High-rise construction in Philadelphia comes in waves. The last big crest a decade ago brought in a handful of pricey condo towers, mainly clustered in established neighborhoods around Rittenhouse and Washington Squares. This time, the tide is rolling westward, from Center City out toward the universities, and it’s looking like a tsunami.
Five apartment towers are or will be going up along Market and Chestnut Streets, between 20th and 38th, one glassy slab after another. The total grows to seven if you count two clever retrofits where developers have piled extra floors on top of existing buildings, turning height-challenged mid-rises into full-fledged high-rises.
This stretch – from the tattered western edge of Center City to the University City Science Center – has long been an ill-defined territory, not uniformly academic, commercial, or residential. The arrival of a couple thousand residents can’t help but make these blocks feel more lived-in, and the bustle should advance the goal of knitting together the two sides of the Schuylkill.