Thursday, May 8, 2014

Update!!! Lots and Lots of No-Longer-Empty Lots!

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

         Hello, this is Robert Stack, and you are now reading this in my voice. Philadelphia has gone through a lot of changes since GroJLart's shitty blog began, and now I'm here to give you all the updates on the many empty lots in this city that are no more (or about to be). Play the youtube embedded below to hear the appropriate background music.


             Dranoff Properties has re-designed their plan for the Schuylkill River NIMBY Lot. The new design will have underground mechanized parking and be slightly taller. The sorely-needed cafe portion of the project is now gone, due to NIMBY concerns about "noise". Note: this location is next to an active freight line (noise) and across the river from the Schuylkill Expressway (NOISE). So apparently this cafe was going to be pretty fucking loud. Oh well, fuck 'em... its getting built!


             The Franklintown Shituation Lot is soon to meet its maker! Mega-developer Forest City was serious when they spoke of creating a second phase to Museum Towers, filling this 4-decade-old lot once and for all! The lot will get a very plain-looking 188 foot tower, a new parking garage, and a bunch of big-ass town homes that will hide it.

Yeah booooy!

            Kieth's Sanslot is soon to be no more! The heroes at Brickstone Realty have come along to finally put this shitty lot out of its misery and give new life to Chestnut East! Their new development will add a shitload of apartments to the corridor, a bunch of new retail, and a rumored supermarket to the street. On top of that, a Butt-Fugly Building will finally get demolished! This is the kind of development dickheads like me have always dreamed would come to this location! Good Luck!

Latest rendering. Rumor has it that the development might even take more of the block than seen here!

               The Penn's Landing Lot of Doom has (yet another) new plan for its removal. A new feasibility study by Hargreaves Associates has just been completed, with plans to reconnect the site of this lot with the rest of the city. There's really too much to talk about in one little blurb, so here's an extremely detailed report that explains everything.


           The South Street Dread Lot FINALLY has a plan! After years and years of nothingness, this piece of shit lot may finally come to an end. A developer called Silk Companies plans 21 condo units for the site, with a whacky-looking building designed by ISA Design Studios facing the South Street side. Read all about it here.


          The Franklintown and RDA Fail Lot is getting even more Mormoned than originally planned! Not only will a Mormon Temple be built on the site, but also a Mormon Meeting House and a 32-story residential building designed by Robert A.M. Stern!! Holy shit! Literally!


              Another long-term empty lot, NIMBY Memorial West, has plans to be eliminated. The heroic Carl Dranoff plans a gifuckinggantic Hotel/Condo that will stand here and on the sites of the Philly International Records Building and 311 South Broad. It will run under the SLS International brand and will be the tallest building east of Broad Street. Hopefully this isn't a pipe dream and will actually get built. Good fucking luck!! Here's every last rendering of the thing you can think of.


               The First Regiment Armory Lot is also about to be eliminated. This 35-year-old empty lot will soon be covered by Hanover North Broad, a two-building development that will wipe out both this lot and its twin across the street. The Hanover Company, based out of Houston, is teaming up with Parkway Corp to get this done. Though its probably not the most ideal building for this lot, its much much better than a shitty surface lot.


             The Mercantile Liblotary is back up for sale. Have $1.69 Million to burn? You can now own this failure of architecture and urban planning that is more ass-kissed than anything but Guild House. Here's the listing!


            The Shitz Carlton Waldorf Awhoria Fail Lot will hopefully be dead soon. The Warrior-Poet Brook Lenfest released a new rendering to the nerds on Skyscraper Page showing a brand new design for his W Hotel/Element, which is scheduled to break ground sooner than you think. This definitely needs to happen.

Excellent, though blue doesn't have to be the color.


             The Great NIMBY Memorial is now, finally, a construction site. Toll Brothers is now building 410 at Society Hill, putting an end to that shitbag lot. Hopefully, this fulfills all the hopes and dreams of all those NIMBYs who put an end to all the good developments that were proposed here.

Again, I didn't say it was pretty.

          A new proposal has come to the Schuylkill Sea. Coming on down from NP International is River Walk Philadelphia, a 650-unit condo complex with multiple buildings and perhaps a supermarket. Of course, keep in mind that this is probably the 20th project proposed for this lot in the last 6 decades. If NP pulls this off, they will have accomplished something no other developer could pull off before. Good fucking luck.

There are so many dead proposals for this space that I still haven't told you about all of them.
          For every  empty lot, effed-up building, or new development, there's someone, somewhere, who knows the truth. Perhaps that someone is reading this. Perhaps... it's you. If you have any new or extra information relating to articles posted at Philaphilia, write to us at You need not give your name.

"Now get the fuck out of here."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fill This Front: 9th and Chestnut

Northeast corner of 9th and Chestnut

                  I love this goddamn building. 833 Chestnut is a good old fashioned 1926 building that used to be part of the Gimbel's department store. The retail part of the building closed in 1986 and the rest stayed as class ZZZZ offices until 2000, when NYC's Property Asset Management Inc completed a $42 million upgrade that included a restoration of the storefronts/street level windows to their original appearance. The building was then purchased by Digital Realty in 2005 and they still own the building, marketing floors 9 and higher as a big-ass carrier hotel while leasing medical office space in the floors below. It has been highly successful ever since.
                The 1,754 square-foot retail space at the northeast corner of 9th and Chestnut, however, has been empty for 3 goddamn years. It last housed a shitty Quiznos, just like many other storefronts in Center City in the Twenty00's. Ever since, this high foot and auto traffic location hasn't been able to fill up. Of course, it would help if the space was even officially on the market. According to its loopnet listing, the space is "Off Market", so that doesn't fucking help. Think about it-- the sign in the window says "RETAIL","Prime Retail Corner", etc... then if anyone inquires about it, they'll find the dead Loopnet listing.
               Originally I was going to complain to you about all the empty fronts they also have on 9th Street, but I'm pretty certain that those windows are not storefronts but old Gimbel's display windows with nothing else behind them. Digital Realty's own profile of the building only describes the three retail spaces facing Chestnut Street. I could be wrong. If that's the case, there's even more retail space this fucker isn't filling. The corner space is more important anyway.
            Well folks, now's the time to fill this bastard. What excuse is left? Endless foot/auto traffic. Thousands of Jefferson Hospital and other office workers nearby. Close to Market 8, if that gets chosen as our new casino. With Century 21 and maybe Eataly coming along a block away, now's the fucking time to get rolling here.
            Digital Realty needs to get on this shit before the Ben Franklin across the street sops up all the potential tenants. That building, under its new management, has been to get DiBruno's and a coffee shop so far. Of course they haven't been able to fill their 9th/Chestnut corner space either, so maybe this corner is just cursed or something.

The storefront in 1959 when it was just a shitty display window., a project of the Department of Records.
                    So for you potential tenants out there, let me put it to you like this: This is a 1,754 square foot space on a high-traffic corner with large windows on two sides. It is located two blocks from the most connected transit hub in the city, linking it with literally hundreds of thousands of people without the need for them to get in a car. The space is directly below the iconic clock that 833 Chestnut uses as a symbol to represent itself. Thousands of people work every day in this immediate area, which holds not just this building, but hundreds of residential units across the street. The customers are there, you just need to give them something they need, which is a lot-- there's little else at this corner.
                  Digital Realty, get this sucker back on the market so something great can come here and make the rest of your building shine. My own personal fucking doctor works in this building... do it for him and all the other people who come here every goddamn day. Save Chestnut East and FILL THIS FRONT!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Butt-Fugly Building: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius Building

1701 Market

                 Why the hell does our Central Business District have this shitty fucking box of a building? This antiquated piece of shit with its old timey ribbon windows that aren't even that old! Knock this fucker down and put a real building in its place. This pile of shit had its time in the sun, now it needs its time in Hell. 
                This 248-foot-tall piece of Lego-looking asstrash was once considered quite the important building. At the time construction was about to begin, the future of the infant Penn Center was looking pretty bleak. The Center was already on its second developer, the first one having said "Fuck this shit!" immediately before. Plans for an underground concourse to connect the whole thing (which was planned to have 1000 retail spaces lol) were looking bleak. The plans for 6 Penn Center were going to put the concourse in even more danger, since they called for an underground delivery area that would have blocked any future concourse. Edmund Bacon and his gigantic Kevin Bacon-making cock actually had to get the city's Law Department involved to help make the concourse happen.
              Anyway, 6 Penn Center's ugly ass was complete by the end of 1957. It was to be part of a transportation Super-Block. The Pennsylvania Railroad would have its offices here while the rest of the block would be filled with the world's ugliest bus station. The design came from the Great Satan Vincent Kling, and was basically a box with box-shaped windows. Like he was doing the first drawings on graph paper, got stoned, then just outlined every other square on the paper and drew a box around it out of laziness.

The building in 1958. It was less than a year old in this picture and already looks like crap. The crappy watermark indicating where the picture comes from actually makes the building look better!
               As you can see in the picture above, the original version of the facade was even shittier than it is now. It was built a full block away from the rest of Penn Center, the 1600 block of Market being a big-ass surface parking lot for 8 years afterward.
              While it was known as the Transportation Building, 1701 Market held the Pennsylvania Railroad's offices through their two mergers, becoming Penn Central in 1968 and finally Conrail in 1976. At some point, some of the office floors were made into a 194-car parking garage... I guess they figured with those shit windows no one would know the difference. By the time the 1990s rolled around, Philly had a shitload of office buildings in this area that were about 1000 times better looking and 75000 times more technologically advanced. Conrail ditched the building in 1993 and it stayed empty for years thereafter.
             Finally, in 1997, people started to get sick of having this antiquated butt-fugly building sitting around doing nothing. The conglomeration of owners commissioned Kohn Pedersen Fox to re-design the building to make it look like it might actually be able to get a real company to move in. They ripped the facade out between the windows to create a ribbon window effect, making the building look like it was built in 1958 instead of 1957. The ramp up to the internal parking garage was covered in stainless steel panels. The entire interior was upgraded. It didn't help. The building still manages to look dated as fuck.
            The Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm took occupancy of the building in 1998 and was doing well enough by 2001 to eliminate the internal parking garage and add 44,000 square feet of office space to the place. The building is now named after them. It went up for sale in 2004 but no one took the bait.
             This little piece of rhinoceros shit takes up space in a location that should have a much taller, more modern building. It also has a corner retail space on its Market Street side that is chronically unfilled, but I'll be telling y'all about that some other time. Once Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius's lease is up, put this ugly bastard out of its misery.

You can see the covered former parking garage ramp from this angle. You can find two other Butt-Fugly Buildings I've written about before in the background, 1601 and 1635 Market.