Tau Needs Ground Floor Retail

Here’s an architecture question for the readers – does anybody think that the ground floor of the SGO East Annex Tau building could be converted into retail space at a reasonable cost?

The building is so long, and when you walk past it there’s so much dead space without any ground floor retail. Fixing this problem would go a long way toward improving pedestrian connections between the Bethworks area and the retail clusters on 3rd and 4th Sts. I’ve always wondered if it would be possible to replace the row of windows along the bottom with nice big floor-to-ceiling windows.

Especially since the city wants to see the top floors of the SGO become residential units, this would be a great space for a small grocery store, and some other retail for the neighborhood.


  1. Not if the city owns the property. That pits a government entity against the private sector in a way that we don’t want.

    It works for tech centers because these are tenants the private sector doesn’t want, the fail rate is too high. But for straight retail, no.

    Now if the building were owned by the private sector and competing on a level playing field, then yes that’d be a good use.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Is there a way to divide ownership of the floors? Sell off the ground floor to a private owner while retaining city ownership of the top floors?

      • Sure, condo the building. Common structure and a good idea.

      • Even if there isn’t, the city could sign a wildly undervalued lease (such as cities do with sports stadiums often, for example) and then allow a developer’s lease agreement to give them broad control. Best case though is that they can sell parts of the building.

  2. And I love tech centers and business incubators by the way, they’ve been fantastic.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Agreed. The only thing I don’t like about Ben Franklin is that it’s way up on the mountain instead of down in the CBD.

      • That’s a good question though – is this too good of a site? One of the benefits of the Bridgeworks project in Allentown was the reuse of a building that no one wanted. Wasn’t the greatest location in the world but it worked well.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          Might be a little too good. It’s right at the main entrance into the non-casino part of the Bethworks area. It’s not like developers are running out of good sites in that area though. The two blocks across the street are completely empty.

Speak Your Mind