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Chestnut Street In West Philly To Get Density Boost From 3 New Multifamily Projects

A multifamily development boom is happening within a relatively small stretch of Chestnut Street, just west of University City.

Three proposals within a five-block stretch of the corridor are set to have their first hearings with Philly's Civic Design Review in October, on top of several projects already under construction or recently completed, such as Alterra Property Group's modular Next LVL building at 4233 Chestnut St., containing 281 apartments.

Should all three of the new proposals come to fruition, a further 738 units will be added in the small neighborhood known to some as Spruce Hill, all on the north side of Chestnut.

A rendering of the multifamily project proposed at 4519 Chestnut St. in West Philadelphia.

The largest of the three developments going before CDR, 4519 Chestnut, is set to proceed by-right on land owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The site currently is home to two small buildings and a parking lot for the adjacent West Catholic Preparatory High School, which sold the development rights to the parcel to keep the school's lights on.

Part of the process of greenlighting the parcel for development included getting the parcel's zoning upgraded from CMX-2 to CMX-3, significantly increasing the allowable height and density for construction. City Council has approved the rezoning legislation.

On the site, a developer identified as EM WC Chestnut LLC has proposed a seven-story, 327-unit multifamily building totaling over 223K SF. The proposal, designed by Sitio Architecture and Urbanism, does not include any ground-floor retail, instead opting to use the ground floor for a residential lobby and amenity space, with a resident courtyard and surface-level parkway also taking up some of the lot's space.

EM WC Chestnut was formed in Wilmington, Delaware, in April through a filing agency. A similarly named company, EM Venture, was formed in 2018 with the same headquarters address in Conshohocken as Exeter Property Group, soon to become EQT Exeter after being acquired by a Swedish company. In the past couple of years, Exeter developed an apartment building on the 3700 block of Chestnut Street on land it acquired from a Catholic student services organization.

A rendering of the proposed apartment building at 4301 Chestnut St. in West Philadelphia.

Two blocks to the east of the West Catholic project, a developer identified as 4301 Chestnut LLC is proposing a 223K SF building with 275 apartments and 30K SF of ground-floor retail. The development, designed by JKRP Architects, also is set to offer an underground parking garage of 75 spaces.

With the parcel at 4301 Chestnut being zoned as CMX-4, the project can proceed without requiring a variance. The land is currently occupied by a strip mall that includes a Fine Wine and Good Spirits, the state-run liquor store. Including a roof deck, the building is set to contain nearly 17K SF of amenity spaces for residents.

Though 4301 Chestnut LLC is the listed owner on the CDR application, city property records show that the deed is held by a trust in the name of Robert N. Racciatti as of March. Racciatti is a licensed real estate broker employed by Apartments at Penn, a landlord focusing on renting apartments near the University of Pennsylvania to students. The western edge of UPenn's campus is less than four blocks away from 4301 Chestnut.

A rendering of the proposed multifamily development at 4145 Chestnut St. in West Philadelphia.

The smallest of the three Chestnut Street proposals on CDR's October docket is at 4145 Chestnut St., where a developer identified as 4141 Chestnut Acquisition LLC has proposed a 136-unit apartment building totaling around 140K SF, including a 7,728 SF ground-floor retail space and nearly 13K SF of underground parking.

A hookah bar called Cleopatra Cafe currently sits on the parcel within a low commercial building, with a rear surface parking lot behind it. With the lot zoned CMX-4, the multifamily proposal does not require any zoning changes. As at 4301 Chestnut, a roof deck and ground-floor resident lobby are among the planned resident amenity spaces.

The listed owner of the parcel on the CDR application is Ritis LLC, which purchased the property from a rug cleaning company as part of a multi-parcel deal worth $575K in 2000, according to city property records. Ritis lists its headquarters at 416 S0uth 41st St., nearby the proposed development and also the listed headquarters of Apartments at Penn.

CORRECTION, SEPT. 29, 1:45 P.M. ET: a A previous version of this article misidentified the government body that rezoned the parcel at 4519 Chestnut St. This article has been updated.