By Shannon Rooney The cachet of living in a high-rise listed on the National Register of Historic Places is pretty obvious. The beauty of living in one that has been rehabilitated and preserved under the watchful eye of the Philadelphia Historic Commission, Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service is that you get the perks of history (wrought-iron gates in the elevator bays, arched windows, the world's most charming mail chute) along with the luxuries of modern living (granite countertops, energy-efficient windows, stainless steel appliances).
History and modern amenities have lured residents to The Arch to such a degree that close to 70 percent of the building's 111 apartments have been leased. The first residents moved in a few weeks ago, and Scully Company predicts that nearly a third of the apartments will be occupied by the end of August. Construction is ongoing, but is expected to be completed by early September.
The high-rise, known as the Robert Morris building, was built originally in 1914 as an office building for the Methodist church. It was expanded into a missionary boarding house with an additional eight floors in 1922. It was converted to a hotel during the 1950s before becoming a secular office building in the 1970s. During the 1980s the building was completely renovated and placed on the National Register.
Readers familiar with Center City development may remember that in 2007 the building was slated to become a Klimpton hotel. After the deal went south with the economy, several alternate concepts — including student housing — were thrown around. 806 Capital and Federal Capital Partners eventually settled on luxury apartments.
In addition to a few large studio apartments, the building is now made up primarily of one- and two-bedroom units. Each is outfitted with hardwood flooring, individual laundry facilities and climate control. Some of the larger units include en-suite bathrooms. Residents will have access to a brand new workout facility and lounge, still under construction. A media and entertainment room with stadium seating will be available to residents on a reservation basis for private functions as well.
The penthouse level on the 15th floor features apartments with upgraded fixtures and kitchen islands. The most impressive selling point of the building's top floor are the views. In addition to sight lines down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, residents can literally look across the street and catch their own reflections in the mirrored exterior of the Comcast Center. Who wouldn't call their own visage the best view in Center City?
If you're not already sold on seeing your face on the side of the Comcast Center, keep in mind that you'll also be within a stone's throw of the newly renovated (and enormous!) Wawa downstairs. Developer Leo Addimando also promises additional street-level retail including a health-food store and a combination nail salon/day spa unlike any other in Philly. If that's still not enough, just try sending a letter down that original mail chute without smiling.
· Robert Morris Building Ready for You and Your Beagle [CPHI]