A 19-story overbuild of the Freeman’s Auction House at 1810 Chestnut St. has been approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission according to Cecil Baker + Partners, the architect behind the project. The existing 6-story structure was built in 1923 and was the home of Freeman’s until last year, when the company moved into spaces at 2400 Market St. and at The Civic in Brewerytown.
In the beginning of 2019, the auction house at 1808-10 Chestnut St. was nominated for historic designation just as Freeman’s was marketing the property for sale. Last July, the building went under agreement of sale and subsequently received approval from the Historical Commission for a 14-story overbuild with an 18.5 foot setback on Chestnut St. and a 24.25 foot setback on Sansom. That plan entailed 25 units within a structure that would reach a total height of 226 feet. The Historical Commission approved this conceptual plan on the grounds that the project was already well into the planning phases when the building was nominated for historic designation. The historic designation is still pending to this day.
At the end of last year, the building officially sold for $14.3 million. The new owners reengaged the Historical Commission this March with new, taller plans for the property. The 19-story overbuild plans will bring the total structure to 25-stories and 312 feet tall. Although this plan will rise higher than the previous plan, the total square footage is similar as the setback on Sansom St. has been increased to 70.5 feet. The new plan will include 19 residential units along with commercial space on the 2nd through 5th floors and a mechanical parking system in the rear basement and first floor levels.
No variances are required for this project and it will not need to present before the Civic Design Review (CDR). So, it looks like this project now only needs funding and permitting to move forward.
We think this project looks great and are thrilled to see a beautiful building get a chance at a new life. The modern glass contrasts nicely with the original structure. Many development companies would have fought the historical designation with the goal of demolishing the auction house building and constructing a new structure on the site, which would have been a much easier and less expensive undertaking. Astoban Investments, the company behind the project, has decided to take a more tasteful and sophisticated approach. It even looks like the developer is trying to lighten the burden of the blank walls on the east and west sides of the building by varying the facade color. Astoban has experience with overbuilding historic structures, so we are confident that the project will turn out well.
We look forward to seeing this project move forward and are excited to see another 300+ foot building added to the Philadelphia skyline. How do you feel about this project?
Kyle is a commercial real estate agent at Rittenhouse Realty Advisors, a homeowner, and a real estate investor in Philadelphia. Kyle uses his extensive Philadelphia real estate market knowledge to help his clients buy and sell multifamily investment properties, development opportunities, and industrial sites.
Email Kyle@RittenhouseRealty.com if you are looking to buy or sell a property