Three new Center City high rise plans

1) Financing for 2116 Chestnut St.: Chicago investor John A. Buck and the union-backed Indure Fund held a groundbreaking Thursday and said they've each invested $20 million in their planned $100 million 319-unit apartment tower (plus shops and a parking garage).

Banks led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. are lending Buck and Indure the other $60 million, and Pennsylvania taxpayers will be giving them $10 million when the job is done, in a move approved by Govs. Tom Corbett and his predecessor, Ed Rendell. 

Buck, who founded John A. Buck Co. in 1981 and holds a Wharton MBA, said it's his first development in Philadelphia, and he thanked political leaders for sweetening the deal. He added, "I love Philadelphia. It's good to be back here. Philadelphia has more of a residential and warm feeling to it than our great city" of Chicago. 

"We've been looking for a Philadelphia project with John Buck Co. for years; there was never anything that made sense before," Jeffrey J. Kanne, preisdent of Indure's advisory firm, told me. The project's backers say up to 800 workers will be active on the job site between now and its scheduled 2013 completion.

Indure is funded by the pension plan for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors' Association.

2) Indure is also looking for government help for a propsal to redevelop the Girard Block, between 11th and 12th, Market and Chestnut streets, according to Kanne and Peter Soens, a partner in the group that agreed to develop the block after buying rights from the city-run Girard Trust.

Soens and Indure have big plans for the Girard block: They want to lure a Target-style discount or Giant-style grocery store, a hotel, and an apartment developer to that location. But "that depends on getting money" from the city or another government entity, Kanne told me.

Mayor Nutter, city councilemembers Kenyatta Johnson and Bobby Henon, and state economic development officials were also on hand. John Dougherty, business manager (CORRECTED) of Philadelphia's IBEW Local 98, noted his union had been active in convincing Indure to use union electricians' pension funds to back both the 2116 and the Girard projects, creating "good jobs, with good wages, and benefits." 

3) J. Tmothy Duffy of Michael Salove Co. tells me he and his group are seeking tenants (corrected) for yet another Center City apartments and retail project, on Brandywine Realty Trust's grass-covered block on the north side of 20th and Market (1919 Market) next to Independence Blue Cross. Independence is a likely participant. Officials there tell me it's too early to talk about plans.