Blatstein, looking svelte as ever, announced that Hard Rock International will be managing and operating the Provence Casino.
Bart Blatstein. Love him. Hate him. Maybe you don’t even know him. If it’s the latter, you must live under a rock. It does not really matter. One notion about Bart Blatstein that everyone can agree on? You can’t stop him from developing in Philadelphia.
On Wednesday evening, October 24th, at Tendenza on N 2nd Street in Northern Liberties, I attended the announcement party hosted by Tower Investments. They had gathered few hundred people including city officials, the press, and a mix of other people with some influence in Philadelphia to hear who was chosen to manage the casino portion of his Boutique Hotel and Casino development at the site of the acquired Inquirer Building at 400 N Broad Street, the Provence. This uniquely situated piece of real estate runs from N Broad to N 17th Street and is projected to create 5,000 new jobs for Philadelphia as well as some much needed revenue for the city.
I have to admit, the announcement party was upbeat and extremely pro-Philadelphia. People in the crowd were pleasantly optimistic and realistic. Most of the people I spoke to communicated to me a “big picture” understanding of the positive ramifications that this 700 million dollar project would have on the city. In essence, Blatstein is pioneering a vital infrastructure that will connect the Northern neighborhoods to Center City. As a Realtor looking at the disconnect between the commercial districts and the emerging "fringe neighborhoods" that encompass the Northern districts, I see this as a brilliant plan. The party attendees seemed to agree and held a quiet confidence in Blatstein coupled with the understanding of changes and challenges ahead.
Some won’t agree with my support of Blatstein’s visions for Philly, nor will they agree with how I vote this coming election, but that’s not going to stop me and it is not going to stop Blatstein either.
A BI GEZUNT, Bart.
The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that developer Bart Blatstein's next move is a plan for a casino and hotel project along North Broad Street. Blatstein will seek the casino license formerly held by Foxwoods.
Earlier this week we mentioned the beginning of Blatstein's Tower Place.
According to PBJ, "the proposed casino would be 117,000 square feet and include what Blatstein called a “destination entertainment center” with theaters, shopping, sporting events, concerts, and spa services. By comparison, the SugarHouse casino is 130,000 square feet and is expanding by another 106,000 square feet."
What are your thoughts on a Center City casino?
Construction begins today on Tower Place, a residential project from Tower Investments Inc. at Broad and Spring Garden Streets. According to Philadelphia Business Journal, the $120 million redevelopment of the former state office building will make up 400 residential units and 60,000 square feet of commercial space. Phase One is expected to be completed later this year.
The new owner of 400 N. Broad Street, home to Philadelphia Media Network (Philly.com, Daily News, the Inquirer)? The newsiest address in town? Well, according to Philly.com...
The price for the 18-story building has not been disclosed, but we're already thinking of what Blatstein's dreaming up for the place.
Offices? Another luxury condo? A boutique hotel, perhaps? With the Convention Center expansion, that would make the most sense.
No word yet on where the HQ of Philly's biggest newsroom will move. What do you think of the sale?
The neighborhood of Northern Liberties certainly has many small, independent shops, gourmet delis and cafes, and there always seems to be plenty of spots for those looking to grab a unique bite. One thing it is missing, if you ask any resident, is a full supermarket to serve the rapidly growing community.
For the past few years, the neighborhood was promised a Pathmark next to the Piazza, which we've covered before. And then there were some issues with parent company A&P filing for bankruptcy last year...
Now we're hearing that the Pathmark could instead be a Super Fresh, from the latest at Philadelphia Business Journal.
We'd just like to see the 52,000-square-foot store open as soon as possible. Whatever store that happens to be, it will be the missing ingredient for this neighborhood. We have so many good things to say about Northern Liberties, this will give us one more!
We'll confirm as the details roll in.
UPDATE: Super Fresh is aiming for a late summer opening and is currently hiring.
Would you support a Super Fresh in your neighborhood?
Only at the Piazza! "Every day is an adventure," Bart Blatstein said to us last night as we watched the engineer weld the last piece of steel on the base of the Tower that now stands on North 2nd Street in Northern Liberties.
"This was just a thought in my head a few weeks ago."
With a creative mind and seemingly endless resources, Blatstein managed to salvage a 15,000 pound steel structure that once peered over the Piazza from the roof top of one of Tower Investment's properties on Hancock Street. "This will be a great meeting place for people," Blatstein explained to us. "Meet you at the Tower!" he said, with a sense of knowing that, that is exactly what people will do and say. "This is going to be an organic type of installation, ever changing, perhaps we'll add some greenery, a solar powered wind mill..."
I could see the sparkle in Bart's eyes as the possibilities for this Steel Tower began to reel though his mind. "I think it is important to salvage things. It is a reminder of the past. I think that is important. People should remember." We listened intently trying to gain some insight from Mr. Blatstein. Sadly, we were interrupted by a call on Blatstein's cell and we headed home. Today the Tower stands strong much like those folks who are attending this Sunday Out!
What do you think? Got any fun nicknames for the Tower?
Now that it appears that Pathmark is out for Bart Blatstein's long-awaited supermarket/shopping center novella, the Shops at Schmidts.
Let's just say that the neighborhood was not surprised after A&P, Pathmark's parent company, filed for bankruptcy late last year. After Pathmark began to close stores, many of us got to wondering: Would the Northern Liberties opening fall through?
According to Philly.com, Blatstein is moving on to Plan B, which means fulfilling his goal of having a supermarket chain in the space, whether it's Pathmark or something else. We're voting for Wegmans, because there's no Philadelphia location yet, and this space looks to be big enough for the boutique grocery mecca. It'd be something different, and would suit the tastes of the Top Chef-obsessed, organic-buying-inclined Northern Liberties homeowners.
But we'll take anything...we just want a supermarket. We'll keep you posted!
What do you think?
Tendenza was transformed into Bali for the evening, complete with bikini models and cabana boys, massage stations from On the Spot Wellness, and screens everywhere depicting the new over-21 members only pool lounge that is set to open on May 1st behind the Piazza at 1031 Germantown Avenue. The dressed-to-the-nines crowd was eagerly signing up to be a part of the exclusive club (which is accepting only 1,000 members for its May to September season) at $1,000 a pop. What does this membership include exactly? From the website:
> 1,380 square foot, 4 1/2' deep pool
> Posh Cabanas with personalized service & luxuries
> Balinese lounge chairs, over-sized day beds & portable sun umbrellas
> Complimentary plush towel service
> Shaded hammocks
> Ping pong tables & accessories
> Upper level sundeck
> Air-conditioned men's & women's locker rooms
> Cozy fire-pit lounge
> Live DJ & music entertainment
> Complimentary wi-fi coverage
> Courtesy flavor ices & refreshing cold towels offered by pool attendants throughout the day
> Poolside food & beverage service
> Outdoor shaded bar & restaurant
> Access to Chenango Bar & Restaurant
> Gift Shop offering specialty sundries, clothing & spa products
> Private & poolside spa services
> Special events/programs such as yoga sessions, outdoor movie screenings, member parties
> Free self-parking & discount valet parking
Not a bad way to spend the summer, right? Every year we wonder what could happen next in Northern Liberties (the neighborhood where no idea is too far from actualization) and every year we get another cool venue to tell people about when they come to visit. Now, when people ask if Northern Liberties has a swim club with cabanas and a firepit, we'll tell them:
Why, yes. Yes it does.
Applications will be available on the website on Monday, March 7th.
Special thanks to Bart Blatstein for another successful and exciting year of growth and development in Northern Liberties.
We are excited for a fantastic 2011!
Before you get too riled up that yet another bigwig is going to get money when the rest of us are scraping to make ends meet, we challenge you to think of the potential good that will come on the coattails of folks who can make things happen.
If Pennsylvania's $4 billion capital budget proposal goes through, the neighborhoods of Philadelphia can expect some major development action as a benefit.
- A rehab of the State Office Building at Broad and Spring Garden Streets (apartments, shops)
- A 45-room hotel with a banquet facility next to the Piazza at Schmidts in Northern Liberties
- 86-suite boutique hotel at Second and Poplar Streets in Northern Liberties (with additional parking)
Our only thoughts are: Bring it!
We know that Philadelphia is long overdue in developing so many under-utilized parcels, buildings, and prime Real Estate for the growth and betterment of our city. When we see a developer with a successful track record turning a more or less blighted part of Philly into "The Piazza", we think more of the same should be encouraged.
And though there will always be naysayers and mudslingers, we know so many others will follow in Tower's footsteps spurring new jobs and opening doors to opportunities.