Walnut Street Properties Destroyed by Arson Sold. Tower on the Horizon?

1706-10 Walnut Street
1706-10 Walnut Street

If you’ve been in Rittenhouse Square doing holiday shopping on Walnut Street recently, you probably noticed the gaping hole in the high-end commercial corridor. Three historic buildings at 1706, 1708, and 1710 Walnut Street were demolished in early 2021 as a result of arson that took place during the May 2020 protests.

After the fire was put out in 2020, it was believed that the buildings could be saved. However, in October of 2020, L&I ruled that the buildings lacked structural integrity and needed to be demolished. The three structures were demolished in early 2021 and there has been a street-to-street gap in the city’s preeminent shopping corridor ever since.

1706-10 Walnut Street
1706-10 Walnut Street – Pre Demolition

It was a huge disappointment to see these buildings get demolished and we feared that we would have to live with a blighted lot in Rittenhouse Square for years to come. All three properties were under different ownership at the time of the fire, making consolidation and disposition efforts difficult. Further complicating matters, the properties are within the Rittenhouse / Fitler Residential Historic District. So, any new development on the site has to be approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission and the facades of the now demolished buildings have to be reconstructed. In our opinion, it looked like we wouldn’t see these properties trade hands or get developed for a long time.

Well, it looks like our thinking was incorrect. It was reported today that a New York company purchased all three properties for $15 million. Combined, these lots total nearly 11,500 square feet and with their CMX-5 zoning, they should be able to accommodate a tower. At a $15 million purchase price, we imagine the buyers have big plans.

1706-10 Walnut Street
1706-10 Walnut Street – from Chancellor Street

As mentioned, any development on the site will need to include the reconstruction of the 3 facades that formerly stood on the site. However, with Historical Commission approval, a tower should be able to be built behind the faux historic facades.

Although we’re not sure exactly what the new owner’s plans are for the site, we’re definitely happy to hear about this sale. With all three parcels now under the same ownership, we expect to hear about big plans for the site in the near future.

What would you like to see built on this site? Are you happy to hear that there is movement with these properties and that they could be developed in the near future?

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