College takes step to buy part of former Inquirer property from Blatstein for apartments

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Artist’s rendering of first phase of the Hamilton apartment complex on a Community College of Philadelphia-owned lot at 440 N. 15th St.

Community College of Philadelphia may have its eye on one of the last available properties that developer Bart Blatstein acquired in his deal to buy the former Inquirer building, which itself is on its way to becoming the city’s new police headquarters.

The college completed an appraisal of the lot at 1540 Hamilton St. in connection with the so-called Hamilton residential towers being built on an adjacent parcel owned by CCP, school spokeswoman Linda Wallace said in an email this week. She said the school has not decided to purchase the 1540 Hamilton St. parcel following the appraisal.

Wallace disclosed no other details about the potential transaction, including when the appraisal was ordered, and it’s unclear whether the 23,000-square-foot lot, on the southeast corner of 16th and Hamilton Streets, remains available. Blatstein said in an interview Thursday that the parcel “is not currently for sale.”

The property is part of a package of four parcels that were included in Blatstein’s $22.7 million acquisition in 2011 of 400 N. Broad St., former home of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com. Also included were a 31,000-square-foot lot at 1527-47 Callowhill St. — just south of the 1540 Hamilton St. land for which the appraisal was completed — and the newspaper building’s parking structure at 1501 Callowhill St.

Philadelphia City Council approved a plan in May to acquire the 93-year-old newspaper tower, along with the parking garage, for conversion into the city’s new Police Administration Building, replacing the dated 750 Race St. structure known as the Roundhouse.

No plans have emerged for the 1527-47 Callowhill St. lot.

Wallace shared no specific details of how the 1540 Hamilton St. parcel would be used in connection with the Hamilton development. The project, which is being completed by Radnor Property Group of Wayne through a ground lease with CCP for its 1.7-acre property at 440 N. 15th St., is to eventually consist of two towers encompassing about 500 apartments.

The developer began work on the project’s first phase — a 10-story, 279-unit building — in the spring. For that phase of work, Radnor Property Group received a $48.5 million construction loan from Santander Bank N.A.’s commercial real estate group and $16.5 million in preferred equity from an insurance company, according to a June announcement from real estate services firm Holliday Fenoglio Fowler L.P., which arranged the financing.

Radnor Property Group president David Yeager said he had no knowledge of the school’s plans for the 1540 Hamilton St. property and referred questions to Lynette M. Brown-Sow, CCP’s vice president for marketing and government relations, who declined to comment.

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