If you’ve ever travelled over the Ben Franklin Bridge and headed through town via 8th Street, you’ve surely noticed the terrible PPA parking garage that “arches over” 8th Street between Arch and Filbert. Its miserable aesthetic comes off even worse when you consider what it replaced when it was built in the mid-1960s.
8th and Arch in 1959
Philaphilia tells us that the construction of this monstrosity was actually celebrated in its time, as it made it much easier for suburban shoppers to park when visiting the adjacent Strawbridge’s or Lit Bros. department stores. Somehow, it looked a little less scary during the Johnson administration.
Right after it was finished
Over the years, however, this building has held up, shall we say, extremely poorly. Retail spaces on 8th Street have (understandably) struggled mightily,…
Last fall, we speculated that the PREIT‘s purchase of 901 Market St. could mean that the Gallery Mall was finally close to undergoing a very necessary renovation and re-imagining. At that time, a Philadelphia Business Journal article suggested that the company was planning to turn the mall inside out, if you will, reorienting the customer experience to Market Street and ostensibly improving the retail mix at the same time.
901 Market St.
Not exactly welcoming
While that would clearly be extremely beneficial to the first floor and basement levels, we don’t imagine that it would do much good for the mall’s second or third floors. And it seems that the owner of the mall agrees. According to Edith Vaara of PREIT, plans are afoot to convert the second…
Today, Market East is a haven for pawn-brokers, check-cashing stands and purveyors of brand name knockoffs. The south side of the 1000 block offers one such decidedly uninspiring mix of storefronts. Simultaneously, this stretch is a reminder of a time when Market Street was one of the nation’s top retail destinations. The odd structure listed as 1020 Market St. is a perfect demonstration. This strange building, whose edifice looks not unlike a gargantuan toboggan leaning against a dumpster, hints at a brighter time in Market Street’s retail history. Actually, a reflection on the changes at this location suggests that most times in its retail history were brighter than this one. So says the 1858 photo below, taken from the Library Company, which shows the location in its earliest incarnation as a marble yard.
Marble Yard and jib crane in
Back in April, groundbreaking took place for a new Home2 Suites by Hilton on the corner of 12th & Arch. This corner had been a parking lot for many years, and we were excited last year when we first heard about this plan.
In the past
Unfortunately, as the hotel has risen from the ground, we’ve discovered that its appearance leaves a lot to be desired. Especially with a number or ornate buildings immediately to the west, and the historic Reading Terminal right across the street, the new building really sticks out, looking like a bland cube that just dropped out of the sky.
Sure, it’s great to see a parking lot turned into a productive commercial space, but can’t Hilton hire some legit architects? Are we asking for too much here?
Last week, we told you about the ongoing renovation and expansion at the Hard Rock Cafe on Market Street, next to the Reading Reading Terminal Market. Directly across the street is a vacant commercial space that’s been empty now for a couple of years, since sports bar Champps closed a couple of years ago.
Now, we like a good photo of the Rocky statue as much as anyone, but is anyone else a little surprised that this space has sat vacant for so long? And isn’t it likewise strange that a sports bar couldn’t hold things down in a space connected to a Convention Center hotel? Any thoughts on a business that could succeed here?
We were catching an American Football match at the Field House yesterday and noticed something shiny and new next door. As you may or may not be aware, the Market Street entrance to the Convention Center not only contains an entrance to the Field House, a Dunkin Donuts, and a PNC Bank, but it also contains a brand new addition to the Hard Rock Cafe.
It seems that after fourteen years, this cheesy chain location was in need of an upgrade. With that in mind, the restaurant has built “The Philadelphia Room,” an extension of the restaurant and an event space, in an area that used to be superfluous Convention Center lobby space (at least as far as we can recall). With the recent completion of the new space,…