Atlantic Building Plans Shift Retail Paradigm

 

Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

Michael Pestronk, a principal in the real estate development firm Post Brothers, told the Hidden City Daily today that his firm’s reuse and renovation of the Atlantic Building, at Broad and Spruce, will include seven floors–110,00 square feet–of retail. The developers are marketing the space to department stores, large format restaurants, and big box retailers.

Designed by the architect Joseph Franklin Kuntz in 1922 as an office tower for the Atlantic Refining Company, the renovated building will also house about 200 apartments.

In comparison to New York and Chicago, there are few multi-story retail buildings of this nature in Philadelphia, said Pestronk.

“We definitely think there is a strong demand for retail space in Philadelphia from national firms,” he said.

One issue keeping such firms away from Philadelphia has been the configuration of downtown buildings. “The best retailers want to be near to each other on Walnut Street. The problem is that those spaces are only 3,000 square feet.”

Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

For the Post Brothers, with projects ongoing in Germantown and Callowhill, the Atlantic Building is the first foray into Center City. At 12th and Callowhill, where the firm is converting the former Goldtex factory to apartments, Post Brothers’ confrontation with city trade unions over the developer’s use of mixed union and non-union contractors has reached an “uneasy detente,” with union protests backing off and project continuing, albeit about three months behind schedule. The first tenants should move in in March, said Pestronk.

“No deal [with the unions] was made,” he said. “They decided to stop picketing. But, honestly, I couldn’t tell you what is going to happen.”

That same uncertainly surrounds the Atlantic project. Pestronk said the firm’s usual formula is still being followed. “All things being equal, we prefer to use union. We’ll bid the job out. Our hope is to be able to pick union bids because they will have offered us the best mix of cost, quality, and schedule.”

Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

Another challenge facing the project is the issue of retail signage on an historically certified building with facade easements. Any sign proposal will take four to six months for approvals by multiple agencies.

The art deco murals inside the building lobby will be preserved.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is also senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine.



2 Comments


  1. Oh very encouraging! I do wonder which department store could land here and do well. I don’t know if there is a market for Macy’s to plant a Bloomingdale’s here, but that would be great.

    Everyone always mentions Cheesecake Factory, so this could finally be that opportunity to put everyone’s caloric intake off the charts.

    We do need a Bed Bath and/or a Target, but I’d rather have that at Market East or maybe on Arch St. in Logan Sq. instead of this location.

  2. The property in question, 258-62 S. Broad Street, is not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Therefore, the Philadelphia Historical Commission would not review proposals for signage or other alterations to the building.
    Jon Farnham, Philadelphia Historical Commission

Trackbacks

  1. Philadelphia 2035 - Page 85 - City-Data Forum
  2. Why are national retailers reluctant to locate in Center City? - Page 42
  3. Questioning Blatstein’s casino dreams | Atlantic Building mega retail | against Lit Bros roof sign | 21st and Bainbridge open | keeping winter rec programs
  4. Walnut Street renovations complete | Philadelphia Real Estate Blog
Recent Posts
Roxborough’s Historic Benjamin Kenworthy House Preserved

Roxborough’s Historic Benjamin Kenworthy House Preserved

December 24, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Native son buys property, will rehab it, prepping for Christmas masses at the basilica, and PWD installs stormwater management system in South Philadelphia > more

A Holiday Oasis Under The Highway At Sam's Christmas Land

A Holiday Oasis Under The Highway At Sam’s Christmas Land

December 24, 2014  |  Last Light

Sam's Christmas Land is as Philly as it gets. During the holidays this closed-for-the-season water ice stand transforms into an over the top Xmas shop and outdoor neighborhood hang out. Kim Massare warms up near the fire bucket at Port Richmond's best kept holiday secret > more

Deck The Trolleys!

Deck The Trolleys!

December 23, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Inside Dave Musgrove’s jolly trolley, the outlet behind a South Philadelphia holiday tradition, the ceremonial groundbreaking for Ralph Brooks Park redesign, and SFD taking shape in South Kensington > more

What's That Out There? South Street's Beloved Space Station

What’s That Out There? South Street’s Beloved Space Station

December 23, 2014  |  Walk the Walk

Ready your ray guns! Joe Brin blasts off from South Street with fond memories of the space-age toy store Rocketships & Accessories > more

Take ’Er Easy, Pilgrim Congregational

Take ’Er Easy, Pilgrim Congregational

December 22, 2014  |  News

Vaya con Dios, Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ. Demolition of the 163-year-old Fishtown church begins today. Brad Maule provides its obituary and asks a simple question: Isn't it about time Philadelphia had a comprehensive survey of historic buildings? > more

PennDOT To Cap Only Part of Vine Street Expressway During Bridge Replacement

PennDOT To Cap Only Part of Vine Street Expressway During Bridge Replacement

December 22, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Harrisburg says not enough money, Tilden Middle School to “blend” learning strategies, and two buildings approved for South Kensington > more