At the Planning Commission meeting a couple of weeks ago, Liberty Property Trust unveiled plans for a new highrise office tower on top of the garage at the southwest corner of 8th & Walnut Streets. Liberty Property is, of course, the developers of Liberty Place and the Comcast Center. This new tower won’t be as tall as those, however. It will be a twelve-storey building built on top of the garage that runs along the south side of the 800 block of Walnut Street. That garage was built in the 1980s and was intended to have highrises built on top of it. The top of this tower will be 260 feet above the ground, about the height of a twenty-storey building.
The building, being designed by Ballinger, will be known as the “Liberty Parkway Tower” and will be leased to Pennsylvania Hospital, which is owned and operated by the University of Pennsylvania Health System. It is, however, a private commercial building and can be leased to a private company if Pennsylvania Hospital were to vacate all or part of the space. It will have a total of 153,000 square feet and will cost $40 million to build. The design will have a glass facade that will extend all the way down to the ground on the Walnut Street side, thus giving the impression that the building begins at the ground level. It will, also, have a cantilever at the second floor extending five feet over the sidewalk on 8th Street. The lobby will be at the corner, and a 711 there will have to move next door to an empty retail space on Walnut Street. It will, also, have green features, such as a green roof. Because of the height and the cantilever over 8th Street, the site will have to be rezoned from C4 to C5.
I used to live around the corner from the site. It sits across 8th Street from the St. James apartment building, the tallest building east of Broad Street. I watched over the years as they built that and the new Will’s Eye Hospital on the garage at 9th & Walnut Streets. Now, the area will have another highrise, and there are plans to eventually build a senior apartment building next to the Walnut Street Theatre, with an additional stage inside, that would be about as tall as the St. James and Thomas Jefferson University is building a nine-storey academic building on the northwest corner of 9th & Walnut. Obviously, that area is becoming one of the more highrise areas of Center City.
You can check out pictures from the Planning Commission meeting of the building and pictures that I took of the site and area, below and read this article on PlanPhilly’s website, here.