Yesterday, a reader gave us the heads up about a zoning application for 1118 Chestnut St. that made our hearts flutter with excitement. Haven’t been here lately? Well, it’s probably even worse than you remember. Vacancy lines the south side of the street, with shuttered businesses and several blighted buildings lined up in a row. But that all stands to change if developers get what they seek at the ZBA.
This is awful
According to the application, some of the buildings above will soon be demolished. The plan here, as we understand it, is to combine the properties pictured above and “demolish a six story and five story portion,” and then to build a seven story addition that rises over a hundred feet in the air. In the building will be commercial space on the first and second floor, and eighty apartments…
Today, members of Mayor Nutter’s administration gave their opinions to the PA Gaming Control Board on the six proposals currently under consideration for Philadelphia’s second casino license. If you’d like a rundown of all of the groups vying for this lucrative license, check out this excellent summary from today’s Daily News. But for now, we have some new information on the MARKET8 proposal, along with the sparkly new rendering that showed up in our inbox yesterday.
For those unfamiliar with the recent history of the surface parking lot on 8th & Market, here’s a brief summary. Over thirty years ago, the old Gimbel’s building was demolished after the company moved across the street to the then-new-and-fancy Gallery Mall. Several possible projects came and went for this site over the years, with the most famous being an indoor amusement park called DisneyQuest, proposed around the…
The best twenty bucks we spend every year is on our residential parking permit. Annually, we’ve religiously trekked to the Philadelphia Parking Authority offices at 30th & Market to renew our permit, fulfilling the annual program of forgetting to send the renewal back in the mail in a timely fashion. This year, as the clock struck June, we once again found ourselves needing to visit the PPA, in an effort to avoid the dreaded ticket for overtime parking with an expired residential permit.
So off we went to those familiar PPA offices, license, registration, utility bill, and checkbook in hand, eager to get this thing over with for another year. Imagine our surprise when the person at the building’s front desk told us that the PPA had moved out two weeks earlier, to a new customer service office on the other side of town! And…
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