominium building to the south, of this building, on Cuthbert. The 12-storey segment is 99 feet from the north side of the Kennedy House, and the 14-storey segment is 164 feet away, in order to accomplish this.
As I mentioned earlier, this development would be across the street from the proposed American Commerce Center, a mixed-use development with a 1.5 million sq. ft., 1,500 foot tall office tower, a 400 foot tall hotel, and a major shopping center and movie theater. The development would bring upscale apartments and equally upscale restaurants to this intersection, which would add to the burgeoning street life on Arch, and help make the American Commerce Center (or AmeriCom Center, as I like to call it) a reality. I can someday imagine a large new wing of the Academy of Natural Sciences on the northwest corner of 19th & Arch, which would tie together the west of Broad business district with the Parkway museums district in an incredible way unique to Philadelphia. This new mixed-use tower on the southwest corner is one important piece of that connection.
You can look at pictures I took of the model at the Planning Commission meeting above and below. The model was great to look at, and I observed that if they had a model of the AmeriCom Center next to it, it would literally poke the ceiling tiles in the meeting room! 🙂