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Rites of Rental Passage: 2116 Chestnut Gets Its Cherry on Top

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If all goes as planned, next summer Philly renters will have even more options to choose from: the building at 2116 Chestnut—which was topped off today—will have 321 rental units. In celebration of today's topping off, the 34-story building now boasts a new website, though there's nothing there yet except for a contact form. There'll be updates and tenant applications when it's closer to being done. Given that the apartments are being billed as "luxury" residences, we're expecting the price points to be pretty high.

Aside from the apartments, there will also be 9,150 square feet of retail space and more than 100 enclosed parking spots. The building will be 360,000 square feet overall.

If you're having trouble remembering what used to be in that spot, it was the modernist Sidney Hillman Medical Center designed by Louis Magaziner. Dilapidated though it was, it held a special place in many Philadelphians' hearts—and not just people who understood why the preservation of modernist buildings is important. There were plenty of other people who just considered it a stalwart, if only due to years of walking by and thinking, "That place is weird and kind of dirty."

Because it was a modernist structure, the developers of 2116 had to make a case for its demolition before the the Philadelphia Historical Commission. PlanPhilly had this to say about it in 2009:

In a letter for support of its preservation, David Brownlee, a University of Pennsylvania architectural historian, praised the building for its design, history and innovation and included it on a list of significant Modernist structures in Philadelphia. ... Folks at First Unitarian Church were also concerned about the implications:

The front of the church contains a round rose window created in 1891 by renowned artist John La Farge. The placement of the window causes a "Stonehenge effect" – at the winter solstice, the light from the window shines directly into the middle of the sanctuary. That light would be blocked by the proposed apartment building.

It's interesting to remember all the objections to the building on a day that really proves it's here. Eventually, all the opposition gets forgotten, and things like dirty modernist buildings and stained glass reflections vanish. How many such ghosts do we walk by every day?