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Converting old courthouse to hotel an exciting, if challenging, prospect

5/10/2013 | Real Estate Blog

Adaptive reuse of real property can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that many developers look forward to taking on.

City development officials are currently involved in finding another use for the old Family Court building at 15th and Arch streets when the court moves into new quarters next year. Back in 2010, former Governor Ed Randall committed $200 million in state funds for the new courthouse, said the old courthouse would one day become a hotel. 

Officials from the city and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. had five development teams compete for the opportunity to purchase the building and take on the conversion. Those teams are scheduled to submit proposals by July 10 for the project.

The city’s goal for the project is to create a new destination and to sow the seeds for additional development in the surrounding neighborhood. To that end, the city identified preferred public uses at the street level such as retail and restaurants, meeting spaces, lobbies. The upper stories of the building are to be used for the hotel itself.

Officials from the city will evaluate proposals and negotiate with competing development groups, with the goal of having the winning bidder begin the project as soon as possible. Five groups are currently preparing development proposals. That list was reduced from nine who responded to a request for qualifications last year.

The project, while exciting, comes with certain challenges, including the preservation of 37 murals and stain-glass windows, and ensuring that any rooftop additions do not detract from the building’s original architectural intent. 

Source: Source:, “From Family Court to elegant hotel?,” Bob Warner, May 7, 2013.