Plans for the American Commerce Center at 18th and Arch Streets in Center City would make it the tallest building in Philadelphia, perhaps as soon as 2012.
The widely-cited news was first reported yesterday by the development blog PhillySkyline.com.
Walnut Street Capital bought the mixed-use lot at 1800 Arch Street in October. Since then the group hired Kohn Pederson Fox, an architecture firm, and developed plans for a 1,500-foot, 63-story office tower, with an adjacent 26-story hotel, according to PhillySkyline.com.
As proposed, it would be taller than the Empire State Building in New York City, making it the second tallest building in the United States, behind only the Sears Tower in Chicago. The American Commerce Center would be 525 taller than the recently completed Comcast Center, officially made the tallest building in Philadelphia during a ceremony in June 2007. That building is located at 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
Both the developer Walnut Street Capital and the architecture firm Kohn Pederson have been active in Philadelphia’s growth.
Walnut Street Capital created the two-building Curtis Square complex in 2006 by renovating the historic Curtis Center and the Public Ledger Building in Center City, and the group is currently working on a 269-unit, 30-story luxury apartment tower on the Delaware waterfront.
Kohn Pederson, which has its designs for the 1,588-foot Shanghai World Financial Center in China and the 1,608-foot International Commerce Center in Hong Kong currently under construction, recently led the redesign of the U.S. Airways terminal at the Philadelphia International Airport and Huntsman Hall for the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After the long-held “gentleman’s agreement” that kept new construction shorter than 750-foot City Hall was broken in 1987 by One Liberty Place, KPF contributed the design for the 792-foot Mellon Bank Center at 1735 Market Street, in addition to One Logan Square, Two Logan Square and the Four Seasons Hotel at 18th and Cherry Streets. Additionally, Gene Kohn, of the Kohn in Kohn Pederson Fox, is a graduate of Penn, according to PhillySkyline.
The site of American Commerce Center is currently nothing but a parking lot, and will be replaced by underground parking in the building’s plans. Walnut Street Capital has suggested that interest in its office space is such that the only delay in beginning construction is a zoning restriction, in part due to a blanket height limit enacted by City Councilman Darrell Clarke in recent years.
Clarke represents the fifth councilmanic district, which also covers Temple’s Main Campus. He has declined comment on the subject, according to all those reporting.
Christopher Wink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration courtesy of Walnut Street Capital and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.