ULI Philadelphia’s recently released TAP report made headlines this week for its recommendations to revitalize the Reading Terminal Headhouse, a historically important but highly underutilized asset located in the heart of East Market. Conducted on behalf of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, the report outlines some of the major challenges and potential solutions facing the Headhouse.
As reported in the Philadelphia Business Journal: “The ULI panel concluded that while it may not look like it at first blush, Reading Terminal Headhouse is a complicated space that really does need some help.
“The panel found the revitalization of the headhouse challenging because of its multiple and diverse purposes, its physical layout, and because several of its most successful tenants — the popular Dunkin’ Donuts and the heavily used Wine and Spirits shop, for example — do not necessarily reflect the highest
“You look at some of the existing uses and you wonder whether they are the highest and best uses for a space as prominent as the headhouse,” said Jay Appleton, who co-chaired the ULI review and is an executive with Greyhawk, a construction management firm. “The commerce element is an overwhelming topic here. How do you take care of loyal tenants now and bring in more suitable tenants to the space? One constraint is the ownership of the headhouse. The true stakeholders don’t have a voice. There’s a lot to be thought about.”
In addition the panel found:
- The building’s former, primary purpose as the entrance to the Pennsylvania Convention Center is no longer relevant and most visitors to the convention center enter from Arch Street;
- The building isn’t easily recognizable as an entrance to the regional rail station, the Gallery or Reading Terminal Market;
- Reading Terminal Market is not visible from the interior of the headhouse and is only accessible from a narrow, nondescript interior corridor;
- While the headhouse is busy during rush hours, the rest of the day lacks vitality and the space seems wasted;
- The escalators are a big problem. They block any meaningful connectivity to Reading Terminal Market and make navigating the ground-floor lobby difficult.
- The common areas look dated, the flooring appears dirty and slippery when wet, lighting is poor, signage terrible, homeless take shelter in the lower level, which is often desolate, and the ownership structure is confounding.
The redevelopment authority was pleased with the ULI report and is interested in implementing many of the recommendations, Abernathy said. The upcoming meetings with stakeholder including neighbors, such as Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which is redeveloping the Gallery, will begin that process.”
While there are still tactical issues to be worked out, The TAP report provided vital research and analysis to move forward with this revitalization. Click here to read the full story in the Philadelphia Business Journal.
For the full report, click here.