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
Op-ed: Balance Lost Buildings With Those Saved In 2018

Op-ed: Balance Lost Buildings With Those Saved In 2018

January 15, 2019  |  Soapbox

Paul Steinke of the Preservation Alliance offers a counterpoint to our Lost Buildings of 2018 list with this opinion piece > more

Jefferson Makes Room For Modernism With New Preservation Program

Jefferson Makes Room For Modernism With New Preservation Program

January 4, 2019  |  News

Jefferson University brings Modernist architecture to the forefront with their new historic preservation program and center for studies. Michael Bixler has the news > more

House Museum In North Philly Plans Monument For Former Slave

House Museum In North Philly Plans Monument For Former Slave

January 3, 2019  |  Vantage

Stenton, the former plantation house in Logan, prepares to honor Dinah with their new project, Inequality in Bronze. Keshler Thibert has the details > more

Lost Buildings of 2018

Lost Buildings of 2018

December 27, 2018  |  News

Philadelphia's preservation crisis reached a critical high in 2018 with a record-breaking number of demolition permits approved by the City. Here we highlight some of the biggest loses to our built environment in our annual end-of-year list > more

Having A Good One This Holiday Season In Philadelphia

Having A Good One This Holiday Season In Philadelphia

December 21, 2018  |  Last Light

Seasons Greetings from Hidden City! Michael Bixler dives deep into the archives and brings back a bounty of Philly holiday cheer > more

Best Architecture, Urban Design, & Public Art Of 2018

Best Architecture, Urban Design, & Public Art Of 2018

December 20, 2018  |  Vantage

It was a banner year for architecture, art, adaptive reuse, and design. JoAnn Greco shines a light on Philly's best projects of 2018 > more