February 25: Tower planned for behind Lit Bros. | Philly’s middle class decline | Luxe residential for Broad and Chestnut | Lovett Library overhaul | Tastykakes at 100

Good morning, Streeters. Here’s what’s buzzing on this frosty morning:

Today the Philadelphia Historical Commission’s Architectural Committee will evaluate designs for a slender, plain 35-story tower for 7th and Filbert that Brickstone hopes to build behind the historic Lit Brother’s department store at 8th and Market. The Inquirer reports that the tower is planned for the “center-rear” of the Mellon Independence Center, set back 180 feet from Market Street and designed in a neutral palette to reduce the visual impact on the Lit Brothers facade. The tower would have ground-floor retail, five floors of commercial office space, and the rest would be residential.

A new Pew report revealed that between 1970-2010 Philadelphia’s middle class shrank 17% compared with 10% nationally. The Inquirer notes that the city’s smaller middle class today, down to 42% of households from 59% in 1970, has less chance at upward mobility, as “middle class residents pay more, spend more, use fewer services against the taxes they pay, and are a stepping-stone for those seeking to climb the income ladder.” Pew also found that “only Baltimore and Detroit had higher percentages of lower-class households, and smaller percentages of upper-class households.” One upside: Philadelphia’s middle class is more racially diverse than it was 40 years ago.

MRP Residential purchased the residential floors of a building at the southeast corner of Broad and Chestnut and plans to convert them from student housing to luxury apartments. The Business Journal reports that MRP Residential purchased floors 4-17, which currently serves as a residential hall for Art Institute of Philadelphia students, and plans to convert them into 220 units of high-end housing. The commercial tenants, Capital Grille and Olive Garden at the ground level, will remain.

Over the weekend Mt. Airy residents got a first look at plans to expand and modernize the Lovett Library. NewsWorks reports that under the Free Library’s 21st Century Libraries Initiative the Lovett Library will grow by one-third, and the layout will be changed to create designated spaces for meetings or lectures, teenagers, computing, quiet space, and a café.

Tastykakes turns 100 today. The Inquirer looks at how well company has done since Flowers Foods rescued Tasty Baking Co from bankruptcy and started operations at a new plant in the Navy Yard.

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