Design Home 2014 Celebrates Ribbon Cutting Tonight

new home picThis year’s Design Home is in a lovely Wyndmoor neighborhood bordering Chestnut Hill. The street, East Gravers Lane, can get almost pastoral when all the leaves are in, and now that fall is here, the trees in the area are flush with color. The custom home, built by Glenn Falso Jr. of Main Street Development and designed by HarmanDeutsch Architecture and Diane Bishop Interiors, features a stone facade to match surrounding and historic properties. As for the interior? Tonight we’ll find out at the ribbon-cutting.

The house is in such a nice neighborhood — go for a drive, walk in the Wissahickon, and check out the house between now and November 16th. All ticket proceeds benefit MANNA.

Before-and-after gallery below.

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Morning Headlines: Navy Yard Nabs Another HQ

The Navy Yard master plan. Photo credit:

The Navy Yard master plan. Photo credit:

Add another notch in the belt for the Navy Yard: Bala Cynwyd-based NXTsports, which is an organization that offers sports education, events and facilities management, will relocate to the corporate campus that’s home to Urban Outfitters, Glaxo SmithKline and many others. From the Philadelphia Business Journal:

NXTsports currently leases space at 555 City Ave. and considered remaining in the building when it launched its search. It also looked at other office properties in Bala Cynwyd, Conshohocken, Pa., and at the Navy Yard.
“We love the vibe down there,” said Joel Zuercher, chief operating officer and general counsel at the company. “We are a young, energetic company and it seems like that is the place to be for a growing business such as ours.”

NXTsports has gone from three employees to 20 in the last three years and it expects to continue growing. The new space will give its some extra room to accommodate that growth.

NXTsports picks Navy Yard for new headquarters

More headlines, this way…

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Can Center City’s Flying Saucer Be Saved?

A Google Street View photo taken in June of this year shows the building in context.

A Google Street View photo taken in June of this year shows the building in context.

Used to be the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia released an annual list of 12 “endangered properties” — bricks-and-mortar equivalents of trembling polar bears clinging to melting blocks of ice. Today the Alliance announces a change: it’ll release the same kind of list three times a year, with four properties each time, and call it “Places to Save,” which rolls off the tongue and rids the whole endeavor of its woolly mammoth feel.

The four picks for this cycle include the William Penn Inn, the Mt. Moriah Cemetery Gatehouse, the Blue Horizon boxing venue, and the flying saucer in LOVE Park, aka, the Fairmount Park Welcome Center. Now, the first three picks have rather obvious merit, but there are many people who look at that round, midcentury yo-yo building and don’t quite get it. What the heck is it? Why is it?

Designed by architect Roy Larsen of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larsen, it was built in 1960 as the Philadelphia Hospitality Center. This was well before the city’s visitors center was even a glimmer in Philadelphia’s eye, and the architecture and concept were both cutting-edge at the time. “There was a huge amount of civic pride at building this architectural wonder at the base of Penn Center,” says Ben Leech, the Alliance’s director of advocacy. “Architecturally, it’s the last best example of postwar Penn Center optimism.”

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22nd and Market Memorial Park Names Artist

building collapse

Photo of woman at demolition site paying honor to one of the collapse victims. Photo: Laura Kicey.

The most recent Center City Residents Association Newsletter has an update on the memorial park proposed for 22nd and Market, the site of the June 2013 building collapse responsible for the death of seven people: artist Barbara Fox has been selected to design the memorial sculpture. From the newsletter:

As for her winning concept, Fox says she wanted the families to be able to personalize the memorial for themselves. “My idea was to have windows in a house-shaped piece, and each victim’s family could customize how the window would look so that it would mean something to them, like the color of the glass or the texture of the glass. The name of each of the six victims would be etched into the granite over each window. Then, there would be a seventh window for individuals who were injured in the collapse. Above that window it would say ‘for those we remember’. “

All due respect to Fox, who was obviously speaking very preliminarily, let’s memorialize the death of seven people, rather than six, so that Ronald Waggenhoffer is not forgotten. (In case you have forgotten him, read this piece about his suicide.) He was a victim too, and deserves his own window.

Architype: Well Built

1616 Walnut - from Architype Well Built

1616 Walnut’s model units were designed with bold strokes by Floss Barber Inc.
Photograph by Daniel Cox.

I went to NBC 10’s website recently and was met with this headline: “450-Pound Man Hid Marijuana in Stomach Fat.” I didn’t read on — it lacked the element of surprise — but given the combo of obesity and creative problem-solving, I assumed the man was from Philly.

He’s actually from Volusia County, Florida, which made me realize I still have that retrograde notion of our city as a fat, unhealthy place. In the past few years, though, the city has experienced a health and fitness boom that’s radically changed its rep. And now one of Center City’s highest-profile commercial-to-rental conversions — 1616 Walnut — has an entire “wellness floor” with units geared to health-conscious Philadelphians.

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Architype: Lush Life

500 walnut street

Rendering of Cecil Baker design for 500 Walnut Street.

Developer Tom Scannapieco has spent his career surrounded by skeptics — or his career since 1974, at least, when the self-described “urban pioneer” bought property near Spring Garden and created the Wallace Court Condominiums.

He faced doubters again with Waterview, New Hope’s first ultra-luxury residence. “The papers could not believe you could sell million-dollar homes in New Hope,” says Scannapieco. But the houses were gone before the ink on the brochure was dry.

He confronted perhaps his hardiest naysayers with 1706 Rittenhouse, which held its groundbreaking the same week in 2008 that Lehman Brothers went under. Between the building’s record price point and its so-called “B location” (near Rittenhouse Square, but not directly on it), the brokerage and development communities were skeptical. “They’re not in the business of being visionaries,” Scannapieco says. “They only know what they’ve seen work.” Fortunately, 1706 worked. Even during the downturn, it never had to reduce its pricing, and it’s now completely sold out.

Perhaps that’s why there’s so much support for Scannapieco’s latest project, 500 Walnut: a 26-story tower, designed by architect Cecil Baker, that will face Independence Hall. Based on 1706’s success, the brokerage community believes in this venture.

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On the Market: Barbara Greenfield’s Rittenhouse Home

TREND photo by Drew Callaghan via Kurfiss Sotheby's.

TREND photo by Drew Callaghan via Kurfiss Sotheby’s.

As a broker for 50 years for two family firms — Greenfield Realty Co. and Albert M. Greenfield & Co. — Barbara Greenfield was the “grand dame of Philadelphia real estate,” as the Inquirer put it in her April obituary.

Not unlike an obit, the listing for her Rittenhouse home focuses on Greenfield’s personality and accomplishments as well:

Bright, beautiful and determined, she built a high-end real estate business centered on service, one she described as “marrying people with properties,” all the while lending her energy and support to a range of city and arts institutions. Later in life, she created this three-bedroom residence, with help from architect Carl Massara, to be both a respite from her busy professional and civic life and a functional place to entertain friends and family.

Of course, there’s something to be said about the home as well, which is a high-floor, southeast-facing unit right on the Square. “As home to someone who was at the center of city life,” the listing reads, “and for buyers who desire a similar presence, this is a residence with all the right ingredients: location, views, square footage and amenities.”

Gallery below.

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Main Line Monday: Lovely Stone Classic for $1.6M

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach

Built in the late 1930s, this stately Bryn Mawr home is a rather traditional exemplar of the period, with hardwood floors, French doors leading to flagstone terraces, landscaped grounds, and a wood-burning fireplace. The kitchen has been updated with all the top-of-the-line appliances: SubZero, Thermador, Gaggenau and Bosch. And the master bath looks like it’s been carved from one gigantic piece of Cararra marble.

The owners bought the property in 1998 for a little more than $1.2 million and are now asking $1,675,000, a drop from an initial ask of more than $1.8. Should you go to the open house on Oct. 12, please let me know if the Chagall-influenced Flyers mural is still there. I kind of love it.

Gallery below.

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Venice Island Is Reborn!

venice island

The performing arts center, when it was still under construction in June. Photo: Liz Spikol

Tomorrow Mayor Nutter will once again stand at a podium in Philadelphia and talk about the city’s green-friendly, river-related growth as he unveils the new performing arts and recreation center on long forgotten Venice Island, the Guam of Philadelphia. The spit of land in the Schuylkill across from the Manayunk Towpath has served official functions throughout the years, and had a crumbly rec center, but it hasn’t had much of a sense of identity or connection to the mainland. Those who used the rec center didn’t seem to communicate much with the outside world about the island, leaving many in the dark.

That’s all set to change after the hitherto-unknown-to-be-creative folks at the Philadelphia Water Department and Parks and Rec came together for a Kumbaya-style “if they build it, they will come” project spurred by necessity but inspired by, like, Portland.

Here’s how it happened:

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