W. Philly apartment tower, community center and church project breaks ground Thursday

university city 38chestnut rendering
A rendering of the proposed 38Chestnut apartment tower and glass community center adjoining the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. Courtesy of Radnor Property Group

A ground-breaking ceremony is taking place at 2 p.m. Thursday at 38th and Chestnut streets in West Philadelphia, where a new apartment tower is being built in conjunction with the expansion of the 150-year-old church next door.

“This is a unique situation,” said David Yeadon, president of Radnor Property Group, which is developing the project. “I’m not aware of anything else in Philadelphia that is engaging the community like this.”

On the corner, a new 25-story residential tower, to be known as 38Chestnut, is planned to be built with 276 units of market rate housing aimed at graduate students and professionals.

The new addition to University City is planned to include a fitness center, a green roof with a Zen garden, underground parking, attached office space and ground floor retail.

The collaborative project with the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral was designed over three years.

“It’s been a long-time dream. We are thankful to God for coming this far by faith. We’ve overcome many obstacles,” said the Cathedral’s dean, The Very Rev. Judith A. Sullivan.

Plans call for an early learning center for children in the undercroft of the church, with scholarships available for about 37 percent of the children enrolled.

A glass community center planned between the church and the apartment tower will be open to neighbors and community groups.

It’s the first major project for the church since it was rebuilt in 1906 following a fire, Sullivan said.

Twenty percent of the project’s $110 million budget will be covered by federal New Markets tax credits, Yeadon said, which subsidized the community center and cathedral projects.

“This enables the cathedral to preserve and maintain itself; that’s really the gem of the block,” Yeadon said.

The apartments are expected to be available for occupancy in summer 2015.

The groundbreaking ceremony will begin in the cathedral at 3701 Chestnut St. at 2 p.m. Thursday, and continue outside the future location of 38Chestnut, 13-19 South 38th St.

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