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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.