Friday, October 30, 2009

Times Square South

Whatever happened to Trinity Capital Advisors' grand plan for 12th and Market's Girard Block? It seems the former site of the Snellenburg & Company Department store is destined to stay the stump it is.

It's sad too, because it's an unkempt blight at an otherwise fine corner. It's the impression most tourists receive when they first leave their hotel room, and the last impression they take home with them. Its gloomy exterior, dirty walls, and sprawling uniformity of unorganized retail and office space discourage tourists from exploring Market East by foot. It no doubt deters big business retail or services from occupying the former Champions' location in the Marriot across the street.

TCA has specificed that they want to take their time with the location, to do it right. What they're really doing is what all big developers do with Philadelphia. They aquire property when its cheap, and then sit on it until a better market returns. I've said before, we're not NYC or DC, and although we're lucky they haven't yet bulldozed the entire block (including the Girard Building which is intended to be demolished as part of the master plan) and we're not stuck with another Disney Hole for two decades, with TCA holding the lease and sitting on their hands we will be stuck with the Girard Hole as it is for a long, long time.

Interestingly enough, the Market East corner of 13th once had a similar stump. It didn't span the entire block of Market or 13th and it's rental spaces were better designed and blended better into the existing urban fabric. However, it was demolished for a surface parking lot which seems to show no signs of being developed. So things could be worse.

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