Curtis Center atrium, set for a wedding

PHILADELPHIA−Keystone Property Group and Mack-Cali Realty Corp. had jointly acquired the Curtis Center building overlooking Independence Hall and Washington Square Park here for $125 million. They plan a “dynamic” repositioning that includes luxury rental apartments and new retail space.

The companies paid all cash for the iconic office and retail building.  The Curis Center acquisition is the latest in a series of deals made jointly by Pennsylvania-based Keystone and New Jersey-based Mack-Cali. Executives said that the deals are in line with the corporate strategies of each firm:

  • Keystone’s expansion into projects that create “lifestyle-oriented business environments” and
  • Mack-Cali’s push into the muti-family rental arena.

About 90 rental apartments will be created within about 90,000 square feet of existing office space, according to the companies. They said possibilities for additional housing will arise as office leases expire and more space becomes available.

Curtis Center comprises 885,000 square feet and occupies an entire block in Center City. Current tenants include the General Services Administration as anchor tenant and ground-floor retailers.

“Not only is Curtis Center rich with cultural importance, but it’s also perfectly aligned with our company’s overarching goal to expand our regional footprint by creating exciting live-work-play spaces in dynamic markets,” said Bill Glazer, Keystone president.

“We’re thrilled to have the chance to transform this icon into a vibrant mixed-use environment while maintaining the historical significance of one of Philadelphia’s most recognizable buildings. Our strong relationship with Mack-Cali will enable us to leverage our collective knowledge to create truly unique tenant and resident experiences,” Glazer said.

Mitchell E. Hersh, president and CEO of Mack-Cali, said his company is taking advantage of an opportunity to strengthen its multi-family presence “in the heart of the growing Philadelphia housing market.”

“This building is well positioned to capitalize on the upside of one of the region’s most exciting hubs for entertainment, culture and transit,” Hersh said.

In addition to the apartments, the converted Curtis Center will have new corner restaurant spaces at Walnut and Sixth Streets, with newly landscaped outdoor seating and unobstructed views of both Washington Square Park and Independence National Historical Park. The planned retail and streetscape renovations are to be designed to complement the building’s central office and residential components.

The companies also plan to upgrade the building’s elevators and HVAC system, roof, facade and parking garage.

An affiliate of Keystone will manage the office and retail portions of the building, while Roseland, a subsidiary of Mack-Cali, will be responsible for the design, construction, leasing and management of the residential units.

Built between 1909 and 1920, Curtis Center originally housed Curtis Publishing, owner of publications such as Ladies’ Home Journal, The Saturday Evening Post, The American Home, Holiday, Jack & Jill and Country Gentleman. 

The building was given an $80-million renovation in the 1980s.