ow only a matter of time before the surface parking lot at 1213 Walnut Street in the Midtown Village-Gayborhood section of Washington Square West ceases to exist.
Construction crews began drilling yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 19) in the lot prior to the start of actual construction work on U3 Ventures’ 26-story apartment/retail tower.
The crew members we spoke with explained that the holes being drilled are test bores, used to determine soil conditions and the presence of rocks or layers of stone on the site. These bores will enable the builders to place footings and foundations properly.
The tower, known colloquially as the “Fergie’s tower” for the Sansom Street pub it will envelop, marks a dramatic departure for modern construction in this portion of Wash West. Designed by TEN Arquitectos of Mexico City and New York, the structure will combine more than 300 high-end apartments with 20,000 square feet of street-level retail. City Council approved a zoning ordinance for the site that permits greater density than the lot’s base zoning of CMX-5 allows and eliminates the parking requirement to boot. This, U3 says on the project website, produces a building that is “specifically tailored to maximize land value while furthering Philadelphia’s economic development and planning objectives.”
The road to this point was paved with more than a little controversy, including a lawsuit that challenged the zoning ordinance. Common Pleas Court rejected the challenge in January, clearing the way for the work that began yesterday.
We will be keeping an eye on the progress of this project that will add a distinctive high-rise to the Walnut Street East commercial strip.
Photos by the author; model from TEN Arquitectos