Those who have visited the Comcast Center since it opened (and who hasn’t, really) know that it is in the middle of a very modern architectural realm. The large Market Street/JFK Boulevard business district was once the site of the largest rail yard in the world, the rail yard for Broad Street Station (later Suburban Station) that occupied the north side of Market Street West up to Arch Street. This rail yard was demolished in the 1950’s (unfortunately with the fire-damaged Suburban Station) and slowly replaced with the progressively taller, modern office buildings that you see today. There were a few older buildings along Arch Street that had survived the rail yard’s expansion and the area’s 1950’s era demolition spree. One of those buildings was the beautiful Robert Morris Building, named after the founding father and early American businessman, Robert Morris.
The Robert Morris Building is an incredible and detailed example of early 20th century Gothic architecture. It was built as a hotel in 1914, by a hotelier named Rutherford Jennings, and was later used as a dormitory and academic building by the Philadelphia College of the Bible. It, eventually, was used as an office building until 2007, when 806 Capital bought it and emptied it out to be converted into a hotel again. That plan fell through in the recession, so 806 Capital, with financing from PNC Bank and Federal Capital Partners, of Washington, D.C., decided to convert it into upscale apartments instead.
The building, which is fourteen storeys, will be converted into 111 luxury apartments, which have had strong demand in Center City. The building will, also, have a gym and media center. There will be retail on the first floor, but it hasn’t been determined what will go there. I think at least one restaurant is very likely; the Comcast Center has the five-star Table 31 across the street. This building is one of about half a dozen projects on that stretch of Arch Street that will add new retail, likely making Arch Street another restaurant row and, perhaps, one of the major shopping streets of the city.
The renovation is well underway and will likely be finished sometime next year. As I’ve mentioned, the sheer number of development projects on Arch Street, and the new developments and public space improvements up and down the Ben Franklin Parkway, will continue to create demand and healthy property value increases in this part of Center City. If you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in this area, the you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Facebook realtor page at Gabriel G. Philly Realtor. You can, also, check out The Condo Shop website here or at www.thecondoshops.com, or come to my office nearby at the Riverwest Condos, at 21st & Chestnut Streets, or our Condo Shop office at CityView Condominiums, on Hamilton Street, just off of 20th Street.