Proposed $1B Philadelphia Skyscraper Gets Zoning Approvals, Awaits City OK

The American Commerce Center, a $1 billion, mixed-use skyscraper proposed for 1800 Arch St., in Philadelphia’s Center City, moved another step closer to reality this week when the city’s planning commission unanimously approved zoning changes for the 1.5-acre site.“We are excited to have moved past this hurdle and look forward to the next step in front of the Philadelphia City Council on Dec. 3rd at 9:00 am and are very encouraged by the broad support we have received across the city for the American Commerce Center,” Garrett Miller, president of Hill International Real Estate Partners, L.P., said in a statement. Following the Dec. 3 public hearing, the City Council could vote on the development proposal as soon as Dec. 11, according to various news reports. Located one block from the new Comcast Center, the American Commerce Center would be 50 percent taller than that building. It would be the tallest skyscraper in Philadelphia and one of the tallest in the United States with a height of approximately 1,510 feet. Designed by the Kohn Pedersen Fox architectural firm, the project is actually proposed as a 67-story office tower connected by a skybridge to a 26-story, luxury hotel. The plan also calls for three stories of retail, including high-end stores, restaurants and other commercial uses. Hill International, a Marlton, N.J.-based global construction management company, formed Hill International Real Estate Partners L.P., in September, according to a Sept. 26 CPN report. The firm, which will serve the commercial and hospitality industries in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, acquired Walnut Street Capital’s interests in the 2.2 million-square-foot American Commerce Center project as its first big move. Walnut Street Capital had purchased the Arch Street parcel in the fall of 2007 in partnership with a national real estate equity fund, according to an Oct. 1, 2007, CPN report. A surface parking lot had operated at the site for years. Hill International, founded in 1976, has 2,300 employees in 80 offices worldwide. It provides program management, project management, construction management and construction claims and consulting services.