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Details for second Comcast tower revealed; plus, Blatstein buys waterfront lot

Philadelphia, like all cities, is in a constant state of evolution. This moment, in particular, feels charged with change -- fins, limbs, eyes are spouting all over the place.

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission has revealed details about the buzzed-about Comcast Innovation & Technology Center, the corporation's second skyline-altering tower. Curbed Philly covered the annoucement, and compiled this list of essential facts:

- 59 floors, 1,121 ft
- 1,321,921 square feet of office space
- 242,680 square feet of hotel space (222 rooms over 12 floors)
- 3,483 square feet of retail space
- LEED Gold or Platinum certification (anticipated)
- 126-foot glass blade at top
- Concourse connection to Comcast Center and Suburban Station
- 47 total bike racks on Arch Street/Cuthbert Street
- Ground floor bike shower/changing room
- 21 total outdoor benches
- 20 percent water use reduction
- 3-story office skygardens
- 70 underground parking spaces
- Open to the public from at least 8 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily

In another exciting development, 1 percent of the total construction costs will be spent on art in public spaces. Click here for a review of the entire project.

As all this was breaking, another big deal went down. Bart Blatstein -- who is already working on a transformative project at Broad and Washington -- has purchased a large lot on the Delaware Waterfront, between Tasker and Reed Streets. In a funny narrative twist, Blatstein actually owned the property 21 years ago, before selling it to Foxwoods as a potential casino site. That plan obviously never came to fruition. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Foxwoods property in South Philadelphia was once the site of a sugar refinery. As large as a city block, the property was assembled by Blatstein in 1993. At the time, he thought he would develop a big-box shopping center.

The deal fell through, but something better came along: gambling.

In 1993, influential politicians were beginning to advocate for riverboat gambling. Blatstein rode a wave of casino speculation. Operators from Las Vegas and Atlantic City were lining up outside Blatstein's door, angling for his land.

A year after spending $8.5 million to assemble the site, Blatstein flipped it for more than $64 million to a company that became Caesars Entertainment.

The profit from that transaction gave Blatstein the financial firepower to become a major developer in the city. His signature development, which Tower Investments started in 2000, was the Piazza at Schmidts rental apartments in Northern Liberties.

Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development, speculates that the land will be developed into a mix of residential and retail; Blatstein is remaining tight-lipped for the moment.

In a big potential boon for riverfront improvement efforts, the deal will transfer a 100-foot-wide strip of land along the river's edge to the Natural Lands Trust, a conservation organization, enabling the continued progress of the city's waterfront trail.

Writer: Lee Stabert
Source: Curbed Philly,
The Philadelphia Inquirer

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