New owners see ill-fated Trump Tower Phila. plan as template to develop site

The planned Trump Tower Philadelphia never came about, but new owners are pursuing their own ambitious plans.

Donald Trump's vision of a 45-story condo-and-hotel tower - or at least one like it - may yet rise on the Philadelphia waterfront.

The new owners of the Delaware River pier where the ill-fated Trump Tower Philadelphia was to have been built see the project as a possible template for developing the site, according to George Polgar, a spokesman for the recent buyers.

The new owners, represented by Northern Liberties-based Shovel Ready Projects, have some alternative uses for Pier 351/2 in mind, too, including a plan for as many as 60 townhouses on the 2.13-acre tract, Polgar said.

"We're pursuing the highest and best use of the property, given the current real estate market," he said.

Trump's original plan called for the $300 million project - with 263 units, a landscaped garden, and a high-end spa - to be completed by mid-2008.

By the time he had acquired the necessary permits and building rights from the city, however, the housing market's downturn had doomed the project.

The company formed to develop the tower filed for bankruptcy in 2013, and the pier was sold later that year by its mortgage holder to a company in Minneapolis for $86,300.

The new group of investors bought the property for $2.4 million on April 23, according to city records. The pier is at Columbus Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue, between Festival Pier and Waterfront Square.

Polgar said the pier was an attractive investment for the current ownership group - which includes Adam Spivak, co-owner of the Electric Factory concert venue - because it is zoned for a wide range of uses, including housing, hotels, and shops.

The permits for Trump's tower are valid through July 2016, he said.

The ownership group is assembling a portfolio of possible plans for the site that it will market to other investors, who would either be brought in as partners or sold the entire project to develop themselves, Polgar said.

"The flexibility gives us the ability to look at projects from as many perspectives as possible," he said.

Matt Ruben, president of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, said he hoped the pier's new owners would ultimately opt not to revive the tower plan. He said the tower's height and other attributes put it at odds with the area's zoning requirements.

"Whoever owns it would do very well to think of something very different from the old Trump Tower proposal," Ruben said.

 


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