THE WALNUT STREET HOTEL/APT BUILDING PROJECT or as some people call it “FERGIE’S TOWER”
Monday when I was leaving Fusion Fitness at 7AM, I noticed a “Orange Zoning” notice on backdoor of the Thrift Shop of the Jewish Federation. 1213 Walnut Street, which has been empty for at least 10 yrs. The zoning notice states that their will be a demolition of properties between 1213 Walnut to 1219 Walnut to build a 29-story mix of a hotel and apartments. U3 is working with Fergus Carey, owner of the popular Fergie’s Pub at 1214 Sansom, which would stay in its present location if the building goes forward.
The building would have 299 apartment units and 152 hotel rooms.
After a little research I see that there has been hearings which can be found on the website: 3rd video down. www.PlanPhilly.com
It reminds me of the “Vera Coking” house in Atlantic City when Penthouse Magazine’s Bob Guccione wanted to build a “Penthouse” Casino on the lot that also occupied her house.
In 1983, when Bob Guccione wanted to build his Penthouse Casino in Atlantic City he was successful in buying up all the homes along Columbia Blvd except for one. Vera Coking refused to sell her boarding house even for 1 Million bucks. So he built around it. Before the building was complete, Guccione’s company went bankrupt and abandoned the the project. The incomplete building surrounded Vera’s boarding house until 1993, when Donald Trump’s Trump Plaza Hotel/Casino was to be built. Trump desired Coking’s land to build a limousine parking lot, and he demolished the partial built Penthouse. He offered $300ks, but she declined.
Then he got the city of Atlantic City to condemn Coking’s house in 1993, which attempted to use eminent domain to buy it out from under her. Coking, enlisting the help of an advocacy group, managed to fight the land grab successfully. She continued to live house surrounded by Trump Plaza’s tower, parking lots and entryways until 2007 when she finally decided to sell for an undisclosed amount. (See Vera’s house in the center of the picture. I tried to find a photo from 1983 when Guccione encased the Vera’s house with girders, but none were to be located. I remember it was an unusual tourist curiousity for years)
As for the 1215 project, basically this whole lot & the Jewish Federation building on the right, will be a 30 story hotel/apt building, except where Fergie’s is located, the green sign in the middle of the building. It’s a gigantic project, and I will be excited to see it completed, although I am surprised anyone would proceed with such an enormous project in this economy.
Here’s a screen shot from PlanPhilly.com The entrance to the Hotel and Apts will be off street in a corridor on the left of the building. I spoke to a Fergie’s employee and the staff is exciting for the busy few years as the tower is built. He also told me a little tidbit about the Jewish Federation building and how at one point this project was floated years before, but because the facade of the Federation building was deemed historic the building was a hard sell. In the past few years it’s fallen on hard times, the facade has collapsed and a sale was more easily done in this state. Who know’s if that’s true, but it would explain why the building remained dormant for so many years. More information can also be found on PhillyBlog