Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fill this Front: Utrecht Chestnut Street

2020-22 Chestnut Street

             Check this one out-- a big-ass mid-century modern retail building in the heart of a quickly-developing part of Chestnut Street. Its near Rittenhouse Square, its near lots of new development, its got a lot going on. After about a year and a half empty, its time to FILL THIS FRONT!
             This little building is a leftover from the retail development empire of Goldie Hoffman. In the mid 20th Century, she built lots of stuff and did most of it while filling in long-term Center City surface parking lots. Not exactly the most beautiful developments, but at least she filled in lots that would probably still be surface parking today. In the early 1950s, this particular location was home to a 20 year old surface parking area that replaced this kick-ass Frank Furness bank building:

Holy Crap!
              In 1953, Goldie proposed this 25-foot tall retail/office structure, designed by one Charles H. Ingle. It was built by a contractor named Morris Marshall and was completed by the start of 1954. Its first tenants were an insurance company in the 2nd floor office that stuck around until the 70s and the Dictaphone Corporation's Philadelphia sales office on the first floor.

Maybe Don Draper got his dictaphone there.
              After the Dictaphone store closed (the Dictaphone Corporation is still around btw), the first floor retail space became an office furniture store. In 1969, it became a branch of Form & Function Inc, an NYC-based furniture store that exclusively sold imported goods from Sweden. They stuck around the space for 12 years, finally closing in 1981. In 1982, after a failed attempt to make the building a grocery store, a votech computer training center took over and they stuck it out for at least a decade while a landscaper architecture firm occupied the upper floor.
           In 1992-93, an office and art supply store called Charette took over the space while the upper floor held some Philadelphia Housing Authority offices (they used to have an HQ next door that's now a shitty derelict building). In 2002, Utrecht Art Supplies moved into the retail space and in 2003 the Koresh School of Dance moved into the upper floor.

With Utrecht and Koresh, 2009, thanks to the Google Streetview Time Machine.
            They both stayed until June 2013, after Utrecht had been absorbed by Blick Arts and Koresh moved over to 2020 Rittenhouse Square. Ever since, the two floors of this ~11,500 square foot building have been empty.
        Just recently, the space has gone up for lease. The place has a liquor license sticker on it now and is being offered up by Metro Commercial as "ideal for retail or restaurant use". They are fucking correct!! This block and those surrounding it have seen a lot of new shit over the past few years. AQ Rittenhouse is nearing completion right across the street and some long-empty retail is starting to fill up nearby. The location consists of two floors that each total 5,832 feet of floor space with 55 feet of frontage on Chestnut Street and access in the rear on the 2001 block of Ionic Street. That's a lot of fucking space and a lot of fucking frontage for this area.

Blueprint of the space Metro Commercial is including with the listing.

            This place is super-transit accessible. There's a subway-surface trolley stop only a few blocks away and a whole assload of bus lines pass this place every few minutes. The foot traffic over here is frigging insane and lots of people with tons of disposable income both live and/or work in this immediate area. What the hell are you waiting for? Here's the listing, call up Metro Commercial and tell them you want to FILL THIS FRONT!!


  1. Why was that beautiful Funess building demolished anyway?

  2. GroJlart RhaandariteMarch 12, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Those old banking castles were hard to re-use and usually had stone floors and interior walls because of fear of fire.

  3. they're just going to stuff in another glass tower full of NY Diks.....