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

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Final Plans To Transfer Philadelphia History Museum Collection To Drexel University Unveiled

Final Plans To Transfer Philadelphia History Museum Collection To Drexel University Unveiled

September 12, 2019  |  City Life, History

The Philadelphia History Museum is officially dead. The large collection of beloved city artifacts will be transferred to Drexel University. Kimberly Haas has the news > more

Hidden City Daily Celebrates Eight Years Of Publishing

Hidden City Daily Celebrates Eight Years Of Publishing

September 11, 2019  |  City Life

September marks Hidden City Daily's 8th year of publishing. To toast the occasion we look back at the past 12 months with a curated list of our top 15 stories. > more

Settlement Houses: Doing Good In The Neighborhood

Settlement Houses: Doing Good In The Neighborhood

September 9, 2019  |  History

Stacia Friedman takes a look at Philadelphia's long tradition of providing social welfare and education through settlement houses, some of which still serve communities today > more

Until Death Do Us Part: An Ode To Philadelphia Book Collecting

Until Death Do Us Part: An Ode To Philadelphia Book Collecting

September 6, 2019  |  History

In celebration of National Read A Book Day, Mickey Herr dives deep into the stacks at some of Philadelphia's most historic and obscure libraries > more

Bootleggers & Back Alley Bars: Philadelphia During Prohibition A City

Bootleggers & Back Alley Bars: Philadelphia During Prohibition A City “Soaked In Alcohol”

September 4, 2019  |  History

Speakeasies are all the rage these days. The revival finds its roots in secret cocktail lounges that opened after the 18th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Pennsylvania got a head start and outlawed alcohol in 1919. Amy Cohen takes a look back at Philadelphia during Prohibition on the 100-year anniversary of the ban > more

From Flophouse To Fairfield Inn: Memories & The Makeover Of A Troubled Hotel

From Flophouse To Fairfield Inn: Memories & The Makeover Of A Troubled Hotel

August 30, 2019  |  City Life

Like a chain-smoking phoenix rising from the ashes, the infamous Parker Hotel at 13th and Spruce reopened in 2018 after major renovations and decades of decline. Hidden City contributor Stacia Friedman takes a look back at the former transient hotel with memories of her grandparents' pharmacy next door > more