Ahead of an official Civic Design Review meeting next month, Toll Brothers has revealed its new design plans for a 135,000-square-foot condo tower on Jewelers Row after nearly a year of tweaks and revisions.
The new designs, which call for a 24-story tower with 85 condo units, has changed significantly since the developer’s original iteration, shrinking in size from 338 feet to 308 feet. The amount of retail has nearly doubled since last year’s original plans.
The plan still calls for the demolition of four buildings on Jewelers Row—702-710 Sansom Street—and another on S. 7th Street.
“I think that based on the great feedback we’ve gotten from a lot of people here we’re creating something that everybody can be proud of and happy with,” Toll Brothers’ David Von Spreckelsen said in an interview with Curbed Philly ahead of a Tuesday night zoning meeting with the Washington Square West Civic Association.
Here’s how the new design proposal compares to the original:
Toll Brothers Jewelers Row Tower
|Legend||2017 version||2018 version|
|Legend||2017 version||2018 version|
|# of condo units||109||85|
|Retail (sq. ft.)||2,600||4,500|
The new permit for the building is also no longer under unity of use, according to Von Spreckelsen. Instead, it’s being developed pursuant to lot consolidation, which resulted in the shorter tower with less floor area. In addition, the tower no longer spans the alley way to the south of Jewelers Row.
The updates come nearly a year after the original renderings were revealed in 2017. Since 2016, however, the proposal has come under fire from the historic preservation community and residents who are against the demolition of a series of buildings on Jewelers Row that would make way for the tower.
One of the most significant cosmetic changes includes the removal of the two-faced facades. Originally, the design called for a masonry facade along Sansom Street that rose to the top of the building, while the Washington Square-facing facade was clad in glass.
“What led to it was feedback we got from the constituents who wanted the building to read as one, not having two separate personalities,” said Von Spreckelsen. “So we went with the glass so that it can sort of [...] disappear into the sky and be as un-obstructive as possible but also be elegant and stately.”
In addition, the retail square footage has expanded to 4,500 square feet, which will potentially allow for at least three retail tenants to set up shop on the ground floor. Von Spreckelsen said Toll Brothers received positive feedback from Jewelers Row tenants who have seen the most recent iterations of the retail space.
“They were encouraged by the addition of retail space,” he said, “and the fact that it would be modern retail space.”
The well-attended Washington Square West Civic Association zoning meeting Tuesday night was meant to specifically address the design of the proposed tower. Some attendees again expressed their desire to have the facades of the current structures be preserved instead of entirely demolished.
The designers SLCE Architects and developer reiterated that they had considered it, but have “gone in another direction,” adding that the facades have been changed over the years that they found no way to “truly unify” the development with varying exteriors.
Architect Jim Davidson said the high-performance glass facade and setbacks are meant to make the building stand out less and have a more “delicate footprint.”
Davidson said, “It’s very much treated as a background building.”
The design proposal will be presented to the advisory Civic Design Review committee on February 6, 2018.