Once upon a time not long ago, the half block between City Hall and Chestnut Street, east of 15th Street, was a perfectly functioning section of the city. Then, on February 23, 1991 everything changed. The worst fire in the history of the city started on the 22nd floor of One Meridian Plaza and burned for 18 hours, ruining the building and claiming the lives of three firefighters in the process. It took eight years for the building's owners and insurers to reach an agreement and demolish the building. Carefully done one floor at a time, One Meridian Plaza was finally cleared and Craig Spencer's Arden Group, which purchased the site, replaced it with a temporary parking lot.

And now, the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia is under construction. While hotel-condo arrangements are not a new concept (The Rittenhouse, the Windsor and the Warwick all immediately come to mind), the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton has grown into a recognized luxury brand, with locations on the Boston Common, Central Park South in New York, Georgetown, DC and a number of others.

Philadelphia's Residences, though, affords an opportunity most of the others do not: new construction at the most central of locations. Directly across from (and celebrating the views of) City Hall, the Residences' residents can leave their cars underground (in the private garage) and either walk to wherever they're going, or be on any of Septa's rail lines without ever walking outside, but instead through a residents-only park with a 12 foot waterfall and a private entrance into the hotel lobby (the giant dome of the former Girard Bank).

New York's Handel Architects (a firm most recently famous for designing the World Trade Center Memorial in NY) have crafted a 48 story, double-glass curtain wall building that's rectangular along 15th Street, and fitted with sharp angles leading toward the existing Ritz-Carlton hotel. At 518', it will stand even with the feet of William Penn across the street on City Hall, making it the 10th tallest building in the city upon its completion.

For more information, visit the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton's official web site HERE.

Special thanks to the Arden Group and Handel Architects for the rendering, and to the Residences' sales staff for use of the photographs of the building's model.