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PHILADELPHIA-Grasso Holdings plans to develop a 1.2-million-sf mixed-use complex on Vine Street spanning from 16th to 17th streets. The development cost for Phase 1 is $315 million, and the design includes the potential for an additional 35-story tower aggregating 600,000 sf.

The opening phase consists of a 46-story tower. It will contain a luxury hotel on the first 15 stories that face 17th Street and retail space aggregating approximately 120,000 sf on the other side. Above them will be a combination of about 210 rental and 40 for-sale residential units.

“Rental residential distinguishes this from other projects under way in Center City,” David Grasso, president and CEO of the company formerly called Metro Development, tells GlobeSt.com. “The design is flexible, though, and allows us to expand or decrease the condo component, depending on market conditions. Our financing, however, is based on the substantial rental portion and doesn’t require pre-sales.” He expects to break ground in first quarter 2007, with the retail openings 18 months later and full delivery of the tower within two years.

Whole Foods Market has committed to a 60,000-sf unit, which will replace its current 16,000-sf store at 20th and Callowhill streets. The new unit will have dining venues, including a sushi bar on the mezzanine. Best Buy has committed to a 45,000-sf store above the Whole Foods unit, and Grasso says there’s another 15,000 sf of retail available plus small service retail space within the residential area.

He says he is in negotiations with several luxury hotel chains. “Branding a residential property, common with condos, is a novel idea for a rental building,” he says, “but that is under consideration.” For now, the project is named for its address, 1601 Vine. Hotel amenities will be available to rental and owner residents, he says, and there will be an 8,000-sf restaurant associated with the hotel.

The rental units include one- and two-bedroom layouts averaging between 800 sf and 1,100 sf. The rental rates, according to Grasso, will be between $2.50 per sf per month and $2.75 per sf per month, which would put the starting rent at about $2,000 a month. Separate elevators will serve the hotel, rental and condo portions of the building. Condo units on the top floors will be slightly larger than rental spaces and will include penthouses. Condo pricing has not yet been set.

Nor have plans for the second tower. “It is designed to accommodate about 300 residential units,” he says. “We could go rental or condo residential, or even add more hotel rooms, or a combination of uses.” The architect is New York City-based Brennan Beer Gorman.

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