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

Nathaniel Popkin is co-founder of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (with Peter Woodall and Joseph E.B. Elliott) and two novels, Everything is Borrowed and Lion and Leopard. He is co-editor of Who Will Speak for America, an anthology forthcoming in June 2018, and the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."



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

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

October 12, 2018  |  Walk the Walk

Move over Miami, the Philadelphia Design District is getting ready for some time in the spotlight. The coalition of gallery owners, artisans, and tech startups want to transform Old City into a hive of contemporary design, while preserving the neighborhood's historic character. Joe Brin takes a look inside the idea with co-founder Eugenie Perret > more

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

October 9, 2018  |  News

Owners of Germantown Boys and Girls Club reach an agreement with preservationists after two years of heated debate. Starr Herr-Cardillo has the news > more

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

October 4, 2018  |  Buzz

Manhattan-based bookstore and café revives an old banking storefront in Rittenhouse Square. Michael Bixler takes a look > more

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

October 2, 2018  |  Vantage

After nearly a decade of lost opportunities, creative new strategies emerge for protecting Philadelphia's historic neighborhoods > more

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

September 28, 2018  |  Vantage

This summer contributor Mickey Herr recorded the slow demolition of Christian Street Baptist Church from the beginning to the end. In this photo essay she shares what it was like to watch a 128-year-old neighborhood landmark being reduced to rubble > more

New Audio Archive Gives Voice To Philly Immigration History

New Audio Archive Gives Voice To Philly Immigration History

September 26, 2018  |  News

Relive Philly public history in high fidelity through those who came before us. Historian Janneken Smucker gives us a listen inside the inner workings of the digital oral history project, "Philadelphia Immigration" > more