500 Walnut, the ultra-luxurious condo building that’s on the rise at the last open site behind Independence Hall, is on track to top off by the end of this year.
"Finally, the construction progress is visible," developer Tom Scannapieco tells Curbed Philly. "For a long time, we were working underground and you couldn’t see any of it."
When the 26-story residential tower is fully built—it broke ground in 2014—it will feature 35 high-end, 3- to 4-bedroom units, which are fetching some of the most expensive asking prices in the city. Designed by Cecil Baker + Partners, the skinny building was designed to boast views of Independence Hall without obstructing the views of the historical park from the mall.
Half of the units have been sold, says Scannapieco, who in June broke his own real estate record by selling the 8,900-square-foot penthouse at 500 Walnut for $17.85 million, the most expensive residential sale in Philadelphia’s history.
But there’s still plenty of work to be done. One of the many amenities expected at 500 Walnut is the robotic parking garage, which parks and retrieves residents’ cars for them, turning a 15-minute valet process into a two-minute task. "We had to plan that early on in designing the building because it’s very specific in its architectural requirements," says Scannapieco, who also included the feature in his first project 1706 Rittenhouse.
Currently, the car chamber is being built and the equipment is being manufactured. It’s expected to be installed in the next two to three months, he says.
Once the building is built, the residents’ own units will be constructed. "It’s a project that is meant to appeal to the high-end buyer and it’s designed in ways that encourage customization," says Scannapieco.
"Most of the times in high-rise environments, developers attempt to minimize change, but we know that our buyers are going to want to customize their units so we go to great extents to try to facilitate their ability to make changes."
For example, they increased the thickness of the concrete floors to reduce the number of columns in each unit. Plumbing fixtures locations were also considered, in order to allow residents to pick and choose where they want their bathrooms and kitchens located.
Scannapieco says the building is "going up a story every week," and the first move-in is scheduled for May or June of next year.