First look: Bart Blatstein’s North Broad empire grows with Tower Place

The North Broad Street renaissance is well underway – and real estate tycoon Bart Blatstein is all in, he said yesterday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his new $70 million apartment complex Tower Place.

Bart Blatstein.

“Tower Place is a much-needed, upscale apartment complex in one of the fastest-growing and most vibrant areas of Center City Philadelphia,” Blatstein said. “Where others may have seen an older, vacant government office building, we saw an opportunity to create attractive apartment dwellings for a wide demographic of Philadelphians who seek the convenience and excitement of Center City living.”

Blatstein, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger and City Council

President Darrell Clarke cut the ribbon in Tower Place’s lobby.

Blatstein said the area first piqued his interest about five years ago after he created The Avenue North complex near Temple University. “Then we recognized this pocket of opportunity here between Callowhill and Spring Garden on Broad Street going west,” he said.

A Tower Place unit.

The opening marked Phase One of the Tower Place project, which will expand to include an 18-story tower with 215 residential units along 15th Street and a two-story retail building on Spring Garden Street.

Rent at each of the 204 high-end units range from $1,700 to $2,200 per month. “The apartments are renting very quickly,” Blatstein said. “It goes to show the strength of this neighborhood here.”

City officials agreed that North Broad is on the rise. “North Broad used to be the stepsister of South Broad,” City Council President Darrell Clarke said. “But I’ve got to tell you, North Broad is where it’s at. This is the place to be, and you will be hearing things in the near future about the continued great development of North Broad.”

Clarke checks out a Tower Place apartment.

Blatstein has made a financial commitment of more than $1 billion in development along the stretch, which has also seen investments from big-name restaurateurs like Marc Vetri and Stephen Starr, as well asdeveloper Eric Blumenthal, who recently purchased the Divine Lorraine.

“We are confident in the success of North Broad Street and are excited to be a part of contributing to the redevelopment of the area,” president of Stephen Starr Events Simon Powles said.

“This is a vibrant up and coming neighborhood that will soon be bustling with great new retailers, restaurants and residential properties. We couldn’t be more excited for this very pivotal time in the neighborhood’s story.”

Growing empire

Blatstein’s past and current plans for North Broad include:

Avenue North, built in 2006 on the 1600 block of North Broad. The complex includes the Shops at Avenue North and The Edge student housing.

Tower Place Phase Two, at Broad and Spring Garden streets, slated for completion in 2017. That will encompass a 215-unit 18-story residential tower on 15th Street and a two-story retail building on Spring Garden Street.

Tower Place’s lobby.

The Provence on the 400 block of North Broad, future unknown. The planned $700 million casino and resort hinges on the state Gaming Control Board’s awarding of a casino license to Blatstein, who is one of several firms vying for the license.

Garden in the sky

One of Blatstein’s wilder headline-making proposals is a European-inspired rooftop village extending from the former Inquirer Building – and site of the planned Provence – at Broad and Callowhill west to 16th Street.

Blatstein yesterday said it’s still a go. “We get the gaming license, what you see is what you’re going to get,” he said.

The ramps connecting the building tops will be landscaped, according to Blatstein, and he plans to construct a more than 10,000-square-foot botanical garden inside. “We’re absolutely committed,” he said.

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