Tony Goldman, the developer with the magic touch who transformed SoHo in New York and South Beach in Miami Beach, among many other re-imagined and revived commercial districts on the Atlantic Coast, recently won the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Louise DuPont Crowninshield Award for his “superlative achievement in the preservation and interpretation of our historic and architectural heritage.” Goldman has seen opportunity in older urban enclaves over and over again, and we in Center City Philadelphia are lucky to be receiving the fruits of his vision and investment.
Goldman Properties have rehabbed some 25, mostly historic, buildings in the Midtown Village area just east of Broad Street. (I wish we could agree on a snappier name for what many in the community – although maybe not savvy brokers and marketers – still fondly know as The Gayborhood.) From the signature, Horace Trumbauer-designed Philadelphia Building on Walnut Street and fanning out north and south, Goldman’s retail, office and residential projects have revolutionized the area. Once stagnant and maybe even a little seedy, it’s now an animated district of interesting restaurants and amazing entrepreneurial businesses, attracting hipsters and tourists (even tourists from Jersey).
This week, we midtown denizens are eagerly awaiting the annual launch of the Beaujolais Nouveau vintage, when quite a few of those entrepreneurs will offer tastings, pairings and wine specials at eight restaurants and shopping deals, demonstrations and samplings at six retailers. Vive la Beaujolais Day!
And vive la difference the Goldman touch has made on the larger neighborhood. We’ve waited a long time, but work has started on the shuttered Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Lodge at 12th and Spruce. It looks like the elegant but dingy terra cotta-swathed building will offer full floor flats, with huge windows looking out on 12th Street’s big honey locust trees. Word is that just around the corner, on our neighborhood’s arguably most picturesque street, Camac, the burned-out Lincoln Apartments is poised to be reborn as a boutique hotel. And across the road, Stephen Starr will soon open still another in his seemingly endless herd of dining establishments in the former Deux Chiminees, nee Princeton Club..
Back at the Philadelphia Building, tenant Next American City, the edgy and thought-provoking nonprofit magazine and advocacy group that promotes and celebrates innovation and urban life in cities like Philadelphia, is joined by many youthful, creative economy firms, including my husband’s web development company.
It’s pretty exciting, especially since we’re all looking for signs of a rebounding economy.
Is Tony ahead of the curve? He certainly has been all along. Kudos to Tony Goldman for the incredibly transformative visions he invests in. And kudos to the National Trust for acknowledging his work. Oh, and I can’t wait to smash a couple plates at Opa when it opens on Sansom Street sometime soon.