Comcast-Spectacor trims the size of its latest entertainment project, eyes 2012 opening
If good things truly come to those who wait, entertainment enthusiasts in South Philadelphia will become supreme revelers in 2012.
It’s the targeted date Comcast-Spectacor and the Baltimore-based Cordish Co. hope to have the newly proposed phase one of the much-hyped Philly Live! entertainment district completed. Dating back to January ’08, developers had envisioned a 350,000-square-foot wonder — stretching from the Wachovia Center, 3601 S. Broad St., to where the now-shuttered Wachovia Spectrum sits — offering pre- and post-game options for sports fanatics, quality cuisine for gastronomes and standout wardrobe selections for clothing connoisseurs.
In separate interviews with the Review last week, the business behemoths confirmed that economic troubles have necessitated a reconsideration of the project’s size and construction.
“Phase one will start with an approximately 40,000-square-foot marketplace featuring the best of Philly foods in a broad main concourse and meeting area, surrounded by up to four distinct dining and entertainment venues,” Jeffrey M. Snyder, who is overseeing the Philadelphia project for Cordish, said.
The venture has yet to yield any commitments, but Snyder is not panicking.
“It is too early to tell how many independent tenants will be added to the phase one marketplace. Interest from excellent tenants has been extremely strong,” he said.
According to published reports, the proposed building would be square-shaped and occupy parts of 11th Street and Pattison Avenue. An architectural rendering of a scaled-down Philly Live! has yet to be presented to the City Planning Commission.
The number of potential phases and the initial cost remain unknown, but Comcast-Spectacor spokesman Ike Richman noted his company’s confidence has not diminished.
“We are very excited for the project and can’t wait for it to begin,” Richman said.
Hoping to add retail and dining options to a stadium-heavy tract, Comcast-Spectacor and Cordish unveiled plans for the entertainment district at a January ’08 press conference. Last July, the Cordish Co., presented its proposed Philly Live! plans to the City Planning Commission. The concept included an assortment of restaurants with outdoor seating, a hotel along Pattison Avenue where the Spectrum still sits, as well as a spa or health club.
More than 300 nights a year, the sports complex — also home to the Flyers, Sixers, Eagles and Phillies — is entertainment central for concerts, games and family shows.
“The Philly Live! project would give people more options for shopping and dining. With this building, they would be able to come early and stay later,” Richman said.
First, however, the Spectrum, which debuted in September 1967, must go. Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider has said in published reports that the Spectrum will be gone within the next few months, a relative time period that has stalled the Philly Live! project’s structure.
To date, the proposed entertainment area has received mixed reviews from residents, including those residing within the Sports Complex Special Services District (SCSSD), 3300 S. Seventh St. Through four districts, the 7-year-old nonprofit serves approximately 9,000 residents occupying 4,200 households surrounding the sports complex. To uphold its belief in promoting community interests, it has had correspondence with both partners to discuss community concerns. The introduction of phases has won its approval.
“The phased approach makes sense given today’s financial challenges,” Shawn Jalosinski, executive director for the SCSSD, said in last week’s interview with the Review. “It will better allow the Sports Complex to incrementally adjust to the new conditions resulting from the Philly Live! project.”
Lydia Mongelini, a resident of the 1500 block of Hulseman Street — within SCSSD’s District 2 — expressed mixed feelings on the project.
“I’m a sucker for tradition, so I’ll miss the Spectrum. I’m eager, though, to see what the next complex does for our economy,” she said.
Jeremy Frye, of the 800 block of Oregon Avenue — within SCSSD’s District 3 —said he finds the project useless.
“I go to Center City for everything other than for sports. What could they possibly put there, another sports bar? The whole idea bores me,” he said.
According to Cordish, the building’s offerings remain variable.
“Some of the types of venues being discussed are an upscale dining experience, a casual dining area, an entertainment venue such as a dueling piano concept and a sports bar,” Snyder said.
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.
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.
What are your thoughts on the proposed concept of a downsized Philly Live?
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...
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?”
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.