31 March 2006: Overheard in NoLibs, "No, I'm the tallest!"



Trump got tr. . . no, I'm not going to say it. Dude got out-highed. (Better?) The kondo kraziness keeps kontinuing up the Delaware Riverfront. Waterfront Square's got ╦two towers up, three to go. Marina View has moved some dirt. 101 Sky has a sign on site. Trump came in and blew his horn for a little, announcing the tallest of the bunch. Carl Marks' World Trade Square seems unlikely. The Sugar House casino proposal seemed like one of the best of them. And now?

Here is Bridgeman's View Tower. Designed locally by Agoos-Lovera (who also designed The Philadelphia School's expansion proposal for 25th & South, itself far better than the other three proposals for the same site) and generated locally by Ironworkers Local 401 with New York investors, Bridgeman's View will soar well past the St James as the tallest residential building in the city. Of its seventy stories, there are plans for two for retail at its base and two floors of high-end office space above that, as well as a plan to pretty up Poplar Street from Delaware Ave over to Standard Tap on the other side of 95.

The aerial rendering above left is pretty decent, and has massings for those towers mentioned two paragraphs up. It's a pretty nice looking glass tower, and the irregular crown is a nice touch (and very Philadelphian). Bridgeman's View will be at the top of the list for the revamped Skinny, which is getting closer to launch. We're hoping for mid-April. We ensure that it'll be worth the wait. Philly Mag may want to copy it too!

Till then, check out the rest of the waterfront with Swiney Swinefeld, and oh yeah, KEEP DOIN' THAT G-HO THING! The revolution just might be televised.

–B Love



27 March 06: COMCAST PEE PARTY


Look: No flush!

Ohhh, Comcast Center. You've grown so stoutly and relatively quickly that people are starting to notice. People are talking.

Ohhh, Philly unions. In spite of their better efforts, things like MTV's Real World and the Convention Center have moved forward. As reported by Inga Saffron in last Sunday's Inquirer and followed up in this Sunday's Inquirer, Plumbers Union Local 690 doesn't want to install the flushless urinals that are one of the centerpieces of Comcast Center's designation as a green building. Read Inga's stories for the back story.

On its surface, it seems like Philly unions being Philly unions. And, maybe it is; maybe they really don't want to install the urinals because it means less manpower. Less flushes means less water means less long term maintenance. Maybe so. But a point that seems to have been buried in it all is that the City's obviously antiquated codes hold no provisions for waterless urinals. So on that front, the plumbers union is right in that it IS a violation of code. Should the code be modified? Of course it should. Will it? I guess we'll find out.

As for Comcast Center specifically? Well, this issue has motivated at least enough people to form a committee called Philadelphians for a More Progressive Philadelphia ("Pimp Philly," if you will . . . and I will), who sent me cut-n-paste copy of their multiple posts on Phillyblog (where there is quite a discussion on this potential pee problem -- see HERE) announcing a protest of said plumbers. It will be at Love Park at 1pm on April 2nd, which is a Sunday . . . when plumbers usually don't work. Still, Philly Skyline may drop by just to see what's happening.
Anyway, speaking of Comcast Center, I'm finishing up a better version of its timeline (which I'll notate here upon its completion), and as always, you can find updates on its progress HERE. In fact, Treehugger found it and helped themselves to a picture for their story about the Pee Party. Why do hippies always steal from me? I'm still a little pissed (no pun intended) about the new jacket and gloves they stole from me at a Phish show at Madison Square Garden in 1997. (Yeah yeah, it's punishment for going to a Phish show. I never heard that before.)

And for a start-of-the-week rapid fire, here we go:
  1. LADIES AUXILIARY CLUB goes professionally live on Saturday. The purveyor of official Philly Skyline merchandise (coming soon!) will share her wears and possibly a Philly Skyline photo or two in her new booth The Coterie, downstairs at Antiquarian Market (6th & Bainbridge). It's going to be a beautiful spring weekend so go down to South Street and swing over there.

  2. FEN BRANKLIN is a dog loving Flickr Fellow, and his first Philly Skyline contribution comes this week in the form of a neighborhood tour, that of West Philly's Powelton Village. Check back for those by let's say Wednesday.

  3. RYAN HOWARD is the man, and you KNOW that's been a Philly Skyline staple since dude was smacking balls out in Reading. Now Josh Beckett knows it too. Wonder what Wheels of Fire has to say about it ... let's consult the Chris Wheeler Glossary.

  4. ATTENTION [PHILADELPHIA AREA] COLLEGE STUDENTS: Are you a photographer? Are you good? Would you like to share your work on a popular web site? Of course you would. Philly Skyline wants to add local college campuses to its photographic repertoire, and what better way than to include the schools' respective students? If you go to Temple, Penn, Drexel, LaSalle, Philadelphia University, Villanova, Chestnut Hill, Girard, Lincoln, Jefferson or St Joe's, CONTACT ME and let's do this thing. Target date is graduation, so early May. Without being too corny and guidebook-y, try to capture your campus's real life: landmarks (e.g. Temple Bell Tower or the Ben Franklin statues at Penn), architecture (regardless its era -- think Drexel Main or St Joseph Hall), and of course people. You can put it on your resume -- it'll be phillyskyline.com/colleges/your_name_here or something similar.

  5. CENTER CITY STATE: Center City District's latest fun filled fact finding venture is its twelfth annual State of Center City, available in PDF for HERE.

  6. PHILLY SKYLINE UPDATES FORTHCOMING: a new, improved Skinny, the architecture of Rittenhouse Square, our thoughts on Citizens Bank Park, parking garages, cheesesteaks . . . we've got nothing but time and space, yo.

  7. JOIN THE G-HO REVOLUTION: just do it. Get in now and you can say you knew us when. Start by touring the neighborhood (by clicking the graphic below), grab a special at B&B's then Tritone, and finish the night up with us down at the Sidecar. Your boss will understand tomorrow morning.


–B Love




23 March 06: FAIT ACCOMPLI!


I didn't make it to the presentation, but the Greater Philly Skyline team did (thanks for the picture, Swiney!) and they report that State Senator Vince Fumo and his neighbors were a wee bit unhappy that developers V&H Properties slid one past them. The story in the Spring Garden / Fairmount / Art Museum Area goes: one day everything was status quo at the Best Western, then out of nowhere, one of the famous blaze orange zoning notices appeared on its fence announcing its demolition, to make way for a new 47 story tower.

This is no small matter -- literally. At 47 stories and 500', the Barnes Tower (so named to coincide with the pending move of the Barnes Museum? Perhaps ...) would double the height of the other towers in the area, all midrises (City View, One Buttonwood Square, the Parkway House, the Philadelphian, etc). So it'll stand out. But it can: as reported in the Inquirer,
the property's R-15 zoning already allows multifamily buildings of indeterminate height.
So while Senator Phone Card may keep repeating "this is not a fait accompli!" and threaten to litigate with his neighbors' money (so proud of the fact that the Phillies are stuck in South Philly, and not in Center City where they belong), it seems right now that the ball is in the developers' court. The developers who, by the way, are building Waterfront Square.
At last check, by the way, Waterfront Square's first two towers were complete, the garage and spa were well under construction, and they were lying foundation for the third of the five towers. We're doing some back end stuff right now to bring more construction status pictures to Philly Skyline. As always, Comcast Center's construction page is constantly being updated (most recently yesterday), so be sure to swing by that way too.

Anyway, back to the Barnes Tower for a second. I don't know. We're guessing that this is a very preliminary sketch, but the tower itself, designed by Nyrd-Hill, leaves a little to be desired. The smaller, phase 2 of the project does a nice job of mimicking the Parkway House across the street (itself a very underrated Philly building, and the tallest one built in the 1940s when the world was at war). The parking's kept out of site, and there will some a quasi-park on the property, but likely reserved for its residents.

If it goes through as planned, the Best Western would be demolished in the next year, construction started on the taller tower in summer 2007, and it would open in mid-2009. Our official stance at Philly Skyline is, for now, "whatever." If they build it, cool. If not, we'll still have the B & W Lounge, with the best NFL Ticket display in the city.

Elsewhere around the site, keep an eye out soon for Jeremy Burger's West Philly neighborhood Powelton Village, my walk around the perimeter of Rittenhouse Square, and a new-look Skinny. But for now, join the G-Ho Revolution.

–B Love


20 March 06: WE'RE STILL #5

Every summer, leading up to the US Census' annual population estimates, Phoenix gets all wide eyed about finally overtaking Philly as the fifth largest city in the US. It hasn't happened yet, but it's going to. It says a lot about how America has grown since, well, since the end of World War II, when Phoenix was still a wild west town of barely 100,000 (the same time, incidentally, that Philly's population peaked at over 2 million.) In this site's etc section, there is a table comparing the growth of 22 of the country's biggest cities, in terms of both people and land area. It's interesting to note the correlations. That table is here.

I bring this up because I'm in Phoenix right now, and the differences between it and Philadelphia couldn't be more night and day. But despite an East Coaster's preconceived notion that it is nothing but a sprawling mass of contiguous, smoggy suburbs (which isn't entirely untrue), Phoenix does have its charm. Well, in March anyway.

Phoenix is much more laissez-faire, really a libertarian society at heart. That's why everyone drives a car and lives on an acre of land and they keep building highways. They're in the process of finally building light-rail though, and interested businesses on the right of way are getting Transit Oriented Development breaks, which is a good sign (one of which I doubt John McCain, a Phoenix resident himself, is much of a fan, considering he has personally had it in for Amtrak in recent years -- Amtrak which, by the way, has no service at all in Phoenix proper).

Anyway, this isn't to say I'll be joining the ranks of the PA transplants who open shops with Eagles logos on them and serve cheesesteaks for people to chow down in the 110 degree "dry heat" . . . I'll have pictures up on landolove.com within a week or so. I'm in the process of making that site Philly Skyline's sister site of sorts, a place for my non-Philly pictures. I'm also in the process of giving The Skinny a makeover which I think y'all will like.

Finally, if what Inga reported in Sunday's Inquirer is true -- that the local plumbers union is refusing to install the waterless urinals at Comcast Center for incorrect and inaccurate reasons -- then they can piss up a waterless rope. Comcast Center is a union building -- we've all seen the commercials -- so its developers are accommodating the unions to make this landmark building happen here in Philadelphia (and NOT Phoenix or Wilmington or Denver). It's only fair that the plumbers can make what in the long run is a minor concession to keep Comcast Center on track and on green status. It's absolutely ridiculous to think otherwise.

–B Love


13 March 2006: AND NOW WE CALL IT G-HO

Good lord, how embarrassing. I just noticed how f'd up the table on this homepage was. Why didn't yous tell me??? (Should be fixed now -- what can I say, I work on a mac where everything looks perfect!)

Anyway, G-Ho. Get used to it. "Graduate Hospital Area" is depressing. "SoSo" is just corny. "Southwest Center City" is offensive to longtime South Philly residents who don't want the Center City confusion and perplexing to Center City's residents who don't really know what lies below South Street. And "Naval Square?" Yeah. How's about let's take a neighborhood that's been here for eons, sell an historic landmark to a corporate suburban developer to watch it rot until the market makes it ok for said suburban giant to come into the big bad city and then shower them with roses as liberators by renaming the neighborhood after whatever they decide to call it.

No.

Our time is now, and G-Ho is our name. The Graduate Hospital is going to close sooner or later because there are too many other good hospitals and because developers probably already have the floorplans on how it will look as condos anyway, so let's honor its memory before it's lost and once and for all throw up a name that sticks, goddamn it. Northern Liberties, Queen Village, Bella Vista and the Art Museum -- your fringe neighborhood days have passed. Make way for G-Ho.

Oh . . . speaking of striking before the iron's even hot, you should also really check out Joe Menardi's waterfront photo essay. As fans of Philadelphia Style magazine, you're already familiar with phillyskyline.com, but remember Menardi's name too. He just might be what's next in Philadelphia.

As for what's next on this here Philly Skyline, again I say: organization and advertising. It only makes sense; please stay tuned. But first, check out the latest photo efforts below.

–B Love


9 March 06: HAPPY XMAS (with love, 15th & Chestnut)


This photo of Mariner Properties' Tim Mahoney and the Arden Groups's Craig Spencer was taken in 2001, in anticipation of a day that was five years in the making -- five rigorous years in which we watched demolition (of the remaining Morris Building), paving (of a second surface parking lot), vandalism ("REAL ESTATE PRIME, PARKING LOT CRIME"), promises ("15th & Chestnut, it's happening") and showdowns (court appeals involving both parties and lots of finger pointing and name calling) -- a day that is March 9, 2006.

What a day 9th March, 2006 was. It was Philadelphian epic good, red rock opium good, so good that John Street was having so great a day he couldn't put it into words. As reported by the Inquirer's Henry J Holcomb (who, since Carla Anderson left, is Philly Skyline's official second-favorite PNI employee, most obviously after Inga Saffron; the Business Journal's Natalie Kostelni is our favorite non-PNI writer), Spencer and Mahoney have signed a peace deal to stop suing each other and get to building their respective towers. Just as soon as they can get their heavy equipment on site, Spencer will build his 44 story Residences at the Ritz (on the former site of One Meridian Plaza) and Mahoney will build his redesigned, 58 story 1441 Chestnut along the corner of 15th & Chestnut, which rumors have exceeding the height of City Hall itself.

From our hearts to yours, Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Spencer, congratulations, best of luck, and it's about time! Seriously: we are all very excited about this and look forward to the temporary gridlock that signifies the longterm benefit to 15th & Chestnut.
An intersection which, by the way, is not just getting two new glitzy towers to further shape our changing skyline (sorry Inga). Directly across the street from Mahoney's tower stands The Grande, née The Packard Building, the 1924 art moderne classic which was recently converted into condos. Its, uh, grande main floor, formerly a bank, is being converted into a 600 seat House of Blues venue and a restaurant, while the penthouse of the building will be home to the Foundation Room, House of Blues' VIP members-only club. But if we may segue here, let's keep talking House of Blues but move away from 15th & Chestnut to . . .

16th & Washington. That's right, South Philly represent, HOB is coming your way. According to a post on Phillyblog by developer David Grasso, the 15th & Chestnut HOB location will only be half of the story. At 16th & Washington, HOB will house a brand new 1500 person live music venue, which will absolutely serve as a starting point, a catalyst, a dot in the connection between the Avenue of the Arts (South Broad Street, two blocks away), the Graduate Hospital Area (which will come to life on this site via a new neighborhood photo essay this weekend), and Point Breeze, the struggling South Philly neighborhood that has needed this shot in the arm. (Shot as in vaccination, not as in rat-tat-tat shot.) The Marine Club apartment building a block away is going condo, the northwest corner of Broad & Washington has a list of developers from which one will soon be chosen to develop it, and man, is this ever an incredible venture.

And well, just a little west down Washington, let's hang a left on Grays Ferry and head to the Schuylkill River. You know that River Path / River Trail / Park / thing SRDC is calling the Schuylkill Banks these days? Well, as Philly Skyline reported months and months ago, the master plan will see the extension of the trail below South Street Bridge and eventually all the way to Fort Mifflin on the Delaware River. Well, in this week's South Philly Review, Fred Durso Jr sees that the next phase in that is the area below the Trigen Power Station known as the Dupont Crescent in the neighborhood known as Forgotten Bottom. It's an interesting and optimistic read about the brownfield transformation therein.

All this in a day's time, less than 24 hours after the first big update in a couple of weeks, which is carried on below. New photo essays, neighborhood tours, building examinations, reviews and much much more is on its way. So stick around . . . we'll be right back!


6 March 06: BACK ON THE SCENE, KRISPY AND KREME

Just not the one on Cottman Ave at the Roosevelt Mall. Who would believe that less than four years after the Krispy Kreme Philly flagship opened that it would have already closed? I'm no Homer Simpson, but you can't front on a good hot donut. (Er, excuse me, doughnut.) They closed that store, the ones in Delco, the ones at the Airport and the ones in Delaware. Jeezus. Read about it in the Northeast Times if you're interested. (Ya big fat doughnut eatin' American slob.)

Never mind Krispy Kreme, let's talk Philly Skyline updates. RAPID FIRE IN 3 . . . 2 . . . (read this with the voice of Stephen Colbert during 'The Word'.)
  1. It's over, dahhling. Well, the show at Darling's is over, but their bananas foster cheesecake -- which is indeed bananas -- will still be there. Support your local cheesecake purveyors and stop by at 20th & Pine. But only for dessert, after . . .

  2. Brunch at Day by Day. The All Proper Philly Skyline photo show is happenin' midstream at the 21st & Sansom lunch and brunch specialist. Go get an omelette and hey, buy a picture.

  3. Rindelaub's Hole. Ok, I'm not a skyscraper contractor, but what in thee hell is going on over there at 18th & Sansom? The site's been cleared for 10 Rittenhouse Square, and there's a dirt ramp from the construction entrance into what would be the basement along 18th Street. But McGee, there ain't no construction equipment there. I walked by around 3 on Wednesday (when you'd think people would be working) and there wasn't anything happening. Strategic? Peculiar.

  4. Up yours, Punxsutawney Phil. This weekend spring is in like a lion (I think?) and the weather is going to be springtastic. (Rhymes with Comcastic, sort of.) That, along with the fact I finally shook that two week bird flu and did my taxes (thanks mom / FU BPT), means this here web site will finally have some new photo essays and neighborhood tours. The architecture of Rittenhouse Square is coming along and should be live within a week or two, but before that, I'll be bringing to Philly Skyline dot com the hottest neighborhood in the city: mine. ("I thought you lived in Fitler Square?") Well, I do. I also live in what is known as . . . Graduate Hospital Area . . . or Southwest Center City . . . or South of South . . . or G-HO . . . (just NOT "Naval Square"). Look, this is my hood. See, I live on South Street, so I can have my fancy Fitler cake and eat it with my G-Ho fork too. Philly skyline dot com has called this area home for over five years and it's overdue for some face time. From the Sidecar to Tritone, back up to Ants Pants and over to the Marian Anderson rec center, this weekend is yours, G-Ho.

  5. Philly skyline sells out. To reiterate and in fair warning: this web site will soon have its first sponsors. We're evaluating our options and clients to see how unobtrusive we can place ads that will be pertinent to this site's content. You won't bat an eyelash -- and we'll still be mad independent.

  6. 15th & Chestnut HOOPLA. Now, the truth is that Residences at the Ritz down payments have been placed, and rumor has it that 1441 Chestnut has been yet again redesigned, but the word seems to be that we're finally going to see some action at 15th & Chestnut this year. And man, don't we all hope so. As of this posting, there are still two very prime parking lots on the former Meridian Plaza site, so let's get this show on the road, FINALLY.

In the meantime, please note the continued updates of Comcast Center's construction, stop picking on hipsters, go buy the Secret Machines' new album on itunes (since it doesn't come out in stores till the end of April), go Sixers, write your Councilperson to make South Street Bridge look good as well as functioning properly and safely, we love you and good night!

–B Love


February 2006 archive
January 2006 archive