Working at The Condo Shop office at 21st & Chestnut Streets, I am often looking out at the Sidney Hillman Medical Center, a senior medical center for former apparel manufacturing workers, on the corner of Chestnut and Van Pelt Streets. The building was built in the 1950’s by one of the garment worker unions that eventually became part of UNITE. The exterior has an unusual granite facade and a diagonal shape. Now, Chicago developer John Buck Company and UNITE have teamed up to demolish this building, across from my office at the Riverwest Condos in the 2100 block of Chestnut, and replace it with a gleaming, 34-storey, glass apartment tower. The new tower would have a new space for the Hillman Center and retail spaces along Chestnut Street.
The construction of this tower could start this year, as it has received approval from the city, and I recently saw a building permit attached to the gate in front of the Hillman Center. As many may know, it would be the first residential highrise to start construction in Center City in more than two years, since the super upscale 1706 Rittenhouse broke ground at 17th & Rittenhouse Square Streets. This new building would be among the first of several proposed buildings, some recent ideas and some proposed before the recession, which will be built in the coming years as the nation recovers from the recession. This building will be rentals, which are popular now in Center City, due to the difficulty of obtaining financing for condominiums and the fact that the vacancy rate for rentals in Center City is less than 2%. The vacancy rate for rentals went as high as 4.5% in 2009, which is almost unheard of in Center City. But as the economy recovers, rental vacancy in Center City clearly is getting back to normal.
The new tower, designed by Chicago firm Hartshorne & Plunkard Architects, will have 307 upscale apartments in 34 storeys. It will have retail, with likely a restaurant or two on Chestnut, that will enliven that end of the 2100 block. The total cost is about $100 million to build (including $10 million from the state – another sign it is likely to be built soon), and rents will likely be in the thousands per month, as is normal in Rittenhouse Square for new luxury rentals. It has been modified a bit from its original design. There was concern among the Unitarian Church across the street about losing sunlight through their stained glass windows, so the developers set the building back above the second floor to preserve sunlight. They, also, are providing a courtyard for use by the residents of the small historic buildings next door on 22nd Street.
The new tower will be a shiny new addition to the west Rittenhouse neighborhood and will be the start of the next round of highrise construction in Center City. If you are interested in renting, or buying or selling a home or investment property in Rittenhouse or any other neighborhood in the city, please contact me at Gabriel.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Long & Foster agent portal, here, or my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE. You can, also, learn more about our Long & Foster Philly Center City office, here. You can learn more from this article in the Philadelphia Business Journal.