As the new Mormon temple on Vine Street begins to rise, the denomination hopes to expand its footprint in Center City Philadelphia.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints plans a terraced, high-rise apartment tower with retail spaces and a meetinghouse ext to its new temple.
The proposed project was announced last week. The site is now a parking lot at 1601 Vine St. The church’s real estate manager, Michael Marcheschi, said the meeting space will be open to the public as well as church members: “The addition of the meetinghouse or chapel will bless the lives of the entire neighborhood and community by creating a location to gather, recreate and worship. It will assist individuals and especially families and cultivate hope for life faith in God and charity for others.” The church did not ask the city for any money or incentives. “You know we have a lot of people coming in here and telling us that they are going to do a lot of things and more often than not unfortunately it never happens,” City Council President Darrell Clarke said. “There was never any doubt [about the temple project], but seeing it actually come to life is really awesome.” The church estimates the apartment/retail complex will create up to 1,800 construction jobs.
Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the firm that designed the Comcast Tower, has been hired for this project. Paul Whalen of the firm, described the planned design: “The residential tower will rise 32 floors with vertical bands of windows and setbacks to articulate the facades and a variety of rental apartments some with corner balconies providing views out to the city. Setbacks at the top of the building will offer special apartments with terraces and an open loggia for tenants will offer views to Center City.” The tower will have more than 200 units, plus the retail spaces and public meetinghouse. The temple rising on the next block is reserved exclusively for church members.