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River Walk towers on the Schuylkill: 5 things to know

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According to Gensler, the architecture firm behind the project

On November 14, reports emerged that local developer PMC had revised its plans to develop two residential towers at 23rd and Arch streets, which is currently a parking lot and one of the last significant sites along the Schuylkill River.

For the River Walk project, PMC is working once again with the global architecture and design firm Gensler, which is also leading the exterior and interior renovations for Aramark’s new headquarters at 2400 Market, also located on the Schuylkill River. The River Walk proposal calls for two 32- and 28-story towers with 600 total units.

Gensler principal and design director David Epstein took some time to share more information with Curbed Philly about the revised plans for River Walk, from architectural details to amenities to a groundbreaking date. Here are five big takeaways.

Besides amenities, the towers won’t differ too much design-wise.

“There is more power in your city, more than any in America, for twin buildings,” says Epstein. Instead of designing two “totally different pieces,” Gensler aimed for variety by flipping their position so that the sun hits them in different ways, and the texture of the skins vary, too.

“There are subtleties about them, but unity about them as well,” says Epstein. “When the sun hits it over the day, it’s going to be hopefully quite magical and delightful and make it feel different than a lot of these glassy buildings of today.”

The amenities will be split between the two towers.

Epstein says that because the towers are apartment buildings offered at market rate, “it’s really all about every dollar where it counts.” So instead of two fitness centers, two pools, and so forth in both buildings, the amenities will be spread across both, connected with a pedestrian bridge. “It’s a way to force community,” says Epstein.

The north tower will feature most of the active amenities, including a pool with aerial views and a fitness center. The south tower will have more of the community spaces, says Epstein.

The apartments will likely attract millennials.

“River Walk is probably going to have a younger group—that’s just how it is in Philadelphia,” says Epstein. “With university students and recent grads, there are a lot of people that I think want a much more social life and we’re hoping the buildings make that happen.”

The hope is for a late spring/early summer groundbreaking.

Gensler is currently working on construction documents, and PMC is aiming for a late spring or early summer groundbreaking. A former developer’s zoning permit allows PMC to build by-right, but they’ll have to request an extension since it expires at the end of this year.

It’s not clear whether it will be a multi-phase project.

“That’s still being debated,” says Epstein. “We are drawing it as a single project, but I think the owners are waiting to figure out what the market looks like. But in general, they’re very bullish on the apartment rental market in Philadelphia.”