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The Laurel Adds a Major Landmark to Rittenhouse Square on a Long Vacant Lot

On July 18, 2018

laurel 1911 walnut stRittenhouse Square Park is Philadelphia’s most exclusive and wealthiest address, surrounding what may be the most beautiful urban park in the world. While the park is surrounded by luxury highrises, mostly condominiums, one site on the northwestern corner stood out as an unfortunate blight for more than 20 years. The long vacant lot at 1911 Walnut Street was the site of an old movie theatre which burned down, then was demolished, and has remained vacant ever since. A plan to build a parking garage and movie multiplex on the site fell through about fifteen years ago, but in the process three historic buildings on Sansom Street were left vacant: a funeral home, an apartment building known as The Warwick, and a three story building with a cafe on the first floor and a Moorish-style facade. While 1911 Walnut and the adjacent buildings on Sansom Street have been vacant for a frustratingly long time, the site is now slated to be developed with a landmark new tower which will be worth the wait.

This new tower is being developed by Southern Land Company and designed by Solomon, Cordwell and Buenz, who intend to build and design a project that would be worthy of this prominent site and will set a standard for the city. The new tower will be 49 stories tall and will have 200 rental units and 74 condos. The rental apartments will include some short term rental units and some affordable units. The apartments will begin on the fourth floor and go up to the 25th floor and the condos will begin on the 27th floor and continue to the penthouses on the top floors. The condo units will have European kitchens, with zebra wood trim, and marble bathrooms with European cabinetry. Each condo unit will have a corner terrace and they will start at $2.4 million. The penthouses will range from 1,700 to 9,000 square feet and will have private elevators, starting at $16 million. The 26th floor will have the amenities for the condos, including a pool, a spa, a fitness center, a yoga studio, a meeting room, a guest suite, and a lounge with a catering kitchen and terrace overlooking the Square. An adjacent two-story building will be built at 20th and Sansom Streets, connected to the tower by a skybridge over Moravian Street. The first floors of the tower and adjacent building will have retail, including a restaurant facing Walnut Street. The second floors will have retail, also, including a second floor for the restaurant on Walnut Street, and amenities for the rental apartment tenants, and possibly a spa in the adjacent retail building. On top of the two story building will be a roof deck and an outdoor swimming pool.laurel 1911 walnut st

The historic funeral home was demolished, but The Warwick will be rebuilt inside, with only the outer walls being preserved, and the former Rittenhouse Coffeeshop building will also be preserved. These historic buildings will be used for 30 units of affordable housing, primarily for veterans, and will have veterans services on the first floor of both buildings and a community room on the second floor of the former coffeeshop building. There will be 174 parking spaces, below grade, and bicycle storage. The garage will have a car elevator and electrical charging stations. The facade will be mostly glass and many units, including all the condo units, will have terraces. The first floor facade will have limestone and glass facing Walnut Street. The top will have a glass case, covering the mechanical equipment, which will have a cross-hatch pattern and will light up at night.

The Laurel will be the outstanding upscale addition to Rittenhouse Square that many have been anticipating for the site at 1911 Walnut Street. It joins other recent upscale developments adding to the neighborhood’s already incredible mix of luxury housing, such as The Residences at Two Liberty, 2116 Chestnut Street, The Harper across Sansom Street, 1919 Market Street, and the AQ Rittenhouse. The Laurel will, also, be a dramatic addition to the Center City skyline.

Interested in finding out more about The Laurel? Call 215.692.6636 or email

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