Big Changes Coming to Philly Skyline

It seems like every week developers announce plans to build a major new residential project in and aroundCenter City. All this construction has the potential to bring big changes to Philadelphia.


The week from February 12th and February 19th, 2014 was an extraordinary one for Philadelphia’s real estate sector. In those seven days, not one but three plans for large residential projects were made public. Between designs for a 32-story apartment tower at 16th and Vine, an 8.5 acre, multi-story residential complex at 23rd and Arch and a 429 foot residential/commercial development at 7th and Market, these projects (if approved) would add hundreds of new apartments to Philadelphia at roughly the same time.


These announcements come on the heels of nearly a dozen other major highrise residential projects that are either under-construction or in the works. This, coupled with literally dozens of smaller low-rise developments, suggest Philadelphia is entering a building boom the likes of which it not seen in decades.


Before you reach for the antacids, let’s note that all signs point to the strength and potential of the local real estate market. A recent survey of sales and investments in central Philadelphia neighborhoods for the year 2013 confirmed this. While the residential rental vacany rate in Center City has increased slightly over the past year due to more supply, the rate of 3.3% is still very healthy. Developers then are likely trying to strike while this iron is hot (which it strongly appears to be).


Of course, in a city with such a rich cultural and architectural legacy, we have to hope this new building fits in with and encourages the growth of Philadelphia’s unique urbanism and beauty. Critics have pointed out that not all these projects achieve those goals.


These projects, if completed, could have myriad effects – some bad, some good. While too many new apartments could depress the rental market, too few could slow the growing investment in Philadelphia. One thing is for sure though: it’s becoming clear that our skyline will look very different in just a few years time…


Opening image “Comcast Center construction” by Cool890. Original uploader was Cool890 at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia(Original text : Cool890). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Comcast_Center_construction.jpg#/media/File:Comcast_Center_construction.jpg.

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