(To read more on the multifamily market, click here.)

PHILADELPHIA-Locally based Synterra Partners has withdrawn its proposal to develop a 300-unit condominium project at Ninth and Vine streets in Center City’s Chinatown. The Redevelopment Authority, owner of the one-block parcel, selected Synterra for the development in April 2005, but has now accepted its withdrawal of the plan.

“Sadly, we won’t be proceeding with it,” Lisa Welsch, Synterra’s director of development, tells GlobeSt.com. “When you go after something two years out, construction costs rise and condos come on the market. This was a large project and on a challenging parcel to begin with. Total project costs rose above $300 million and it became infeasible.”

When the Pennsylvania Convention Center was constructed more than a decade ago, rail lines were relocated to the land. As a result, both Septa and Patco lines run under it, preventing construction of a building directly above them. Yet, at the time of its selection, Synterra believed it could develop a design that would overcome the challenges.

As GlobeSt.com reported when RDA selected Synterra, its owner William Wilson committed to reserve 10% of the units for affordable housing and include ground-floor retail. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. welcomed the proposal. John Chin, PCDC’s executive director, previously told GlobeSt.com that he and Wilson shared “the same vision of Chinatown as a gateway to new immigrants.” At the time, he cited the success of other cities’ mixed-income residential developments.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed,” Chin now tells GlobeSt.com. “We saw this as a model for this city and other governments to follow in addressing how to allow lower-income people to stay in neighborhoods. Wilson is one of the most community-oriented developers, but it all comes down to economics and market conditions. We understand that it became impossible for the company to build the product it wanted at reasonable return.”

RDA has ordered updated appraisals for the parcel. “We have reached out to the Redevelopment Authority,” Chin adds, “and want to be involved in helping to shape a new RFP for the land.” Calls to the authority were not returned by deadline.

Chin also expressed “some concerns” about how an expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, now underway, would impact Chinatown. “We are not losing any moderate- to low-income housing to the convention center,” he says, “but it reduces the amount of land here. We are in talks with [the Convention Center Authority] and they’re sensitive to our concerns.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join GlobeSt.com now!

  • Free unlimited access to GlobeSt.com's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.