Three renowned entities announced updated plans for a massive entertainment district.
With the Flyers off to a fantastic start and Jimmy Rollins’ decision to remain with the Phillies, early April visitors to the South Philadelphia sports complex figure to arrive with abundant expectations.
Hoping to pair the area’s athletic prowess with culinary and entertainment options, Comcast-Spectacor, The Cordish Companies and Comcast Corp. representatives united at 1100 Pattison Ave. to disclose the first phase components of Xfinity Live! Philadelphia Dec. 15. Their project stands to use the address as a hub for 55,000 square feet of enjoyment and ingenuity.
Ladders, lifts and ropes met the eyes of the morning participants as they inspected space whose overseers are moving forward with a nearly four-year-old idea. Donning suits and hard hats, the guests will gladly swap their attire for shorts and caps when a collection of spots opens April 5.
Cordish is tackling its first stadium-area, $60-million endeavor minus any public subsidies and with an even financing split with Comcast-Spectacor. With a reputation for opulence, the Maryland behemoth soon may enjoy more success courtesy of the plan’s centerpiece, The Philly MarketPlace. The parties expect to add other eateries shortly, but Reed Cordish, vice president of the Baltimore-based company, practically glowed as he announced Chickie’s & Pete’s, Nick’s Roast Beef and The Original Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co. will halt hunger within the district’s largest open interior stretch. Custom draft tables, a raw bar, sports viewing availability and a VIP lounge will augment the area.
Dubbed “the crown jewel of Xfinity Live! Philadelphia,” the Spectrum Grille promises a sophisticated dining experience with chops, seafood and steaks. Nightly cocktail parties also will occur.
Gathered on the former site of the Spectrum, the lauded arena whose 44-year presence ended in May after six months of demolition, the prominent figures behind the deal addressed their brainchild’s role in building the local economy and bolstering the notion of South Philadelphia as a recreational destination.
“This is a great day for all of us,” Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko said of the latest step in actualizing a dream that began as Philly Live! in January 2008.
Lauding Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way; Lincoln Financial Field, 1101 Pattison Ave.; and the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., he said the locations needed an amenity. That thinking spurred him and chairman Ed Snider to partner their 37-year-old sports and entertainment company with Cordish, the country’s largest developer of entertainment districts.
“We wanted an area for people to have some fun,” Luukko said in the vicinity of a section that should lead patrons’ crusades for contentment before, during or after a game or concert or separate from the existing venues’ offerings.
The current sites welcome eight million souls annually, Snider said, so the man whose company owns the Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center and four Flyers Skate Zone community ice skating and hockey rinks set out to sate physical and diversional appetites. After Luukko revealed the development will yield 750 full- and part-time jobs, Snider followed with a brief overview of the initial phase, which Cordish believes will have two successors. He noted the original 350,000-square-foot vision needed adjustments because of the rough economy but vowed that the first product will wow its attendees.
“This is the first phase of what is going to be a phenomenal complex,” the 78-year-old seer said.
He said the 1996 construction of the Wells Fargo Center helped Comcast-Spectacor to devise a deal with the City to look for what he termed a “connector,” an entity to assist with growth. He praised Cordish as the force that will help him to show his appreciation for South Philadelphia’s fervent sports fans and concertgoers.
“Xfinity Live! Philadelphia will be the most exciting venue of its type anywhere in the world,” he said.
The 48-year-old Comcast Corp. uses its namesake as the brand for its triple play design, comprising digital cable, cable Internet access and cable telephone services. Responsible for developing, producing and distributing entertainment, news and sports for global audiences as the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, it serves millions and will offer plenty of technological goodies to the local masses.
“This area has such potential, and this district will build upon the vibrancy and history of the South Philadelphia sports complex,” Comcast Cable’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Watson said.
A business centenarian at 101, Cordish has developed numerous urban entertainment zones in the United States — including St. Louis, Baltimore and Houston — and sought to add Philadelphia because of its possessing three key intangibles.
“We look for cities with great potential, tireless political leadership and local companies that could serve as operators,” Reed Cordish said as his father, David Cordish, nodded approvingly. “We found them in Philadelphia.”
Famous and perhaps infamous for their aggressive play, the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974 and ’75 and will serve as the theme behind The Broad Street Bullies Pub, which will feature memorabilia from the franchise’s golden era and will offer a mix of gourmet hamburgers and traditional pub fare, along with nearly 50 drafts on tap. Live acoustic entertainment will make evening outings exercises in music appreciation.
Having resided outside of South Philly for only eight months of his 33 years, Paul C. Stricker has firm ideas on what it needs to thrive. Knowing money usually fuels progress for its neighborhoods, he has classified concepts as helpful or detrimental and always has considered casinos catastrophic.
Reed Cordish had metaphors on his mind during Friday afternoon’s official opening of Xfinity Live! Philadelphia, 1100 Pattison Ave., a $60 million entertainment district more than four years in the making.
Comcast-Spectacor, Cordish Co. and the City announced the status of the Philly Live! project during Tuesday afternoon’s press conference at the sports complex. Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Peter Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor, and Reed Cordish, vice president of the Cordish Companies, highlighted the ongoing construction of the entertainment, retail and dining development on the former site of the Spectrum.
Who could forget that memorable rock-the-baby slam dunk Julius “Dr. J” Erving unveiled in the 1983 NBA Finals where he practically took off from the three-point line punctuating the Sixer’s four-game sweep against the Lakers at the Spectrum? Or what about the lore that Bobby Clarke’s Broad Street Bullies created by dominating the league during the ’74 and ’75 seasons where they won two Stanley Cups, also at “America’s Showplace?”
If good things truly come to those who wait, entertainment enthusiasts in South Philadelphia will become supreme revelers in 2012.
Not everyone is ecstatic about the new neighbor expected to come in after the Spectrum moves out. "It is understood that Comcast-Spectacor reserves certain development rights and I think the SCSSD community directors remain open-minded, but are very concerned and committed to representing neighborhood interests as the process moves forward," Shawn Jalosinski, executive director of the Sports Complex Special Services District, said via e-mail Tuesday. The "process" is the creation of Philly Live!, a retail/dining/entertainment district slated to replace the fabled arena, and link the stadiums in the complex. Some residents, Jalosinski added, were under the impression discussions about Philly Live! were complete after reading the July 30 Review's "Complex Makeover." The process, though, is far from over. As with the creation of Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field in 2003, the district, which serves neighborhoods south of Oregon Avenue to I-95 from Seventh Street to 20th and strives to maintain quality of life for neighborhoods surrounding the arenas, tackles issues of security, traffic and parking. With the pending development, the impact of demolishing the 40-something Spectrum and building Philly Live! have been added to the mix, Jalosinski said. The City Planning Commission will consider all of the above factors when it comes...
Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider had already envisioned further developments to the sports complex 15 years ago when he created the master plan for what would become the Wachovia Center in 1996. The concept passed by City Council two years earlier, included possible phases of development to come following the completion of the new home of the Flyers and Sixers. In '94, Snider said, "The potential exists for a truly exciting and unique entertainment complex like no other in the country." That vision is starting to become reality as The Cordish Co., which is partners with Comcast-Spectacor for the proposed Philly Live! entertainment district, presented its plan July 21 to the Planning Commission for informational purposes only, which is policy for major projects, Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor and the commission's executive director, said. "The public and commission have a chance to see it and digest it," he said. "Some thinking time is necessary." The next step is to get the plan on the commission's agenda for a vote, Gary Block, Cordish's vice president, said. "If all goes well, they'll give us the green light to go to the planning commission for a final vote," he added. Philly Live!, a $100 million, 350,000-square-foot project, will encompass restaurants, retail...
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