The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), which is giving a shot of adrenaline to Philadelphia’s underused waterfront, is planning several new public spaces to draw people to the water and spur investment. You may have already heard about Spruce Street Harbor Park, a pop-up opening Friday, that’ll have floating barges and gardens, fountains, a boardwalk, a “mist garden,” lots of neat lighting, and a floating restaurant by Jose Garces. A large team of the region’s top designers and architects worked together on the project, including Groundswell Design Group, Interface Studios, and Digsau, as well as The Heads of State (for branding).
The Inquirer’s Jessica Parks reports that Montgomery County, after selling off much of its property over the last year, is reconsidering what to do with its headquarters and central offices in Norristown. The county is hiring a consultant to study the options, “including rehabilitating One Montgomery Plaza, building atop the county courthouse plaza, replacing an underground parking garage, renovating or tearing down the old stone prison, or even expanding the county footprint by buying the Post Office building behind the courthouse.” The 10-story One Montgomery Plaza alone needs at least $17 million in repairs.
Revolution Development Group says it plans to construct eight new townhomes, to be called Bread Street Estates, on the site of a parking lot at the corner of Race and Bread streets in Old City. The project’s leasing agent told Curbed Philly that the developer will break ground in August with the hope of finishing construction in 10 months, though that may only be the first four homes since the developer’s website says that this will be a two-phase project. According to city records, L&I granted a construction permit for the project in April.
On Thursday, 2116 Chestnut, the good-looking apartment tower on 21st and Chestnut, hosted an open house with hors d’oeuvres and drinks and a DJ. The event was hosted on the building’s “amenity floor,” which has a fitness center, entertainment center (a dark room with comfy chairs and a huge TV that tenants can sign up to use), and roof deck with greenery and a hot tub, among other things. The catering was provided by Fooda, the Chicago-based company that arrived in Philly just a couple months ago. Tours of units were offered, and there was lots of schmoozing.
A condominium for sale on the 29th floor of the Residences at the Ritz Carlton tower across from City Hall was featured in the New York Times real estate section last week as part of a feature called “What You Get for… $2.5 Million.” So, what do you get?
Well, you get a living room, dining room, and master bedroom all with a curtain wall of glass offering the view of City Hall’s clock tower at eye level. You get a foyer with a straight view through the living room out the windows. You get a special wing for guests with two bedrooms and a separate entrance. You get a master bath with “both a shower and a bathtub surrounded with white marble tiles shot with gray,” and a kitchen “styled with black cabinets, black-and-white granite countertops and gray tile floors.” You get a parking space, and access to a private park and a chauffeur-driven car and an on-site health club. (You do have to pay a little over $3,000 a month for those amenities.)
Developer Carl Dranoff, of Avenue of the Arts fame, is starting a new boutique real estate brokerage with the help of partner Marianne Harris, the Inquirer’s Alan J. Heavens reports. The brokerage won’t be limited to Dranoff’s own properties—it’ll cover much of Center City and adjacent neighborhoods, and fill a need Dranoff’s company has seen among its customers:
For Harris, the tipping point was 10 Rittenhouse, the troubled luxury high-rise Dranoff stepped in to finish and sell for iStar Financial, the senior lender, in late 2011.
“We are pretty much sold out there, and buyers unable to find a condo there keep asking, ‘Can you show me something else in Center City?’ ” she said. “Having our own brokerage will allow us to show them others.”
The new company, called Dranoff Properties Realty Inc., introduced itself with a full-page advertisement in today’s Inquirer. It’s just one of many new projects for Dranoff: he just finished Southstar Lofts at Broad and South, and within the next year hopes to start construction on two towers in Philly and one in Newark, NJ.
2116 Chestnut, the 34-story apartment tower near Rittenhouse Square that opened last summer, will host an open house on Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will be held on the building’s rooftop deck, and will feature complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. There will be a DJ and tours of sample apartment units for all guests.
The slick glass 2116 Chestnut has 321 units and was built by the John Buck Co. of Chicago, with additional funding from the Indure Fund, a union-backed real estate investment fund, and the state of Pennsylvania. Electricians’ union chief John Dougherty played a major role in getting the project off the ground.
Philadelphia-based Barzilay Development has converted a former iron works in Northern Liberties into 12 lofts with ceilings rising to 22 feet. The project is called Iron Mill Lofts and is located at 1156 North Third Street. Rents start at $1,750 for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit with private entryway.
The building was originally constructed in 1871 as Eagle Iron Works, which manufactured steam engines, castings, boilers, and similar products. One of its founders patented the hollow pressure point. Today, the lofts retain industrial details like exposed brick, ductwork and wood ceilings.
The Curtis Center will be partially converted into apartments by its new owners, the Inquirer’s Joe DiStefano reports. The new owners, Keystone Property Group of Bala Cynwyd, and Mack-Cali Realty Corp. of North Jersey, paid $125 million for the building, which occupies an entire city block and also faces Washington Square.
Familiar with this kind of thing? “Smack in the middle of downtown Philadelphia’s busy Broad Street sits the towering Divine Lorraine. When night falls and the rest of the city’s skyscrapers are illuminated, the former hotel and religious compound remains forebodingly dark and lifeless. Like Philadelphia wasn’t scary enough.” (That’s from the Daily Dot in October.) But no longer! Sometime soon, we may finally be rid of people judging Philadelphia on the abysmal condition of the Divine Lorraine. Scaffolding is up around the lower levels of the building, most graffiti has been washed off the exterior, and now we have a new rendering from developer Eric Blumenfeld of the future Divine Lorraine at night: occupied, open to the street, with the big sign relit in red neon and lighting on the facade. Scary no more.