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Developer eyes Ritz Five in Society Hill for next high-rise project

Tom Scannapieco has started talks with neighbors

Developer Tom Scannapieco has proposed building a high-rise condo tower at the Ritz Five in Society Hill.
via Google Streetview

As his 26-story tower 500 Walnut inches its way toward completion, developer Tom Scannapieco is eyeing the nearby Ritz Five movie theater for his next big project.

Earlier this month, the developer presented plans to build a tower at 214 Walnut Street to the Society Hill Civic Association. According to the Philadelphia Free Press, Scannapieco said the proposed tower would be similar to 500 Walnut in that it would include a small number of units—30 to 50—that would come at a high price per square foot. The plan also calls for a low-rise use of the Nelson building next door.

Scannapieco is also working again with architect Cecil Baker, who designed 500 Walnut.

The proposal is still very much in the beginning stages, but at the meeting there were talks of moving the Ritz Five—one of the few movie theaters in the city—into the Nelson building, according to Naked Philly. Scannapieco has not bought the theater just yet.

The theater was built in 1976 and designed by Geddes, Brecher, Qualls & Cunningham, the same firm responsible for the Brutalist Police Administration’s “Roundhouse” building.

A residential tower would certainly be an interesting addition to the area, which right now consists of a cobblestoned intersection of Walnut and Dock streets that includes the Ritz Five, the restaurant Positano, and the historic Merchant’s Exchange building. The Society Hill Towers are within plain view, too.

Notably, the Nelson building is also next door to a single-family residence at 232-36 Walnut Street. When it listed for $16,795,000 million in September 2016, it was the most expensive home for sale in the city. It failed to find a buyer, but it re-listed in early May prior to the Society Hill meeting at the same price.