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  #101  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2008, 3:59 AM
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Originally Posted by christof View Post
Any word on when construction will staart on this project?
Try asking the question have they line up the finances for the project. I believe you need to capital financing in order to proceed? I wonder which large bank will have the excess capital to finance this project. The banking industry caught big nasty cold called the mortgage mess and is still out sick.
     
     
  #102  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2008, 2:49 PM
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The financing will be the hard part. But it may become more likely as the commodities market tanks and contractors are desperate for work and willing to work at a much lower cost.
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  #103  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2008, 9:42 PM
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I have been considering this, and I have absolutely no idea who would even finance this project at this point...the commodity market's tanking?

Bottom line, don't look for a crane there anytime soon.

Parkway, where does your quote come from?
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  #104  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2008, 11:32 PM
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My sig is from my high school history teacher describing America prior to the civil war.
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  #105  
Old Posted Aug 12, 2008, 10:01 PM
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Cool. It sounds like something out of Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett. Really great metaphor when you think about it.
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  #106  
Old Posted Aug 19, 2008, 5:04 PM
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Posted yesterday on Plan Philly. It's supposed to be Tuesday (today?) at 1--
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlanPhilly
An “information only” presentation for the proposed large-scale development for the north side of Vine Street between 16th and 17th Streets by Grasso Holdings is on the agenda. The $320 million endeavor, which has undergone various incarnations over the years, is to include a large Whole Foods supermarket and a Best Buy. There is also a 40-story, 268-room luxury hotel (Intercontinental), with apartments and condominiums on the upper floors.

A bill detailing encroachments needed for the Grasso development was passed by City Council on June 5 and signed by Mayor Nutter on June 18: http://webapps.phila.gov/council/attachments/5431.pdf
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  #107  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2008, 12:54 PM
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I posted this in the Philly thread but it didn't generate much buzz - strange b/c this is actual news...

Stamper Square, 1601, 2nd and Girard

Home » News » News

August 19
By Thomas J. Walsh
For PlanPhilly

Stamper Square (sort of) gets final approval
A re-worked “plan of development approval” for the controversial Stamper Square development, to be built on the site of the old NewMarket in Headhouse Square, was unanimously approved Tuesday afternoon by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, after the usual back-and-forth discussion and debate about the ambitious project.

The project was the final subject of an unusual (and unplanned) August Planning Commission meeting. Major developments at 16th and Vine and in Northern Liberties at 2nd and Girard were presented as “information only” sessions for the benefit of the commissioners. Both developers – David Grasso and Bart Blatstein, respectively – said they aim to break ground before the end of 2008.

The Stamper Square approval comes after City Council passed a key re-zoning ordinance for the site in May, which changed the 1.3-acre site from C-2 to C-4, allowing for height and other variances. Developer Marc Stein and his Bridgeman’s Development now need a building permit from the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections. But because the 15-story combination hotel, condominiums, restaurant and open public space is within a designated historic district, he must also face the Philadelphia Historical Commission.

Just how much authority the Historical Commission has over the project’s ultimate green light seems to be an open question. Elise Vider, deputy director of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, and Paul Boni, an attorney who lives close to the site and is against it, said after Tuesday’s meeting that the commission can hold up construction if it deems the effort unworthy of its surroundings. Both testified in front of the Planning commissioners, urging them to delay approval on the grounds that a problem with the Historical Commission would likely bring the project back to them.

But Gary Jastrzab, the Planning Commission’s acting executive director, said it was his understanding that the Historical Commission could only give a recommendation. “The [Planning] staff’s position is that this is what the neighborhood needs,” Jastrzab told PlanPhilly.

Martin Gregorski, the staff planner who made the initial presentation of approval to the commissioners, said that actually, the Historical Commission has plenty of say in the matter, and that developers would be hard-pressed to get L&I permits if another city agency says there are problems.

One thing is certain, according to one commissioner: Basic L&I paperwork lists the Historical Commission as one of the bodies that need to eyeball any given project if it is, well, historic.

Jonathan Farnham, the commission’s executive director, could not be reached for comment early Tuesday evening.

Vider and Boni said that Bridgeman’s had already been before the Historical Commission, earlier this year, and on Monday Stein confirmed that. Both parties said there was a split opinion from the commission’s architecture committee. But Stein did an end run by simply pulling his application to the Historical Commission, Vider and Boni contend, until zoning and planning approvals were in hand – that is, as of Tuesday afternoon. Stein said Monday that plans had needed alteration after settling differences with neighborhood groups, so it was necessary to pull back for a time.

In any case, the “plan of development approval,” as described by Gregorski, means that if major changes to the development are necessary, they must come through the Planning Commission first. That includes site plans, “massing” and height changes, floor area ratios and three deed restrictions for use and operation, including a sunset clause for the commencement of construction – mid-April 2009.

The split
People who live near Headhouse Square are still divided on the issue, but Bridgeman’s has seemingly made peace with the Society Hill Civic Association. An SHCA envoy was sent to convey the group’s understated blessing.

Others complained that some neighbors were being compensated for going along with the project, while those who objected are now being penalized – something that Stein and his legal counsel readily admit (though not to the concept of penalization per se). Some residents were entitled to a parking spot as part of a covenant with the former NewMarket space, the two said. If the neighbors signed on, backing the project, that spot would be delivered.

“Some neighbors had existing legal rights to parking under NewMarket,” said Bill Martin, Stein’s lawyer. “To the extent individuals were going to actively oppose approvals, we were not going to allow them” those rights.

Commissioner Camille Cates Barnett, the city’s Managing Director, wanted to make sure she had that clear, because it was also posited that neighbors who had no such pre-existing right to a valuable parking spot could also get one, in exchange for their loyalty.

Correct, Martin said (condensing his response). So, it’s not really about the past NewMarket garage agreement at all, is it? Barnett asked. That’s right, Martin said, in effect.

Eyebrows near the ceiling, Barnett looked incredulous, but did not press. Alan Greenberger, the Planning Commission’s vice chairman and its executive director-elect, did – a bit. “I have concerns about that,” he said. “I think you should rise above it.” After consultation with a lawyer for the commission, though, he dropped the subject to concentrate on planning matters.

As for the approval of the Historical Commission, Greenberger said Stein was “on a separate path needed by the developer, but that’s not for us now.” The re-zoning has been signed into law, he said, and the mayor signed it.

The neighbor with the big guns
An interesting side story developed when Greenberger questioned one of the three deed restrictions, which bars outdoor dining on the site, something that was in the original plan.

Isn’t outdoor seating at high-end restaurants what the city wants as part of a vibrant street life? Greenberger asked. What’s up with that?

Martin explained that it was the result of losing a battle to win the war – that at least two neighbors with clout threatened to sue over the matter, and one was close to a senior partner at a major Center City law firm.
Martin didn’t name names. But he did say, in no uncertain terms, that he believed that this particular neighbor may well have access to “unlimited” legal heft.

In polite terms, it was a handshake deal, in the form of a deed restriction, and in lieu of, presumably, unmitigated litigation hell from said unnamed neighbor.

This time, Greenberger was having none of it. He said if Bridgeman’s wanted to come to an agreement with an aggrieved party, it should do so privately, not under the city’s jurisdiction. Martin was fine with that – after all, the aggrieved party could end up moving, he said. If there was no deed restriction on outdoor seating, there would be no need to reappear before the Zoning Board of Adjustment. Or, he added, the angry, threatening neighbor “might die.”

Something in the way that thought was delivered, combined with Greenberger’s slight pause before continuing, gave the crowded room the opportunity for a much-needed laugh.

See website for videos: http://www.planphilly.com/node/3707/QUOTE]
     
     
  #108  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2008, 1:47 PM
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McBane, Thanks for posting. It's definitely good news but there is still so much work ahead before site preparation starts that no one is getting excited yet. In this market, coming up with the money to put this building up is going to be really tough so I would be shocked if anything happens anytime soon. Nonetheless, it is a step in the right direction.
     
     
  #109  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2008, 2:46 PM
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...

In my opinion this is the next most exciting project outside of ACC. As cool as the multiple Cira projects may be, I have lived on and off in Center City for several years and the closest I have ever come to the Cira Centre is catching a train at 30th Street Station.

Not only will 1601 provide a useable shopping destination but it will also bring one of the most respected international hotel chains to Center City. This no-mans land will instantly transform into a lively corner--and also add some great height to the northern reaches of the skyline.

As far as funding, the articles back in April seemed to suggest that there was atleast an initial interest for the majority of the funding from the French bank SocieteGenerale--and that they were in the process of securing the remaining gaps.
     
     
  #110  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2008, 5:00 PM
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It still looks like a suburban skyscraper stuck in a city to me. I'm hoping for a redesign.
     
     
  #111  
Old Posted Aug 22, 2008, 6:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Don098 View Post
It still looks like a suburban skyscraper stuck in a city to me. I'm hoping for a redesign.
Just out of curiosity, why do you say that?
     
     
  #112  
Old Posted Aug 22, 2008, 6:35 PM
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Just out of curiosity, why do you say that?
Why do I say that....hey, architecture is an art. And like any other art, it's almost impossible to describe why you're attracted to it or not. You just are or you're not. To me it looks like an overt agglomeration of past ideas and influences (and the retail tenants don't help its image either). Those double fins look like they belong in Atlantic City on some casino to me for some reason. I dunno, just looks like a C-student-architect's design. Maybe it just looks like batman ? It's not ugly, but I guess it just leaves no strong emotion with me, good or bad...very blase...faceless like most new suburban developments do. So maybe that's the emotion I'm feeling when I say it looks like a suburban skyscraper? It's just....there (or soon to be perhaps). If the design was more attractive, I bet it would have more community support.
     
     
  #113  
Old Posted Aug 22, 2008, 8:38 PM
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From the Inquirer:

D.Grasso in talks over 1600 Arch loans, subsidies
Developer David Grasso says he's "working through issues with the (Nutter) administration and PIDC, which is helping to provide subsidy" for his planned 40-story hotel-apartment-stores proposal at 1600 Vine St. (not to be confused with his brother Joseph's speculative proposal for a taller tower at 18th and Arch).
Tenants (Whole Foods, Best Buys, Intercontinental Hotel) are in line. Grosvenor of the UK (whose clients include the Pennsylvania state pension fund) is an equity investor. Societe General of France is a lender. But he's also looking for more private financing, Grasso said after the meeting.
Why should the public subsidize this building? "It'll create about 600 jobs" (hotel and retail) "and $15 million a year in sales, business privilege and wage taxes" instead of the "current $200,000 on the surface parking lot" at the site, Grasso says. Grasso vetted his plan for the Philadelphia City Planning Commission this week. Also:
Stamper Square, by Mark Stein's Bridgeman View LLC, won unanimous approval of plans for a 166-foot Starwood hotel, 77 condo units, and 350 underground parking spaces, restaurant and gym at Stamper Square (aka Head House, Society Hill). Neighbors are still divided, so this one isn't done yet.
The new Philadelphia Regional Produce Market in Eastwick, by Brian O'Neill, got planners' blessing for a 15-acre truck lot.
Bart Blatstein's Tower Investments had its union-funded apartments plan for the Schmidt's Brewery site at 2d below Girard sent to the zoning board for variances.

A plan to allow "historical designation" of building interiors (which could help preservationists prevent demolition of the Boyd theater and other landmarks) won unanimous approval. And Drexel University and Iron Stone's Falls development on Henry Ave. got approval for cutting superfluous streets.
Thanks to city planner Martin Gregorski for confirming details. Any opinion expressed is by PhillyDeals, not him.
     
     
  #114  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 2:09 PM
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The Metro's Solomon Leach has an article about 1601 Vine. I'm none too pleased about the downsizing though.

Developing situations: 1601 Vine back on track
by solomon d. leach / metro philadelphia
AUG 28, 2008

CENTER CITY. One of several hotels planned for Center City, just a few blocks from the expanding Convention Center, is expected to get under way by year’s end, according to its developer.

Grasso Holdings said its 1601 Vine Street project, which was pushed back a year, is ready to go after dealing with the credit crisis and a redesign brought on by the rising cost of construction materials.

The mixed-use development will feature a 34-story tower with the Intercontinental Hotel and 14 floors of residences, and a second tower with a Best Buy and Whole Foods.

David Grasso gave an information-only presentation last week to the city’s Planning Commission to update things even though the project already has the necessary zoning. He said the project is expected to be complete three years from the start, putting it on course with the completion of the Convention Center’s expansion.

The Planning Commission gave the project an overall thumbs up, although questions about parking and traffic flow still remain.

“The development complies with the master plan for Franklintown area and they’ve worked with the Logan Square Neighbors Association,” Gary Jastrzab, the commission’s acting executive director, said last week. “It’s consistent with the city’s vision for that site.”

The plans for 1601 Vine show structured parking and underground parking, and the project will cover up a surface parking lot now used by area residents and employees.

The development should also add vibrant retail to the edge of downtown with the Whole Foods occupying 60,000 square foot – much larger than the current location off the Ben Franklin Parkway — and a 45,000-square-foot Best Buy on the second floor.
     
     
  #115  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 2:30 PM
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so if my math is right and they keep the floor heights the same, that means this should still top out at almost 400 feet (391 feet). It will still have an impressive impact on the skyline from many angles and who knows, maybe it will even fit in better to the whole CC skyline? "Always look at the bright side of life!"
     
     
  #116  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 2:46 PM
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By the end of the year eh?
     
     
  #117  
Old Posted Aug 28, 2008, 6:25 PM
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The reduction in height makes me sad...but I guess beggars can't be choosers...having a whole foods and best buy two blocks from school and 6 blocks from home is going to be very very nice. And an Intercontinental is going to be crazy good for our image...

Now we just need a Mandarin...1441 anyone?
     
     
  #118  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2009, 10:11 PM
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Bummer Face

Quote:
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
D. Grasso delays 1600 Vine, modifies terms with tenants and lender

Developer David Grasso's proposed 46-story mixed-use tower in the 1600 block of Vine St. has been delayed like so many projects that were supposed to start last year, or the year before.

"We restructured our debt on the property," with lender Hudson Realty Capital of New York, "and bought ourselves two to three more years to build the thing," said Grasso, owner of Grasso Holdings. "Took us six months. It was very painful. We had to pay down part of the principal."

Grasso said he's also in talks with tenants who backed the project. Intercontinental Hotels is negotiating to extend its deal for a year. "Best Buy wants a better deal. And Whole Foods wants a better deal, but I'm not sure I can afford them anymore." He said he's signed an initial letter with another supermarket owner just in case.

Equity investor Grosvenor Investment Management continues to back the project, Grasso says. He's going to try to get city approval for tax-increment financing (TIF) to make the project cheaper to fund.

To keep his people busy during the slowdown, Grasso says he's been consulting with lenders who have started taking over half-built condos and other over-leveraged, under-leased developments. "Everyone in our office who was doing development deals, is working with banks now," he said. "Brian O'Neill and other developers are doing this too. Banks are looking for seasoned professionals to handle complex real estate deals, construction, leasing, property management. Rather than laying off people en masse, I'm changing my focus to asset management and working for other people."
http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/i...nd_lender.html
     
     
  #119  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2009, 11:04 PM
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That is a bummer...but at least its not canceled...yet.
     
     
  #120  
Old Posted Jan 28, 2009, 3:41 PM
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Well it's scary to think...here's a project thats backed, tenants lined up and ready to go and it can't get off the ground. If this equation doesn't go, nothing will. I'm curious to see what how the discussions on TIF go.
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