Another highrise luxury apartment tower is soon to break ground in Center City, at 1919 Market Street, on the corner of 20th & Market Streets. This new tower is on the site of a conspicuous lawn right in the middle of Center City’s largest and tallest office corridor. The site is next to the Independence Blue Cross Tower and was originally supposed to have a twin building on it, but that did not happen. A developer wanted to build a condo tower there a few years ago, but that didn’t work out either, so the site was bought by Brandywine Realty Trust, developers of the Cira Centre South development that includes Evo at Cira Centre South, at 30th and Chestnut Streets, that I wrote about a few months ago. Brandywine has been building office and residential space, in Center City and University City, after buying up several Center City office buildings.
This new tower, designed by Barton Partners and called simply enough, 1919 Market Street, will be 28 storeys and 367 feet tall, a respectable height in this highrise neighborhood on the border of Rittenhouse Square and Logan Circle (or Logan Square, if you will). It will contain 278 upscale apartment units, intended for the many workers that would be within walking distance of the large corporate office district surrounding it (and the trolleys to West Philadelphia, which connect for free to the Market/Frankford line and the Broad Street subway, and to the regional rail lines at 30th Street Station and Suburban Station, are just outside at their 19th Street Station). The entire first floor will have retail space (except for the lobby, of course) and the second floor will have office space, that could also be used for additional retail space if there is enough demand. The commercial space will total approximately 25,000 square feet on both floors. The third and fourth floors will have bi-level loft apartments facing Market Street. There will be 223 parking spaces in a five-storey garage, north of the building on Commerce Street, and 108 bike storage spaces. The parking garage will, also, have retail on 20th Street and there will be retail, and the entrance to the office space, on a renovated plaza across from the Independence Blue Cross Tower at the eastern end of the building, that will be a focal point with outdoor seating. The entrance to the residences will, also, be on the eastern end along Market Street, with a large sign on the overhang saying “1919“.
There will be twelve units per floor, above the fourth floor, except for the top three floors, which will have larger penthouses on the 26th & 27th floors and an amenities floor on the very top. The amenities floor will be set back, on the south and west, and the outdoor space will be used for a landscaped plaza and an outdoor pool. The apartments will range from studios to two bedrooms, and the corner units will have noticeable balconies. The exterior will have metal panels and lots of glass. The lower floors will have a tinted, darker glass above the retail and the bulk of the tower will have multi-colored glass window panels. The glass panels will have a random pattern and come in four colors: blue, green, light gray, and silver. The penthouse floors will have overhangs that protrude a bit from the structure, approximately 350 feet above the street. The parking garage will be hidden behind glass and louvers. The developers hope to obtain LEED Silver certification for the tower, with features such as Energy Star appliances, low-flow showers, energy-efficient lighting and mechanical systems, and storm water management.
1919 Market received approval from the Planning Commission’s Civic Design Review Board at their meeting on Tuesday, August 7 and approval from the full Planning Commission, at their August 20th meeting, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment on September 10. The Civic Design Review Board meeting is the preliminary Planning Commission meeting where they spoil the fun of large new developments with nit-picking complaints, and you hear lots of those tiresome whiny and pretentious comments about Philadelphia. With 1919 Market there was much discussion about the above ground parking garage. The developers insisted that the ground was too difficult to dig and the project would be economically infeasible, but some commissioners were skeptical and afraid of setting a precedent by granting a special exemption under the new zoning code, which prohibits above ground parking outside of flood plains. I mentioned, in audience comments, that whether or not underground parking was economically infeasible, that the side of the block at 20th & Commerce Streets would get no sunlight at all once the new tower is built and that would make it undesirable as a courtyard and hard to rent, at a high rate, for apartments or office space, anyway. When the Civic Design Review Board approved 1919 Market, they decided that it was time to set up guidelines for these special exemptions for building above ground parking. The commissioners felt that in order for developers to be allowed to build above ground parking in the future, they must have proof that it is geographically impossible or economically infeasible, not just the developers’ own testimony. Anyway, the approval by the Planning Commission and Zoning Board allows construction to begin soon. There are, already, construction permits on the fence at the site.
This new tower will add a prominent addition to Market Street. It will specifically add to the glass “street wall” along Market Street, and because of a slight bend in 20th Street, it will look as if it extends into the middle of the street looking from the south up 20th Street. It is another residential addition in a neighborhood that used to be almost entirely office space, with little retail or nighttime activity. Just to the west is The Murano Condominiums, 2121 Market Street rentals, 2040 Market Street rentals, and 23 Condominiums, all fairly recent residential developments. Cira Centre and a proposed highrise residential tower on top of the Marketplace Design Center, on Market Street, will add more apartments along the developing Schuylkill River waterfront. To the south is busy Rittenhouse Square (and Rittenhouse Square Park, a few blocks south), which has much retail and nightlife along Walnut Street and, increasingly, Chestnut and Sansom Streets. Several new developments are adding more residential units closer to Market Street, including 10 Rittenhouse; at 18th & Walnut Streets, 2116 Chestnut Street, and 2021 Chestnut Street. To the east are the largest and tallest office buildings in the city, such as Liberty Place and the Comcast Center, and new residential developments like The Arch; at 17th & Arch Streets, The Residences at Two Liberty Place, and The Residences at The Ritz; at 15th & Ranstead Streets. Also, improvements to Dilworth Plaza are underway and soon Love Park and will also see improvements. And, to the north is the Ben Franklin Parkway, which is undergoing more improvements, such as Sister Cities Park. The Franklin Institute, the Free Library Central Branch, and the new Barnes Foundation museum are just a few blocks up the street from 1919 Market, at 20th & the Parkway. New residential development is happening in that direction, as well, such as the 1900 Arch apartments; at 19th & Arch Streets, and The Granary; at 20th & Callowhill Streets. Another residential development is planned for the block between 21st & 22nd Streets and Spring Garden & Hamilton Streets, as well as, a new apartment tower at 18th & Buttonwood Streets, next to the Museum Towers on Spring Garden. All this development, and it’s a lot as you can see, is bringing Rittenhouse-style luxury housing, retail, and nightlife further north, west, and east, and 1919 Market Street helps to bring these areas of Center City together with its own mix of upscale housing and retail, right in the middle of the city’s corporate community.
If you are thinking about buying or selling a home or investment property in this extremely popular part of the city, or any other part, please contact me at Gabriel.email@example.com or check out my Long & Foster agent portal, here, or our Long & Foster Philly Center City office, here. You can, also, check out my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE. And, you can access a PDF about 1919 Market Street from the Planning Commission’s Civic Design Review website, here, and view renderings and my pictures of the site and surrounding neighborhood, below.