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April 03, 2023

46-story apartment tower proposed atop CVS in Center City

The project from Goodman Properties will preserve the former Aldine Theatre at 19th and Chestnut streets

Development Apartments
Center City Apartment Building Source/CBP Architects

Goodman Properties has proposed a 46-story apartment building in Center City that will preserve the facade of the original Aldine Theatre, currently occupied by a CVS pharmacy.

Developers are planning a 46-story apartment tower that will sit atop a CVS pharmacy at 19th and Chestnut streets in Center City.

The proposal for 1826 Chestnut St. comes from Goodman Properties, which has owned the existing building since 1994. The CVS at the site occupies the former Aldine Theater building. The structure was built in 1921 and served as a theater for much of the 20th century. 

The plan calls for a tower with 213 units including a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio apartments. A multi-level penthouse will occupy the top floors. At 576 feet tall, the proposed tower would fall just shy of the top 10 tallest buildings in the city and become the second-tallest residential structure after The Laurel at 1911 Walnut St. in Rittenhouse.

During a presentation to the Center City Residents' Association, the developers said the plan will preserve the original structure that houses the CVS. The building was nominated for the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2020 due to its architectural and cultural significance. 

The 1,300-seat Aldine Theater was built in a Classical Revival style with Georgian detailing. It was one of the city's original "movie palaces," whose exteriors called back to the tradition of the Italian Renaissance palazzo.

Aldine Theatre PhotoSource/City of Philadelphia

The Aldine Theatre, constructed by prominent local builders William Steele & Sons, is shown above in 1921.

When Goodman Properties purchased the property in the mid-1990s, CVS originally wanted a new structure at the site. The developer negotiated to renovate the building and preserve the theater building. The planned tower will sit behind the CVS, with a residential entrance and courtyard accessible from 19th Street. There will be 64 parking spaces in a two-level underground garage.

During construction, the CVS will fill prescriptions at a nearby satellite location before returning to the completed building. The address is zoned CMX-5, enabling Goodman Properties to proceed with the plan by-right.

The proposal is right next-door to another planned apartment building from Pearl Properties at 1822-24 Chestnut St. That 183-unit project, also by-right, will stand 567 1/2 feet tall, with about 30,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

Goodman Properties anticipates the overlapping construction timelines of the two towers will lead to periods of significant traffic congestion along 19th Street in the years ahead. The developer is still in the early planning stages and does not have a firm timeline in place for the project's completion. Pearl Properties acquired multiple sites surrounding 19th and Chestnut streets in 2020.

The preservation of the storefront in the Goodman Properties plan will keep intact one of the last symbols of the early age of cinema in Philly, where approximately 275 movie theaters opened between 1910 and 1932. The smaller, 470-seat Prince Theatre, now operated by the Philadelphia Film Society at 1312 Chestnut Street, underwent significant alterations after it was purchased in 2015.