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October 26, 2023

New residential tower proposed for vacant site on Jewelers Row

Pearl Properties seeks to build a 34-story high-rise at Seventh and Sansom streets, where several historic buildings were previously demolished by Toll Brothers

Development Jewelers Row
Jewelers Row Tower Source/DAS Architects

Pearl Properties has proposed a residential tower on Jewelers Row at 708 Sansom St. The site has been vacant since 2019, when several historic rowhomes were demolished to make way for another project that was abandoned by Montgomery County developer Toll Brothers.

A residential tower finally could be headed to the vacant strip of Jewelers Row where Toll Brothers controversialy demolished multiple historic buildings before abandoning plans to build a luxury condo complex. 

Pearl Properties presented plans for its proposal Tuesday at a meeting held by the Washington Square West Civic Association and Society Hill Civic Association. Last year, the Philadelphia-based developer acquired the property at the southwest corner of Seventh and Sansom streets from Toll Brothers, a Montgomery County-based developer.

Pearl Properties envisions constructing a tower with nearly 100 residential units, which could include apartments and condos. Early renderings of the 34-story project, called the Arbour House, show a number of landscaping features worked into outdoor areas of the high-rise.

The site sits just off Washington Square and across from the Curtis building. The developers said they hope to make the project a seamless fit with the architecture and feel of the neighborhood, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

"We're trying to really join in the fabric of the neighborhood, different than Toll (Brothers) was, not as much glass and as much modern, but more in line with the what's going on in the neighborhood and the fabric," Jim Pearlstein said at the meeting.

Toll Brothers had planned a 24-story tower where the five historic rowhomes were demolished. Preservationists had fought to save the buildings or require the developer to protect them as part of its plans, but their appeals to have the city intervene were unsuccessful. After the buildings were razed in 2019, Toll Brothers had pursued several design variations for the site. The project stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic and never moved forward.

The new proposal from Pearl Properties includes 50 above-ground valet parking spaces on the tower's second through fourth floors. The ground floor would be reserved for commercial space; the residences would be on the fifth through 34th floors, the developers said.

Jewelers Row TwoSource/DAS Architects

A rendering of Pearl Properties' tower proposal on Jewelers Row.

Jewelers Row ThreeSource/DAS Architects

A rendering of the lower level of The Arbour House.

The vacant site has been an eyesore and a reminder of the lost buildings on Jewelers Row, which dates to the 19th century and is second-only in size to the diamond district in New York City.

The proposal from Pearl Properties, designed by DAS Architects, is expected to go before the city's Zoning Board next winter and could receive recommendations from the Civic Design Review panel in the coming months.