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Tuesday, Dec 5, 2023


Redevelopment: Proceeds To Aid Planned City Library

Downtown’s long-vacant building at Fifth Avenue and Broadway may be redeveloped into a high-tech office building soon, said Centre City Development Corp. officials.

The CCDC is seeking proposals to redevelop the building built in 1909. The proposal submission deadline is Aug. 31, said Janice Weinrich, vice president of real estate for the CCDC. Several parties have already picked up proposal packages but no one has returned them yet, she said.

The CCDC is the city’s Downtown redevelopment agency. Its staff will review proposals in September and present recommendations to the board of directors in either October or November, Weinrich said.

Afterward, the CCDC will enter into negotiations with the selected developer on a purchase price and development plan. A combination of office, residential and retail uses are envisioned for the structure.

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The Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation gave the building to the city in December 1999 with the provision proceeds from the sale be used for the city library.

The original architect, F.P. Burnham, designed an 11-story concrete building. In 1914, a second phase was built next door with a 12th story that capped the existing building.

Weinrich said CCDC officials hope the building can be redeveloped with a high-speed fiber-optic network linked to cables in the nearby street.

That plan is part of a strategy to bring a new-media work force to Bandwidth Bay, which city staffers have nicknamed the Downtown neighborhood.

Weinrich said the 124,000-square-foot building has been mostly vacant for the past 15 years, with the previous owners maintaining a small office there and keeping a security guard on the premises.

“One of the challenges with this building is that in 1940 it underwent an extensive remodeling in order to modernize the exterior,” Weinrich said.

Doug Austin, a principal of the architectural firm of Austin Veum Robbins Parshalle and a CCDC board member, said whoever is selected to redevelop the building will have significant design challenges to overcome.

“The developers will have to bring the heating, ventilation and air conditioning up to modern standards and also beef up the electrical system so it can handle modern loads,” Austin said.

He said there’s been an active building restoration program in the neighborhood in recent years. The San Diego Trust and Savings building to the west was converted into a Courtyard by Marriott hotel while the Walker Scott building across Broadway is also undergoing redevelopment, he said.

The building is listed as a potential addition to the local historic sites list but has not retained its historic architectural integrity to be considered for the National Registry of Historic Sites, Weinrich said.


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