By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A luxury high-rise developer is raising the bar even higher, by breaking ground for 500 Walnut Street, a residential tower facing Independence National Historic Park.

Developer Tom Scannapieco says close to half of 500 Walnut Street is already reserved by people of means, for the 38 units:

“Two-thirds of our buyers are coming in from the suburbs. And one-third of our buyers are relocating from within the city.”

The units are 2700 to 9100 square feet.

“We start around the $3-million range, and go up from there,” Scannapieco explains.

He adds that full floor units comprise half of the building:

“Our penthouse will be pretty expensive, probably $17-million.”

(Tawa) Is that spoken for?

“Not yet,” Scannapieco says. “You’re not too late…”

A rendering of 500 Walnut Street. (Credit: Tom Scannapieco)

A rendering of 500 Walnut Street. (Credit: Tom Scannapieco)

Architect Cecil Baker was mindful that the 26-story glass “needle” tower, next to the Penn Mutual Building, would fit in with its surroundings:

“You are on the beachfront of the most sacred acre in the United States.”

Scannapieco says balconies are 8 1/2 by 20-feet:

“They have sweeping, high value views. You’re not just looking out over rooftops. You’re looking at some of Philadelphia’s magnificent heritage.”

Scannapieco says it features a 4,000 square foot tree-top terrace “with a view right in front of you, you see Independence Hall. It’s a spectacular amenity.’

The $180-million project is expected to be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2017.