Chestnut Filling

Beneficial Bank’s interior is ready for construction / Photo: Kevin McMahon

The energy that developer Tony Goldman catalyzed on 13th Street in Center City finally seems to be pushing eastward. Significant new development, already underway, will mean new life for an area that was once the commercial heart of Philadelphia.

If all goes as planned, the abandoned Beneficial Savings Fund Bank at 12th and Chestnut will become 1200 Bank, an upscale billiards hall and bar, sometime mid-2012. The imposing Classical Revival bank was designed by Horace Trumbauer and constructed in 1915. Its voluminous interior spaces–with coffered ceiling and Corinthian pilasters–will serve as an elaborate backdrop for pleasure. Although neighbors’ concerns about noise from a proposed rooftop bar threatened to derail the project, legislationpassed by City Council in April created the zoning changes necessary for the development to move forward. Developer Paul Giegerich’s reuse concept demonstrates how Chestnut Street’s many outstanding but vacant buildings can be creatively reused. The landmark pool palace is an updated version of

Commonwealth Apartments / Photo: Kevin McMahon

the billiards renewal of the 1990s; it joins the Lucky Strike bowling alley, a block up the street, to form a new kind of entertainment space in Center City, expanding the nighttime nucleus beyond 13th and Sansom.

Just across the street, the finished conversion of the former Commonwealth Title & Trust Company at 1201 Chestnut Street to the Commonwealth Apartments adds several hundred new residents very center of what Goldman once called “the hole in the doughnut.” The adaptive reuse of the seductive 15-story building, constructed in 1902, will lead to new retail and service businesses like the just opened Milkboy Coffee, at 11th and Chestnut, in the former TS Health Mart. Milkboy, an expansion of the well-known Ardmore coffee shop, is the type of business that Chestnut Street hasn’t recently been able to support.

Milkboy Coffee / Photo: Kevin McMahon

Goldman gets enormous credit for this transformation. Our sense is that the spillover to Chestnut Street is only now about to take off. More is coming–and we’ll be there to follow it.

About the author

Kevin McMahon recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an M.S. in Historic Preservation and now works as an associate at Powers & Company, historic preservation consultants. He’s interested in architecture, development and the infinite layers, physical and historical, that Philadelphia contains.



Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
From <em>Click</em> To Clink: A History Of Mug Shots In The Quaker City

From Click To Clink: A History Of Mug Shots In The Quaker City

September 20, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. gives us the backstory of Philadelphia's Rogues' Gallery, which has been tracking criminals in photographic form since the 1860s > more

Unlisted Philadelphia: Automobile Row

Unlisted Philadelphia: Automobile Row

September 18, 2018  |  Unlisted Philadelphia

Ben Leech spotlights unique and significant buildings not listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places with his architectural illustration series, Unlisted Philadelphia. In this installment, he puts the pedal to the metal on Automobile Row > more

Abandoned Navy Hangar Prepares For Final Battle

Abandoned Navy Hangar Prepares For Final Battle

September 14, 2018  |  Last Light

A demolition study for the Mustin Field Seaplane Hangar at the Navy Yard puts a structural engineering landmark on notice. Michael Bixler takes us inside > more

Twitter Bot Reveals Revenue Loss From Tax Abatement

Twitter Bot Reveals Revenue Loss From Tax Abatement

September 13, 2018  |  News

Starr Herr-Cardillo catches up with the software engineer behind Philly Tax Abatements, a new Twitter account that aggregates the cost of City money lost to the 10-year tax abatement > more

Harvey Finkle: Photographer Seeks Justice For The Other

Harvey Finkle: Photographer Seeks Justice For The Other

September 10, 2018  |  Walk the Walk

New photography exhibition explores South Philly's Jewish communities and the city's transitioning immigrant populations. Joe Brin has the story > more

New Book Gives Insight Into Uncovering Philly History

New Book Gives Insight Into Uncovering Philly History

September 6, 2018  |  Vantage

Mickey Herr sits down with author and Philly historian extraordinaire Kenneth Finkel to discuss his new book, "Insight Philadelphia" > more