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Historic Lincoln building reborn as apartments in Washington Square West

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The building is onto its final (hopefully) chapter

The Lincoln at 1222 Locust has re-opened as a luxury apartment building, more than 10 years after being ravaged by a fire.
Photo by Melissa Romero

Like so many old buildings in Philadelphia, the Lincoln in Washington Square West has a long and storied past. In its many lives, the 125-year-old building at 1222 Locust has served as a hotel, a YWCA, a flophouse, even a seedy night club.

Today, in a quite literal “rising from the ashes” kind of story, the Lincoln, designed by George H. Fettus in 1892, is onto its next and hopefully final role, officially opening at the start of 2017 as a 44-unit luxury apartment building.

The grand opening in January was a welcome return for the historic building, which had sat boarded up for years after a major fire ravaged its interiors in 2006, leaving a shell of a building on the corner of Camac and Locust.

The Lincoln at 1222 Locust in 1917.
Courtesy of

In 2014, just two days from its impending demolition, local developer PRDC Properties managed to acquire the property for $1.8 million. They worked with Powers & Company, Inc. to restore the building’s certified historic exterior, bringing the brick facade and terra-cotta trim back to life. A sixth floor was added, as well as a community roof deck.

For the apartment build outs, the developer brought on Shimi Zakin of the local architecture firm Atrium Design Group, who’s known for his high-end, custom luxury residential work. PRDC Properties president Jon Thomas likes to describe the apartments as having experienced the “Shimi Effect.”

“He just knows his finishes and we jive really well with his design aesthetic,” adds Brandon Morrison, PRDC’s chief operating officer.

PRDC Properties/Melissa Romero

Top: The top floor of the Lincoln prior to renovations. Now, the renovated apartment is the one unit in the building will access to a wrap-around balcony. Bottom: The view from the private balcony of a renovated apartment on the top floor of the Lincoln.

There are 44 units total, including a mix of studio, 1-, and 2-bedrooms, plus one 3-bedroom unit with wide-plank oak floors. For the smaller units, Zakin added space-saving details like quartz counters with a waterfall effect that double as eat-in kitchens. The kitchen cabinetry are by Porcelanosa, and the bedroom closets can be customized by each tenant.

It’s clear that the units take on a more luxurious bent than an average apartment buildings. Thomas said the intention was “build the apartments like we do our luxury homes.” That allows the rents to remain competitive at the Lincoln, ranging from $1,600 for a junior suite to $2,050 for a 1-bedroom unit to $2,800 for a 2-bedroom.

As of the end of January 2017, the Lincoln was 50 percent leased. It’s attracted a hodge-podge mix of tenants, from millennials to med students to older residents, according to Thomas.

PRDC Properties

In total, the project took two years and six months to complete and cost $15 million. Given the deteriorated state of the building that they inherited, renovations took a few months longer than planned, says Thomas.

But the extension means the Lincoln’s return comes at a time in Philly when construction cranes and new builds continue to rise up all around it. So as the final finishes are added to the last couple of apartments at 1222 Locust, Thomas says, “In the end, this was just all about good timing.”