Changing Skyline: Warehouse-size billboard eyed for Philadelphia site near Delaware River

July 22, 2011

Changing Skyline: Warehouse-size billboard eyed for Philadelphia site near Delaware River

By Inga Saffron
Philly.com

It’s as much a Philadelphia landmark as the statue of William Penn on City Hall, though hardly something that aspires to be an emblem of greatness. Is there anyone who has traveled the south Delaware waterfront and not marveled at the four-story concrete skeleton that lurks behind the RiverView shopping center on Columbus Boulevard, its naked columns flouting both gravity and civic decency?

That ruin, which looks as if it had been airlifted in from Kabul, was purchased more than 20 years ago by Bart Blatstein, who was a run-of-the-mill strip-mall developer before graduating to finer things in Northern Liberties. Blatstein unloaded the RiverView in 2003 – as part of a $75 million deal – but held onto its concrete companion in the hope of making a killing when a casino opened on the South Philadelphia waterfront.