On August 29, 2023, as part of redevelopment efforts along and near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the City of Philadelphia and PIDC (the city’s public-private economic development corporation), announced the selection of redevelopment partners for the revitalization of properties at 1801 Vine and 1901 Wood Streets.
The winning proposal:
- Moves the African American Museum of Philadelphia (AAMP) to a brand-new building in a prominent location on the Parkway;
- Provides an adaptive re-use of the iconic and historic Family Court Building as a premier lifestyle hotel; and
- Incorporates the Free Library of Philadelphia’s new Children and Family Center.
Selecting the development partners and proposal
Following an extensive request for qualifications (RFQ) process, in 2022 the City announced that four development teams had been shortlisted for the opportunity to reimagine the sites.
Out of those four development teams, the City of Philadelphia and economic development partner PIDC selected National Real Estate Development, LLC (National Development) and Frontier Development & Hospitality Group (Frontier) in a joint venture known as, National/Frontier, in collaboration with Method Co, Smith & Roller, and BKP Development Group as the redevelopment partners for this project.
National/Frontier will partner with Method Co., Smith & Roller, and BKP Development Group, resulting in minority equity ownership of the project and supporting a key priority of the RFP that was issued to the shortlisted firms.
This unique structure and proposal will bring meaningful participation and growth for M/W/DBE companies.
This partnership brings together a commitment to preserving the city’s heritage while ushering in a new era of innovation and cultural significance.
Relocating the African American Museum of Philadelphia to the Parkway
The new location of the AAMP will place it alongside other iconic institutions lining the Parkway.
The stories of African Americans are the stories of Philadelphia, and they deserve to be told in the center of our City’s arts and cultural community.
The City of Philadelphia opened AAMP during its bicentennial celebrations nearly 50 years ago, becoming the first city in America to fund and build an institution dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting the heritage of African Americans.
Reimagining the Family Court Building
The winning redevelopment plan also reimagines The Family Court Building at 1801 Vine Street.
Modeled after palace buildings on Paris’s Place de la Concorde, the building will be converted into a boutique hotel with modern amenities including a signature restaurant, bar, and event spaces, drawing the public in and activating the grand Vine Street entrance.
Incorporating the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central expansion
In addition, the proposal incorporates the Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central building’s expansion, which will advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity through the new Children and Family Center and auditorium.
This development furthers the Free Library’s mission and vision of building an enlightened community devoted to lifelong learning.
Coming up next
The timing of construction will depend on several factors, including when the project obtains transaction approvals, the City and developer negotiate a full set of terms and conditions for the overall development, and the developer obtains all necessary project permits and approvals.
This is a large project with complex building types, historic rehabilitation, sitework, utilities and infrastructure. The current estimate, which is subject to change, is for the proposed project to be completed about five years after the selection process concludes, in 2028 at the very earliest.
Image credit: National / Frontier.