With a who’s who of Philly politics in attendance and a decidedly techno soundtrack (i.e. not TSOP), Carl Dranoff today announced the coming of SLS International. The hotel-condo tower, whose news the Hidden City Daily broke last month, will break ground in 2014 at 301-311 South Broad Street—the longtime home of Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records.
With 150 hotel rooms and 125 luxury condominiums, SLS International will stand at 47 stories and 562′ tall, the tallest original residential building in Pennsylvania. (Two Liberty Place, which is half residential, opened in 1990 solely as an office tower.) “Yes, that is taller than William Penn,” Carl Dranoff said to a laughing crowd. “The name pays homage to Philadelphia International Records,” he said. Acknowledging Kenny Gamble with a wave, he thanked him for everything he’s done for the city, then said that his favorite song was the O’Jays’ “Peace Train”—a faux-pas quickly corrected by someone in the front to “Love Train,” drawing more laughter from everyone, including Gamble (but perhaps not Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens). “Well, it was about peace,” Dranoff said, correcting himself.
Gene Kohn, principal of Kohn Pedersen Fox, the firm responsible for the glass tower with fins (“metal or stone, we’re not quite sure yet,” he mentioned), called the building a “marker on the skyline of the arts district.”
The Avenue of the Arts was indeed a recurring topic during the hourlong press event, and many, including Dranoff, Councilman Mark Squilla, and especially Mayor Michael Nutter, cited former Mayor and Governor Ed Rendell for his foresight and belief in the Avenue of the Arts as a district. “At this tipping point for South Broad Street, we need to recognize Ed Rendell,” Nutter said before half-jokingly saying that his staff always says how happy everyone was during Rendell’s eight years as mayor.
Nutter also suggested directly to Kohn, Dranoff, and Sam Nazarian, president of SBE Entertainment (parent company of SLS Hotels), to “be mindful of the man who made that building across the street—Kenny Gamble (and his wife Faatimah and partner Leon Huff)… to incorporate recognition of the history across the street,” not only as the home of Philadelphia International Records (and Cameo-Parkway Records), but also as the offices of Wilson Goode, Philadelphia’s first African-American mayor.
Nutter’s suggestion was the only hint of the demolition to come. Before 2014 even begins, two buildings will start the Lost Buildings of 2014 list. (We’ll present our annual Top Ten Lost Buildings of the Year before the year’s end.) Fortunately, an action plan has already formed for its replacement, and it includes people who get things done. And at least partially in name, the legacy of Philadelphia International will live on as SLS International.
Two Liberty Place is almost 300′ taller and has condos. How will this be “the tallest residential building in Pennsylvania”?
Max, that’s a great point. This is to be the tallest built AS a residential building. I’ve updated the story accordingly.
why is there any action being done to save the other building that will be demolished? The Philadelphia International building has gotten too much attention and has, thereby, distracted preservationists from this far more considerable architectural gem with its terracotta ornamentation, which is going to be lost. I don’t see why the facade couldn’t be maintained with some creative design solution, such as the new design for Azalea Gardens on 40th and Pine which both adds housing to the neighborhood while preserving the already existent mansion on the lot.
On another note-Forgive me, but I find that chummy behavior between Dranoff and Randell to be quite disgusting.Why can’t there be a more creative way to revive the city’s corridors besides faceless condos and hotel chains? The only art I see on the avenue of the arts is the fine art of real estate speculation-but this has always been Rendell’s vision.
Your right about saving 311 s broad , the terra cotta one . It would make a nice separate entrance for the condo part , that ugly one across cypress you can demo today. It’s just ugly . Is cypress demoed as well ?
They really should incorporate it into the plan .
“Fortunately, an action plan has already formed for its replacement, and it includes people who get things done.” The action plan to replace what? Please say Philadelphia International! I just did not understand.
I’m just appalled how little Philadelphia seems to care about its music. It’s not even history, exactly, as this gold is still played everywhere (and in the original version, not only hip hop sampling). It’s some of the best music ever made in the USA. Every bit as significant as Motown and Stax, which each have museums.
I can see saving and incorporating that history into a museum somewhere or infusing it into the lobby of the building but , saving what ? That’s my problem , the Philadelphia int building is a dog….. Period ! It’s neigh or ( 311 s broad … I think ! ) Now that’s a structure that’s got a face worth saving. And cypress st should be left alone . If they can’t work that into the plan then they’ve got no talent. Somebody needs to grow a set and say , cypress stays along with the face of 311 ( WORK WITH IT ! ) . Other city’s hold onto their history why joy ours. And let’s be honest , the structures would be so much more interesting .
Where is former mayor Street, the man who gave Gamble/Universal prime center city properties for free so he can partner with Dranoff to build luxury housing for empty nester suburbanites. Very noble how these characters come together to celebrate each other.
Thank you,taxpayers, for subsidizing their achievements!