Large new apartment development on Market Street West

Market Street West is the heart of the city’s corporate community, with the largest and tallest office buildings either on, or adjacent to, the thoroughfare.  The stretch of Market, from City Hall to 22nd Street, is like a canyon flanked by walls of glass, granite and concrete.  In recent years, the blocks between 20th & 23rd Streets, and adjacent blocks, have seen new residential development.  First there was the 2121 Market Street building, a former tuxedo factory that was renovated into rental apartments.  Then, two other former industrial buildings, adjacent to Market, were renovated into condos: 23 South 23rd Street and 2200 Arch Street (renovated by my former Temple real estate professor Jonathan Orens and his brothers).  All three were quickly successful.  Then, the huge, 43-storey tall Murano condominium tower was built a few years ago.  After a slow start due to the economy, the Murano is now 75% sold out and patio furniture can be seen almost all the way to the top on the western facing balconies.  Now, developer Ron Caplan, and his company PMC Properties, are developing the property at 2040 Market Street into high-end rental apartments.

2040 Market was the former mid-Atlantic headquarters for AAA.  When they moved to Wilmington, Delaware, the building was left vacant and has been for several years.  It was owned briefly by the megalomaniacally-named company World Acquisition Partners, who proposed adding supporting columns to convert the building into a 53-storey condo tower.  World Acquisition Partners proposed several large developments that didn’t get close to being built, so 2040 Market was eventually sold to PMC and Caplan.  The building, built in the late 1970s, has an unusual design for Market Street.  It is only five storeys and the second floor cantilevers over a garden surrounded by a wall along the sidewalk, much like a suburban office building.  The first floor has large windows and had the AAA service center inside.  It was designed to have additional floors built on top of it, because it was always intended to be a bigger building.

So, PMC plans to build eight additional storeys on top of the original building to, of course, make it a 13-storey building.  But, PMC won’t stop there.  They plan to build two additional, 13-storey wings onto the back of the building, along Ludlow Street.  The overall plan, designed by Steven Varenhorst Architects (the same firm that designed the apartment building about to be built on the southwest corner of 19th & Arch Streets),  will have 275 high-end rental apartments, 32 of which will be two bedroom apartments, at the request of the Center City Residents Association, and it will increase the size of the building from 120,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet.  The facade of the original building will be clad with panels that will create bunches of windows, rather than the seamless ribbon of windows it currently has.  All parking will be underground, some of it in the existing building, and some of it under the new additions.  There will be two entrances to the underground parking, one on Ludlow and one, that apparently couldn’t be avoided, on Market.  At the Planning Commission meeting, the only concern about the whole project was left turns on Market Street, into the parking garage.  I’m sure they’ll figure something out. And, the loading dock for the retail will be on Ludlow.

The retail in the building could be very significant.  The wall and garden, along the sidewalk, will be removed.  The entrance to the retail will be on the corners, and the wall will be replaced with a series of bay windows and alcoves on 21st & Market Streets.  There will be at least one large restaurant, so the alcoves will be perfect for outdoor seating, a first on the sidewalk of Market Street West.  The developers say they want to have that kind of outdoor seating.  The retail space could, also, be perfect for some kind of use that requires a lot of space, such as a furniture store or car showroom.  There will, also, be a small courtyard on Ludlow Street, again at the request of the Center City Residents Association.

The developers will begin construction in September.  That’s the same month as the new 34-storey apartment building, being built by the John Buck Company, on the 2100 block of Chestnut Street and the previously mentioned 14-storey apartment building on the southwest corner of 19th & Arch.  Altogether, these buildings will add some 800 to 900 new luxury rentals to the neighborhood, and add fancy new retail (mostly restaurants), while redeveloping currently blighted properties.  This will likely bring new retail to the largely empty retail spaces on Market from 20th to 23rd Streets and encourage major new development on these blocks of Market.  This is significant for me as a real estate agent because my office is located at 21st & Chestnut Streets, right around the corner from 2040 Market and across the street from the John Buck Company tower site.  My office faces Chestnut Street and I’m excited to see how these new developments will change the neighborhood.  My office is in the Riverwest Condominiums, which has 400 condos, many for rent.  The prices in Riverwest range from about $150,000 for small studios to $299,000 for two bedrooms.  The condos rent for $950 for studios (including a 437 square foot, 16th floor studio for $1,150 that I have available for rent right now) to $2,000 for two bedrooms.  These are definitely the lowest prices, and lowest rental rates for condos, in Rittenhouse.  Adding two new high-end apartment buildings, with fancy new retail to the immediate neighborhood, will likely add to property values and home prices in coming years, including at Riverwest.  If you are interested in the apartment that I have for rent, or if you need help in buying or selling a condo or townhouse in Rittenhouse, you can send me an email at gabriel@thecondoshops.com and sign onto my Facebook realtor page at Gabriel G. Philly Realtor.  And you can check out The Condo Shop website at www.thecondoshops.com.  I have pictures, below, of the 2040 Market site and the model of the renovation and expansion of it, from Steven Varenhorst Architects, that was shown at the Planning Commission meeting recently.  And you can check out this video, by PlanPhilly, of the presentation to the Planning Commission a few weeks ago.

The model showing 2040 Market from across Market Street

The model, from the Ludlow Street side

The model, from a distance, shows the surrounding buildings on Market Street

2040 Market, as it is today, seen from 21st & Market Streets

Retail space at the corner, with the wall and fallow garden, and second floor cantilevered above

Sign announcing the new development

Back of the building shows Ludlow Street, which has a small parking lot and more of the wall

This parking lot will be replaced with two new additions to the building

Construction on the entrance to the parking garage has already begun

Looking east down Market Street, from 21st Street

Looking south down 21st Street, with the Riverwest Condos a block down on the right

Looking up at the Murano condo tower, which is catercorner to 2040 Market and currently has empty retail spaces

Riverwest condominiums, @ 21st & Chestnut, one block from 2040 Market

My Condo Shop office, @ the Riverwest Condos, at 21st & Chestnut Streets

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About gabrielcgottlieb

I am a real estate agent at Long & Foster Real Estate Center City and someone who likes to write about development and urban planning in the City of Philadelphia. Contact me at Gabriel.gottlieb@LNF.com if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in Philadelphia.
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5 Responses to Large new apartment development on Market Street West

  1. Chris Miles says:

    Great Piece-

    That’s great news about the AAA building. I was frustrated that they took the HQ employees and AAA retail office at the same time. Philly should at some point look into why it lost both Amtrak and AAA to Wilmington…

    Since you represent properties in the area, any hoping of getting rid of “porno row” at 22nd?

    I don’t understand how an area that is trying to be family friendly still tolerates that stuff- grandfathered or no- that adult stuff should have been moved down to our “Little Vegas” waterfront a long time ago.

    Also- any news on the Big parking lot on the North side of Market there. Seems like a better use can be found than just convenient parking for PECO workers.

    • AAA is the only major office tenant to leave the city in about 15 years, without some sort of merger with an out-of-town corporation. A few years ago, a bunch of corporate tenants had leases expiring, and they all stayed except AAA, which isn’t much of a loss in my opinion.

      As far as the porn stores, I really don’t mind them. I’ve never seen people hanging out in front of them or heard about any crime inside or out. And, I used to live nearby and had a night job; the bus used to stop right there at 3AM and still there were never drug users or prostitutes (usually the same) in front of those places. As long as there is no crime or addicts and criminals hanging out in front, then I don’t care about places like that. Hey, it’s not Utah here. If more people live in the neighborhood, then the empty stores will fill up, and the porn stores won’t stand out much anyway, kind of like 13th Street.

      I haven’t heard anything about the big parking lot at 22nd & Market recently. I know that PECO owns it and had tried to get a developer to buy it. Some developer considered buying it and had a rendering for a large project about 10 years ago, but that didn’t happen. I guess it’s another thing that will have to wait until other developments nearby are finished and improve the neighborhood to create enough demand for a big project.

      • Chris Miles says:

        Thanks for the positive info. Was concerned that AAA was some sort of canary in the coal mine.

        Must disagree about the Adult stuff, only cause of proximity to Greenfield, etc- I am not advocating Utah type morality for all areas of Philadelphia. (Although it’s still a strong Catholic Quaker influenced town!) That’s why I mentioned moving some things to our little Vegas by the river. Zoned “Adult, light commercial” I.E. If you have to get there by car, generally, it’s assumed that you’re old enough to be there.

        Some recent background on why I asked the question in reference to your article about new construction in that area- I assumed the following linked issues were being worked on.

        http://articles.philly.com/2010-08-13/news/24970514_1_zoning-board-forum-theater-attorney

        And the CCRA did, at one time, try and make the case for this stuff to be moved to a more remote locale (although this seems a heavy handed approach) :

        http://legislation.phila.gov/attachments/10572.pdf

        Anyhow I’m glad to see real progress in that area. Anything that brings more long term residents to Market West making the area more walk-able, livable and shoppable.

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