Conversion Project To Densify Problem Block
Marked by low occupancy, graffiti and poor foot traffic, the 1100 Block of Chestnut Street is a rare remaining example of Center City’s bad old days. Developers however have just received approval to transform a large part of this neglected street for the better.
At a recent Zoning Board meeting, an affiliate of Brickstone Realty won approval from the City to construct a mixed use residential/commercial conversion project on Chestnut Street near its intersection with 12th Street. When completed this three building project will feature two floors of dedicated retail and commercial spaces with 80 rental apartments above.
The project, located on 1118-28 Chestnut Street, comes as a major boost for one of Center City’s least desirable blocks, whose mix of vacant store fronts, low-end retail and handful of municipal service centers form an unpleasant atmosphere for pedestrians between the dynamic Washington Square West and Independence Mall neighborhoods.
Despite its current state though, 1100 block of Chestnut Street has natural assets, as it is strategically situated between the booming Jefferson Hospital campus and the commercial and retail spaces along 13th Street. Developers likely believe new construction will allow them to take advantage of this prime yet under-developed location.
Indeed, over the past several decades numerous Philadelphia neighborhoods have experienced sustained growth thanks to projects (like 1118-28 Chestnut) which increase local population density. Philadelphia’s pedestrian-friendly scale also plays a role, as new residents are able to support businesses on their very own block. The successful rehabilitation of Northern Liberties and University City are great examples of this development strategy.
Nearly three decades on then, it’s good to see that private businesses and the City still recognize that increased population density is the key to Philadelphia’s continued structural and economic redevelopment.