In the News...1213 Walnut to Bring Yoga Terrace, Elevated Dog Park and Luxury Rentals to Midtown Village

Published Dec 8, 2015
Dec 8, 2015

By: James Jennings

It’s been a banner year for long-stalled projects getting a fresh start. The W Hotel, 1911 Walnut, The Bridge (205 Race), The Divine Lorraine–the list goes on and on.

Tuesday marked the much-anticipated restart of a tower project at the surface parking lot at 1213 Walnut Street, often referred to as “Fergie’s Tower” after the popular bar on Sansom Street the structure will eventually surround when it opens in summer 2017. So we can add one more project to that aforementioned list–1213 Walnut.

Though signs have been pointing to this day for a while now, the partnership of The Goldenberg Group, Hines and ASB Real Estate Investments officially got it over the hump, breaking ground on a 322-unit apartment and retail project geared towards attracting the sophisticated and carless urban dweller. (Actually, the key players, including John Dougherty and Councilman Mark Squilla, donned bike helmets and cut a ribbon that wrapped a set of five colorful bike racks, which the group announced they will be donating to the neighborhood. We have now seen it all.)

The bike racks and helmets were more than a quirky twist on the traditional silver-plated-shovels-in-dirt ceremony. Seth Shapiro, chief operating officer with Goldenberg Development, hailed the building's design by Design Collective Inc. as meeting millennials and empty nesters–the driving force behind much, if not all, of the new development in the city–where they are in life and not "retrofitting" the experience. The project at 1213 Walnut will provide this diverse group with everything they could ever want in a building, including access to all the action in Midtown Village.

By the time it's finished in 2017, the 26-story building will boast over 11,000-square-feet of resident community space, including a great room, gaming area and entertainment kitchen. Typically a staple for a project of this scale, the design is without a parking garage, swapping it instead for bike storage and workshop.

“We’ve seen this across the country: America is undergoing a dramatic, long-term transformation, a ‘re-urbanization,’ if you will, of our country," said Robert Bellinger, president and CEO of ASB Real Estate Investments. "People are abandoning the suburbs for the excitement, vibrancy and diversity of city life. I mean, the Main Line seems pretty nice, but that is old news.

"They don’t want their home to be more than 20 minutes from their job and frankly, they don’t want to own a car."

The project will be certified LEED Silver, featuring multiple outdoor amenity spaces–including an indoor/outdoor fitness center with yoga terrace, a separate roof deck and a private elevated dog park–and also sport a green roof. Shapiro joked that the LEED process started with the ceremony, as they didn't pay to heat the tent on a sunny, yet chilly December day.

Over 7,200-square-feet of retail will front Walnut and Sansom streets, with 322 state of the art studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units filling out the 20-something floors above.  Shapiro also gave a shout out to the developer U3 Ventures and architect Cecil Baker, whose previous vision for the site flamed out amid the onset of the Great Recession nearly a decade ago.

"Some projects have the opportunity to fill in space and be an important jewel in a bigger crown," said Ken Goldenberg, founder and CEO of The Goldenberg Group. "Midtown Village is already developing nicely–a vibrant restaurant and residential scene, not far from Broad Street, on Walnut Street–so we’re just putting another hopefully great jewel in a crown of this area that’s already developed.”

The press release contained an interesting note that probably shouldn't be overlooked, especially during this development boom: "The project represents the first venture by the partnership of Goldenberg, Hines and ASB."

It makes us wonder if this trio has something cooking for the not-too-distant future. “1213 Walnut is particularly significant to Hines as it is our first development project in Philadelphia," said Daniel Moore, Hines managing director, in the press release. "We look forward to setting a new bar for top-quality multifamily product in Center City and to growing our presence in the city."

In addition to owning the high-profile lot at 8th and Market, The Goldenberg Group was recently chosen as the developer at the Logan Triangle. “We’ve got a number of very exciting properties," said Goldenberg, a former civil rights attorney and whose group operates People Helping People Foundation, a charity that helps the less fortunate in Philadelphia, Kenya and Ivory Coast. "We work as hard as we can at figuring out how to maximize their potential for the sake of the community."

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