A weekly series of foul-mouthed investigations into empty lots, dead-ass proposals and other design phenomena in Philadelphia. Find more stories like this at Philaphilia.blogspot.com.
825 Walnut Street
This is the kind of Dead-Ass Proposal that really pisses me the fuck off. A highrise in a location that sorely needs it, a project that would have had huge success for multiple reasons, a replacement for a decades-old surface parking lot. This would have been a major landmark for the city and world record-breaker. What a disappointment.
On May 27, 2008, representatives from the Walnut Street Theatre, Florida-based developer Roskamp Management and architectural firm Heery International showed up at that night's Washington Square West Civic Association meeting with a new proposal that could change the neighborhood forever. On a surface parking lot located on land owned by the theatre, a 517-foot, 45-story residential building would rise. This wasn't just gonna be any old residential development. The folks from Roskamp Management were going to bill it as the World's Tallest... wait for it...
...Old Folks' Home!!! Oh, excuse me, Continuing Care Retirement Community. That's right, this was going to be a super-high-end pad for loaded Empty Nesters who wanted to throw their descendant's inheritances in the crapper. Why this? A report released a year before named Washington Square West one of the top 10 neighborhoods in the country for seniors, due to the multiple hospitals, theaters and restaurants located there. Also, the recently-completed Symphony House, another tower over a theater, proved to be quite successful.
The tower would support between 280 and 360 living units, its own medical offices, common areas, dining rooms with food service, game rooms, its own auditorium, a greenhouse and therapy room, all topped off with a green roof over 500 feet in the sky. At the ground level, an expansion of the Walnut Street Theatre would rock the block, sporting a three-story lobby, a big cafe, a restaurant and a 424-seat Theatre in the Round. A rehearsal hall and 12 actors' apartments would also be part of the building's base. Underground, 183 parking spaces would support the tower's residents.
This shit was gonna be awesome. The folks at the Walnut Street Theatre had held a nationwide competition for the design. Out of 12 entries received, the winning design came from the Philadelphia office of the Georgia-based firm Heery International. This $200 million project was seen as the idea that would secure the future of the Walnut Street Theatre, America's oldest. How can you go wrong with 300+ units full of your theater's primary target demographic living above?
|Plan for the Ground Floor.
Well, after that Civic Association meeting, this project was never heard from again. Maybe it was the housing crash, maybe the Walnut couldn't get enough funding together. Either way, this motherfucker was dead on arrival. One of the most exciting flash-in-the-pan proposals ever. "Walnut Street Theatre Tower" was just a placeholder name. This thing didn't even live long enough to get a corny real estate name! They could have called it "The Cane."
Out of all the Dead-Ass Proposals I've told you about, this one just seems to irk me more than the others. I wish it was never proposed. Actually, scratch that, I WISH IT WAS FUCKING BUILT!!!
|Alternate design for the tower.|
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