City officials are starting a new search for a development team to renovate the ornate former Family Court Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway after canceling plans to have it revamped into a luxury hotel.
The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. plans to post a solicitation Friday seeking developers interested in overhauling the 247,000-square-foot, Beaux-Arts building from 1941 and an adjacent empty lot.
The city has no preferred use for the building at 1801 Vine St., but plans to heavily consider the degree to which proposals involve traditionally underrepresented groups, according to an advance copy of the solicitation document, the request for qualifications.
Plans must include, however, 60,000 square feet of space on the empty lot at 1901 Wood St. for an expansion of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Parkway Central Branch across the street, according to the document. This is to include a community center, auditorium, and storage and office space.
The “primary objective in issuing this solicitation is to select a diverse, experienced, capable and qualified development team that will ultimately plan and implement a dynamic commercial development that significantly enhances and complements the existing cultural, commercial and residential developments along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and to maximize the value of the property for the city,” the PIDC wrote in the document.
The solicitation comes about 7½ months after the PIDC broke off an agreement to sell the family court building to Peebles Corp. for the Corral Gables, Fla.-based developer to revamp into a 203-room luxury hotel. Officials said their decision was in response to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on hospitality demand.
Peebles had been awarded the project after a competitive bidding process in 2014, but had struggled to begin work at the site in the face of financial obstacles and issues related to the building’s historic preservation.
Developers have until Sept. 17 to respond to the new solicitation. The PIDC will winnow those responses into a shortlist of bidders who will be invited to submit detailed proposals, the agency said.