Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New development projects are changing the face of Philadelphia

Center City, Philadelphia | Comcast Innovation + Technology Center

If you have been a loyal PUL.com reader over the last few years, then you already know that I love to talk about new development.

Why, you may ask?

Well, for starters, I am in the real estate business and I love what I do; I also have a passion for all things new construction and/or rehab related in the City of Brotherly Love. Residential, commercial, industrial, you name it. If it's happening, I'm interested.

Next reason, I'm a positive/optimistic kind of guy. "Doom and Gloom" has never been my bag, so it's only natural for me to provide insight and observation when good things are happening in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Last reason, Philadelphia is my home-sweet-home and a true national underdog. We were once at the top, then on the bottom, and now somewhere in between. The last 20+ years have been very exciting for our fair city, so naturally when good news is being announced, I enjoy discussing it.

And there you have it, my friends. 

Okay, back to the post.

Flying Kite has been around for a few years now, and it's a great resource if you ever want to read up on what's new and exciting in/around Philadelphia. FK focuses on both the city and suburbs, while "highlighting the people, ideas, neighborhoods, companies and institutions that are helping return Philadelphia to world-class city status."

It's also one of my go-to spots for finding the latest news about Philadelphia, and then stamping what I read with my own personal and professional perspectives. That's what blogging is all about, and why I enjoy doing it.

As aptly named in this post's title, there have been lots of new projects proposed and approved recently in the City of Philadelphia. Some may seem too small to make any sort of change, and some may seem so big that it's hard to imagine they will ever be built.

Either way, FK recently put out a list of "14 development projects" that have serious potential for positive change in Philadelphia. As to not bore you with my thoughts on each and every one, here are a few that I found to be the most important (the entire list can be found here):

- Rodin Square, Fairmount + Art Museum Area: If you have not strolled along West Fairmount Ave in 19130 for a few years ... go. It's crazy down there! Crazy-good, that is. Not only has the neighborhood found firm footing with new homeowners, new families, and new Philadelphians, but there are new businesses and new mixed-use buildings to boot. What first started as a residential revival on the western side of 19130, has since turned into a commercial boom with even more residential development spilling over to the eastern side (namely, in Francisville). Rodin Square will be a great connector project between all-of-the-good-already-happening in Fairmount, and the ever-burning-energy coming out of Center City (and a newly designed Benjamin Franklin Parkway). To top it all off, the project will feature a brand new Whole Foods, large/floor-to-ceiling glass cafe, 300 new residential units, "sky park (aka "luxury baller status")," and additional parking.

- Frankford Chocolate Factory, Graduate Hospital: Not sure what I'm referring to? If you're heading north on 22nd St, from South Philly, it's on your right as soon as you hit Washington Ave; or, if you are driving east/west on Washington Ave, it's on the northeast corner of 22nd St. Although it's kind of hard to miss, it looks like a dead spot. For something that takes up an entire city block in one of Philadelphia's hottest neighborhoods, you would think this would have turned into something new by now. The reason not is because it has been tied up in legal battles for years over the ex-owner's estate (the late Vietnamese businessman, Truong Dinh Tran). Now, it's on the market for an eligible buyer (who can turn it into something great). The last few years have already seen spillover from Graduate Hospital into Northern Point Breeze and Newbold, but a project this big (if done right) can only make that connection even better.

- Comcast Innovation + Technology Center, Logan Square: If you have not read about this one yet, I put a pretty detailed post together back in January 2014 (everything you need is there). But as far as game-changers go for Philadelphia these days, this is the one. With a height of 1,100 feet, 59 stories, Four Seasons Hotel (taking up 13 of the top floors), $1.2B price tag, and the tallest US building outside of NYC and Chicago, how can you not be pumped to see how this one turns out. Market West has primarily been a "business-first, pleasure-second" kind of Center City area for the past 30+ years, but a project like this could spur even more residential/retail growth in an already-dense urban neighborhood. Oh, and there should be almost 3,000 new/permanent jobs related to just the building alone. That does not account for all of the additional jobs just to build it, as well as those that will surround the building in the near future. Super-exciting-project!

- Reading Viaduct Rail Park, Callowhill + Loft District: From what seemed like a pipe dream just a few years ago, after NYC introduced its highly-touted "High Line," has since turned into a reality with planning, funding, and a whole lot of positive energy behind it. What is now a neighborhood that seems lost for a new identity, may soon turn into a neighborhood that successfully bridges the gap between Northern Liberties and Center City. It's hard not to see the potential in this one, with dirt expected to start moving in 2015.

So if you have been away from Philadelphia's local development scene for some time now, my hope is that this post has helped spread the good word. Amazing things are happening in the City of Brotherly Love, and the energy is contagious.

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