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The proposed American Commerce Center, via phillyskyline.com

Looking Back at 15 Proposed Towers that Bit the Dust

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It's been less than 30 years since One Liberty Place overtook William Penn's statue atop City Hall as the highest point above Philadelphia. Our city has seen its fair share of high-rise development since the mid-1980s, but imagine how it would look if zoning issues, financing woes, and a sputtering economy were never factors in the skyline's evolution.

Sure, the newly approved FMC Tower in University City and the rumors of a Norman Foster supertall to accompany the Comcast Center are exciting, but their potential impact on the skyline doesn't come close to these 15 failed proposals, many of which were killed off when the housing bubble burst in 2008.


There are certainly a few honorable mentions, like the originally-planned twin to accompany the G. Fred DiBona Jr. Building (IBX Tower), the super-ambitious Philadelphia River City, and 205 Race Street, but feel free to sound off with your own suggestions in the comments.

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1. Center City Tower

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1414 South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19102
This 75-story supertall would have risen 1,050 feet above City Hall in the space now occupied by the Residences at The Ritz-Carlton. Rumor has it that Comcast was considering this proposal for their Philadelphia headquarters, but ultimately shifted their focus to 17th & JFK.

2. American Commerce Center

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1800 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Arguably Philadelphia's most well-known cancelled project, the ACC would have transformed the skyline with a 1,510 spire and brought 63 floors of offices, retail, hotels, and even a skygarden around the 500-foot mark. This project cleared all zoning hurdles but inevitably fell apart alongside the economic downturn of 2008.

[Image via Kohn Pedersen Fox]

3. Mandeville Place

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2401 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
A project reminiscent of 1706 Rittenhouse (but way bigger), Mandeville Place would have featured just 45 luxury condos over 43 floors. The heartbreaker here is that the project was fully approved with construction slated for early 2008. Chalk this one up as another victim of the burst housing bubble.

[Image via Richard Meier & Partners Architects]

4. Waldorf-Astoria Hotel & Residences

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1441 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
This long-rumored 670-footer would have risen 58 floors at the vacant lot directly behind the Residences at The Ritz-Carlton. Roughly 130 luxury condos were planned on top of several hotel floors, but the project was put on a permanent hold in mid-2008.

5. Castleway Tower

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1911 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
This residential 525-footer would have towered over Rittenhouse Square on a much-talked-about vacant lot that still exists today. Sadly, a lethal combination of zoning and economic woes ultimately killed this project.

[Image via Castleway Properties]

6. Kimpton Monaco Hotel & Boyd Theatre Restoration

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1910 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Originally planned for a late 2009 groundbreaking, this project would have restored the Boyd Theatre and added a 28-story hotel with a concave eastern face. Unfortunately, the project fizzled out after the death of developer Hal Wheeler in 2010.

[Image via Martinez + Johnson Architecture]

7. Parkway 22

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501 North 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Presented in 2006 as a residential tower to accompany the Barnes Foundation, this proposal would have replaced the Best Western at 21st & Hamilton. Ultimately, the project was yet another victim of the economic collapse.

8. 1601 Vine

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1601 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
This 46-story tower would have been one of the tallest buildings north of the Comcast Center and offered residences, hotels, and ground-floor retail. The design was decent enough, but this one bit the dust when funding couldn't be secured.

[Image via BBG-BBGM Architects]

9. Gateway Center South

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1001 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Perhaps a bit too ambitious, this mixed-use project could have potentially ushered in a revival of the underwhelming area at Broad & Washington. Unfortunately, the lot remains vacant as the surrounding blocks beg for redevelopment.

10. Penn's Landing Tower

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735 South Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19147
One of many failed riverfront projects, this tower comprised of 230 residential units would have risen 438 feet in the footprint of the fatal Pier 34 collapse in 2000. It's no surprise that this never got off the ground given its location.

11. The Atlantis

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1 South Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19106
This extravagant concept was never really taken seriously, as it featured a rather significant high-rise, several mid-rises, and a cap over I-95. Total cost of the project? $1 billion.

12. World Trade Square

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400 North Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19123
The design wasn't anything earth-shattering, but this billion dollar project was ready for construction in 2006 until City Council approved a new 65-foot height limit on buildings around Old City; an ordinance that was repealed just four years later. The lot remains mostly vacant today.

[Image via Alesker & Dundon Architects]

13. Bridgman's View Tower

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900 North Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19123
An undeniable game changer for Philly's skyline, this largely residential 66-story tower would have risen 915 feet over the waterfront north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Groundbreaking was set for late 2007, but the economic collapse of 2008 effectively killed it off.

[Image via Studio Agoos Lovera]

14. Trump Tower

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709 Penn Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Possibly the most uninspired design on the list, the 45-story Trump Tower would have brought roughly 260 condo units to the narrow pier just south of Waterfront Square. Again, the 2008 crash killed this one off. Nobody seemed to mind.

[Image via Alesker & Dundon Architects]

15. The Horizon & The Tides

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901 Penn Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Just three of the five buildings planned for Waterfront Square were ever built, with The Horizon and The Tides falling victim to a poor economy. This complex was intended to be the residential anchor for the area's redevelopment, but the cancellation of nearly every proposal nearby has left it isolated and out of place.

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1. Center City Tower

1414 South Penn Square, Philadelphia, PA 19102
This 75-story supertall would have risen 1,050 feet above City Hall in the space now occupied by the Residences at The Ritz-Carlton. Rumor has it that Comcast was considering this proposal for their Philadelphia headquarters, but ultimately shifted their focus to 17th & JFK.
1414 South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19102

2. American Commerce Center

1800 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Arguably Philadelphia's most well-known cancelled project, the ACC would have transformed the skyline with a 1,510 spire and brought 63 floors of offices, retail, hotels, and even a skygarden around the 500-foot mark. This project cleared all zoning hurdles but inevitably fell apart alongside the economic downturn of 2008.

[Image via Kohn Pedersen Fox]
1800 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

3. Mandeville Place

2401 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
A project reminiscent of 1706 Rittenhouse (but way bigger), Mandeville Place would have featured just 45 luxury condos over 43 floors. The heartbreaker here is that the project was fully approved with construction slated for early 2008. Chalk this one up as another victim of the burst housing bubble.

[Image via Richard Meier & Partners Architects]
2401 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

4. Waldorf-Astoria Hotel & Residences

1441 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
This long-rumored 670-footer would have risen 58 floors at the vacant lot directly behind the Residences at The Ritz-Carlton. Roughly 130 luxury condos were planned on top of several hotel floors, but the project was put on a permanent hold in mid-2008.
1441 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

5. Castleway Tower

1911 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
This residential 525-footer would have towered over Rittenhouse Square on a much-talked-about vacant lot that still exists today. Sadly, a lethal combination of zoning and economic woes ultimately killed this project.

[Image via Castleway Properties]
1911 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

6. Kimpton Monaco Hotel & Boyd Theatre Restoration

1910 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Originally planned for a late 2009 groundbreaking, this project would have restored the Boyd Theatre and added a 28-story hotel with a concave eastern face. Unfortunately, the project fizzled out after the death of developer Hal Wheeler in 2010.

[Image via Martinez + Johnson Architecture]
1910 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

7. Parkway 22

501 North 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Presented in 2006 as a residential tower to accompany the Barnes Foundation, this proposal would have replaced the Best Western at 21st & Hamilton. Ultimately, the project was yet another victim of the economic collapse.
501 North 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

8. 1601 Vine

1601 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
This 46-story tower would have been one of the tallest buildings north of the Comcast Center and offered residences, hotels, and ground-floor retail. The design was decent enough, but this one bit the dust when funding couldn't be secured.

[Image via BBG-BBGM Architects]
1601 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

9. Gateway Center South

1001 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Perhaps a bit too ambitious, this mixed-use project could have potentially ushered in a revival of the underwhelming area at Broad & Washington. Unfortunately, the lot remains vacant as the surrounding blocks beg for redevelopment.
1001 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

10. Penn's Landing Tower

735 South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19147
One of many failed riverfront projects, this tower comprised of 230 residential units would have risen 438 feet in the footprint of the fatal Pier 34 collapse in 2000. It's no surprise that this never got off the ground given its location.
735 South Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19147

11. The Atlantis

1 South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19106
This extravagant concept was never really taken seriously, as it featured a rather significant high-rise, several mid-rises, and a cap over I-95. Total cost of the project? $1 billion.
1 South Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19106

12. World Trade Square

400 North Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19123
The design wasn't anything earth-shattering, but this billion dollar project was ready for construction in 2006 until City Council approved a new 65-foot height limit on buildings around Old City; an ordinance that was repealed just four years later. The lot remains mostly vacant today.

[Image via Alesker & Dundon Architects]
400 North Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19123

13. Bridgman's View Tower

900 North Delaware Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19123
An undeniable game changer for Philly's skyline, this largely residential 66-story tower would have risen 915 feet over the waterfront north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Groundbreaking was set for late 2007, but the economic collapse of 2008 effectively killed it off.

[Image via Studio Agoos Lovera]
900 North Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19123

14. Trump Tower

709 Penn Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Possibly the most uninspired design on the list, the 45-story Trump Tower would have brought roughly 260 condo units to the narrow pier just south of Waterfront Square. Again, the 2008 crash killed this one off. Nobody seemed to mind.

[Image via Alesker & Dundon Architects]
709 Penn Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

15. The Horizon & The Tides

901 Penn Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
Just three of the five buildings planned for Waterfront Square were ever built, with The Horizon and The Tides falling victim to a poor economy. This complex was intended to be the residential anchor for the area's redevelopment, but the cancellation of nearly every proposal nearby has left it isolated and out of place.
901 Penn Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123