The city of Philadelphia and the surrounding region offers ample vantage points for viewing the skyline. The more distant views often show a clear perspective of a large swath of the growing skyline, offering various angles that go unseen angles from within the city itself. These views clearly show the new vertical mass being added to Center City and beyond, with tower cranes visible in various locations. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY observes various new projects rising into the skyline from a vantage point in New Jersey to the southeast of Center City.
In August 2020, Philadelphia YIMBY reported that permits were filed for the demolition of a historically designated four-story building at 107 Chestnut Street in the Old City Historic District in Center City, half a block away from Penn’s Landing. The structure was built in 1840, at a time when the neighborhood bustled with maritime commercial activity, and was one of the last remaining buildings on the street’s old mercantile row. The Philadelphia Historical Commission approved the demolition after engineering experts declared the structure unsafe yet required that the owner rebuild the historic edifice in its original form within a year. However, YIMBY’s recent site visit reveals that the structure’s former site still sits cleared and paved over with no signs of new construction, perched next to its lone prewar neighbor that stands surrounded by a parking lot.
No progress has been made yet at 200 Race Street in the Old City section of Center City, where a six-story, 49-unit mixed-use building was proposed some time ago. YIMBY last reported on the development September 2020. Although we were excited by the attractive, high-density development designed by Ambit Architecture, in the year-plus span that has passed since, no permits have been filed for neither demolition nor new construction. As expected, our recent site visit also revealed no activity at the site, with the two single-story retail structures still standing, although both appear to be shuttered and vacant.
Philadelphia YIMBY’s recent site visit has revealed that construction is nearly complete at the four-story, six-unit residential building at 214 North 12th Street in the western section of Center City’s Chinatown, in an area alternately known as the Convention Center District. The development replaces an attractive Colonial-style townhouse. According to filings, the new structure spans 5,190 square feet, leading to an average of around 850 square feet per unit, and features full sprinkling. Permits list Kaing Estate LLC as the owner and Liu Construction LLC as the contractor. Construction costs are specified at $200,000.
For nearly 35 years, the Philadelphia skyline has been dominated by skyscrapers rising well above 500 feet in height. The idea to breach of the height limit informally established by the 548-foot-tall pinnacle of City Hall, also known as the “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” surfaced in 1984. The first tower to rise above the limit was One Liberty Place, a daring structure for the time that rises 945 feet and 61 stories above ground at 1650 Market Street in Center City. The project was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn and developed by Rouse and Associates (which eventually became Liberty Property Trust), and was completed in 1987. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY takes a look back at when One Liberty Place passed the statue of William Penn on top of City Hall.