Thursday, July 14, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- July 14th

Shitz Carlton Waldorf Awhoria Fail Lot

Bounded by Chestnut Street, 15th Street, The Residences at the Ritz and the Ritz Hotel.

What a pisser.
                     This lot never needed to happen. If only some rich motherfuckers got their shit in a pile and could make a deal worth any salt this lot would be filled. A location like this should not be empty for 10 years. This lot makes me crazy every time I see it. It was continuously occupied from at least the 1830's until 2001. Since then, it's been another damn sea of asphalt, scarring Center City with it's blatant emptiness.
                      This stretch of Chestnut Street was first covered in large rowhomes and then became a commercial strip by the beginning of the 20th Century.

The north side of Chestnut in 1917.
Corner of 15th and Chestnut. That's the Arcade Building on the left.
                      One of the many buildings named the Morris Building stood on this row, a 1910 skyscraper by none other than Frankie Furness.

Seen here in it's final decade.
                      So what happened to all this nice shit that was running this block? Well, this:

                      The One Meridian Plaza fire on February 23rd, 1991 fucked up everything. The fire was near the top of the skyscraper and debri fell onto the buildings facing Chestnut Street, damaging them irrevocably (though some call that into question). The Morris Building was already fucked up beyond recognition so it was the perfect excuse to tear that down. Once the Meridian Building was finally cleared, the Shitz Carlton Waldorf Awhoria Fail Lot was born, doubly as large as it is now. 
                     It lingered for years and years while proposals for the spot came and went. A proposal for a supertall skyscraper called the Center City Tower was nearly dead on arrival.

It probably would have been called the Comcast Center if built.
                 After taking forever to get started, the Residences at the Ritz managed to get built, cutting the lot in half. The remaining half has had two major proposals that have fallen to shit.

This one never got past being called 1441 Chestnut. Meh.
                          1441 Chestnut was proposed around the same time the Residences at the Ritz was, but after disagreements between developers and a whole lot of other drama, the shit never got built. Nothing was heard about it for awhile until a new design for 1441 Chestnut came along, but was now going to be a massive 670-foot Waldorf-Astoria hotel and condo. This thing actually got approved and seemed like it was on it's way. People got excited as shit.

I could fux with it.
                       Even after the economy collapsed the developer announced that it was still a go in February 2009. They even set up a sales storefront in the fancy Walnut Street shopping district. A little while later they started saying that only the parking garage would be built and the tower would definitely be built later. By May 2009 it was put "on hold" and the lot got auctioned off in October 2010, killing off the project completely. Even as it was being auctioned off, the developer of the project was quoted by Inquirer as saying "That property can't be just a surface parking lot..."
                      The only thing we have left is a 22,400 square foot Sea of Assquility. Brook Lenfest, son of the guy that a shitload of crap in this city is named after, now owns the lot. He was an 85% shareholder for the previous developer of this project, so maaaaaaybe the Waldorf could still happen. Other developments from before the recession that I thought were dead are starting to return, so maaaaaaybe there's something here. Don't get your fucking hopes up.


  1. You skipped over some of the kind of pathetic history of this spot. Not only did that fire happen, but there was a shelled out building almost next to our City Hall for 8 years as litigation dragged on. For 8 years, Broad Street looked like Pyongyang, with a vacant, burned out building occupying a prominent space in the skyline.

  2. hehe... I thought someone might bring that up. I'll be getting to that mess when I do Meridian as a lost building of the week.