Monday, March 07, 2005

Walnut Street development

Here's a few articles about future developments on Walnut Street, one of the main thoroughfares in the city, linking east to west.

The former Border's Book site
, near 18th and Walnut Street, has been bought again. The new developer, Midwood Properties, has scrapped plans for residential units, choosing to focus on commercial only. The idea is to break up the properties, which includes the former Talbot's site as well, and develop multiple upscale retail properties.

I love this new course, as it will make this area even more of a destination spot for shoppers and other retailers, bringing people and money to the city. There has been a tremendous focus on residential development in Center City, which is understandable considering the demand and profits available. Unfortunately, the notion of shopping and commerce gets lost in the shuffle, despite the fact that this is one of the reasons so many people want to live in this area. Rittenhouse has become so desired because of its quintessential urban feel, with its high rises, restaurants, cafes and shops all within a few blocks, and lots of people living, working, shopping and just being. Walnut Street has done a great job of turning itself into a place to walk and window-shop, a continuous stretch of destinations (both culinary and retail), synonymous with luxury and elegance. This development will only further this, while showing the immense benefits of mixed uses for a neighborhood.

Further west, around 24th and Walnut Sts., the former Rosenbluth Travel building will be converted to condos, which makes sense, as well. It has been sitting vacant for a few years, so anything is better than nothing. Philly's real estate market is crazy good, and the demand for high-end units is through the roof. But, from the developer's words in the story, this does not sound like just 'anything', a development to take advantage of a good market and unused space. In fact, this sounds like an incredible high-end condo project, with huge individual units (6000 square feet per unit!), a "sky garden" with trees and vines and a restaurant on the roof of the old Rosenbluth building, and every amenity imaginable. It sounds like a great project to me, one that will add to the neighborhood, the city and its skyline.

More to come on this area of the city, a key point that connects Center City to UPenn and West Philly. Lots of good stuff happening,

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