The former radio station WCAU is not designed to be apartments but the developer is looking to change that.
If you don’t crane your neck and look up you’ll likely miss the cool facade at 1618 Chestnut Street. It’s a 10-story building that was built for radio station WCAU (NBC) back in the late 1920s and is one of Philly’s best examples of an Art Deco building.
And if you thought this was the Art Institute, you’re not wrong – they moved a couple of years ago for Old Navy. After all, who DOESN’T want value-priced clothing?
The Israeli developer, Gazit Globe Horizons had originally planned to refresh the existing offices on the floors above the Old Navy but, since no one really wants to actually BE in an office, they had to rethink that plan. So … apartments! It is a great address (1618 Chestnut Street has a nice ring to it) and the building is a historic gem so the idea is pretty sound.
There are some hurdles to overcome before things can move though. Office-to-apartment conversions are notoriously expensive as the building requirements are different and, in the case of the old WCAU, some units would need windows. I think offices also need a ton of natural light but maybe in the late 1920s, they cared less about their worker’s concerns. Or had bigger concerns, like an impending Second World War?
One of the funniest quotes was the developers’ notes on the proposed roof deck:
“It’s not going to be a heavily programmed roof deck with like outdoor showers and things like that, given the historic nature of the building.”
Are they worried about the water coming down the side of the building or something? And how many people jump to rent buildings with outdoor showers? Is that a thing? Why are showers programmed?
So many questions and it looks like it’ll take a while to answer, particularly on amenities, because they haven’t started the process.