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PHILADELPHIA-Switzenbaum & Associates has acquired the six-story, 760,000-sf former World War II munitions warehouse at 734 Schuylkill Ave. The locally based firm plans to transform it into South Bridge, a 215-unit residential condominium with 32,000 sf of office space, a 371-vehicle internal parking garage and 6,000-sf of ground-floor retail. It purchased the building, known as the JFK Vocational Center, from the Philadelphia School District for $13 million.

The developer has hired Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, the international architectural firm based here and headed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, as architect for the project. David Waxman, EVP and partner with Switzenbaum, tells GlobeSt.com, the estimated all-in cost of the project is between $70 million and $80 million. “We’ll begin construction in January/February and expect completion within 15 to 18 months.”

The design calls for studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, including new construction of 32 duplex rooftop units with private gardens, which Venturi describes as “aesthetically updating the classic Philadelphia town home in a contemporary new setting.” Units will range from 750 sf to 2,500 sf, and the selling price is approximately $400 per sf, according to Waxman. “Each unit will have a large utility space, like having a basement in your home, which is not included in the unit size and price.”

Venturi will retain the building’s 1940s industrial look and feel. The interior of the structure will have a six-story parking garage that provides on-grade parking on each floor, accessible by a system of internal ramps. There will be a landscaped rooftop garden aggregating approximately one acre along with an indoor pool, media room, “zen room,” and fitness and business centers.

An $800-million revitalization of 200 acres along both sides of the Schuylkill River from the Philadelphia Art Museum south to below South Street is already under way. South Bridge is located at the foot of the South Street Bridge, which is being redesigned and slated to open in 2008. It is also across from Naval Square, a town home and condominium project under development by Toll Brothers on the site of the former US Naval Home. Waxman says, “service retail, such as a dry cleaner and possibly a gourmet market, is designed to serve South Bridge and Naval Square residents.”

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