In her Changing Skyline blog post today, Inga Saffron calls the design of the proposed 1,510 foot skyscraper at 18th and Arch (to be called American Commer Center (ACC)), a “big, fat hulking mess.” Ouch. Not exactly what Hill International, the ACC’s developers, would hope for in Saffron’s review.
There’s been lots of racket – both in support and against – what (if built) would replace the Comcast Center as Philadelphia’s tallest building. On Wednesday, Philadelphia City’s Council Committee voted unanimously to allow Hill International Real Estate to build the estimated $1.1 billion “Madison Avenue lifestyle” (as they tout it themselves) tower. What does $1.1 billion get ya?, you might wonder. Plans currently include a 63-floor office tower and 26-story hotel with a department store (ladies, pray for a Saks), a movie/dinner theater and supermarket.
While opponents of the building argue that there just isn’t enough space at the 18th and Arch location, advocates foresee it as Philadelphia’s very own version of New York’s Time Warner Center. Arguments about a lack of tenants to fill the space are met with opinions that it will bring thousands of jobs to our city in hopes to improve employment rates.
If the building does pass all zoning regulations (which at this point, it looks likely), the American Commerce Center could do wonders for Philadelphia marketing and tourism initiatives. If the ACC goes up, it will be the 3rd largest skyscraper in the world, closely tailing Shangai and Taipai - and the United States’ tallest. Not bad for a city that’s largely recognized for its culinary art – the cheesesteak. As America’s tallest building, the ACC has the potential to bring massive foot traffic and international tourists as well as curiosity to the City of Brotherly Love.
What Philadelphia citizens can appreciate is the fact that our city is growing. As marketers, we recognize that there’s nothing better than what the mere prospect of such an enormous (both in stature and in concept) tower can do for Philadelphia’s growth and prosperity. Whether built or not, we should welcome the conversations that arise out of the planning of our city’s evolution.