Mega Modern, Practically Bauhaus in Upper Makefield

TREND photo provided by Coldwell Banker.

TREND photo provided by Coldwell Banker.

You could be forgiven for assuming this stark white manse – situated on 11 acres – was anything but a private home in Upper Makefield. A very serious exterior could make it an office or a lab or a fancy showroom. But upon closer inspection, the doors are welcoming and the showroom-style windows are an asset to a home without any real neighbors to speak of.

Inside, the five-bedroom home totals more than 5,600 square feet in a very open plan. The great room boasts ceilings soaring 32 feet high as well as plenty of windows. The home, built in 1984 and renovated in 2002, shows upgrades in the kitchen including a commercial-grade Randall refrigerator. A free-form spiral staircase created in a double-helix shape leads to the second floor, where the master suite boasts an enormous walk-in closet. Other bedrooms upstairs offer a little bit more color. The basement features an entertainment area and a separate playroom and gym.

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House of the Week: Pennsylvania’s First LEED Platinum Rehab

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Photo by Laura Kicey.


Owners of this Fairmount home spent three years working with Canno Architecture and Design, Think Green Landscape Architecture, Walnut Tree Construction and the Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia to renovate their property with sustainability in mind. The result: In 2011 it became the first rehabbed home in Pennsylvania to earn LEED Platinum certification. Owners recently put the home on the market for $1.295 million.

From the street the property looks like any other Fairmount rowhouse. Inside the 2,000-square foot home? A litany of environmentally sound and technologically savvy upgrades. New owners will be able to automate lighting, heating, cooling, sound and security via a Smarthome system that can be accessed remotely by phone or computer. The system allows for personalized settings and programmed operations to conserve heat and energy. A grey water reclamation system conserves more than 5,000 gallons of water a year by using rainwater and water from showers and sinks (several in the home’s two full bathrooms and one powder room) to flush toilets and water the green roofs. The home is also equipped with solar panels which provide almost half of the home’s electricity.

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Splendiferous Interiors: Historic Homes in the Great Northwest

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Photo by Laura Kicey.

We all already know that Chestnut Hill, Mt. Airy and Germantown are literally chockablock full of beautiful homes. But we are usually left to imagine the exact details of the fireplaces and mantles and hardwood flooring. Until they are opened to the public for a historic homes tour, which they were just a few weeks ago by Historic Germantown.

Photographer Laura Kicey toured five homes, which offer an embarrassment of interior riches. First in the gallery below is a Queen Anne-style home listed on the National Register of Historic Places and originally inhabited by a Civil War veteran who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. The kitchen is an absolute showstopper. Home two in Chestnut Hill is a Colonial Revival built in 1885. Past owners include a litany of famous Philadelphia names, which – glorious though they may be – all pale in comparison to the heavenly solarium.
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Morning Headlines: Saffron: Philly’s Boardwalk Beats NYC’s High Line

Photo via Schuylkill Banks on Facebook.

Photo via Schuylkill Banks on Facebook.

Phila.’s new gem: A stroll on the Schuylkill [Inquirer]

Inga Saffron is downright ebullient today. Her feelings about the newly completed and opened Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk are unmistakable:

As wonderful as the High Line is, it merely allows people to wend their way through Manhattan a few stories above its bustling streets. When the latest segment of the Schuylkill Banks trail opens to the public Thursday, you’ll be able to walk on water, under the glittering gaze of the Center City skyline.

Take that, New York.

Saffron is convinced that the Boardwalk trumps the High Line mostly for its transformative powers. She alternately says the distanced perspective can make Center City feel like “outer space” at night and that at other times, “strange optical illusions appear.” Why, she asks, does it look like there’s a Penn building on Spruce Street when we all know it’s on Walnut?

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$1.75M Princeton Estate With Luxe Amenities

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Photo by Laura Kicey.

We have already seen Sally Weisman’s new home in New Hope (to be honest, we are still dreaming of that perfect patio). At the time, it was hard to imagine why she would have been reluctant to move there. Now we see the home she’s leaving in Princeton, and it’s a lot easier to understand. The five-bedroom estate has recently been listed at $1.75 million, and it is just as jaw-dropping as the New Hope property.

The home is stretched over nearly 6,000 square feet of living space. The main level includes a formal foyer and center hall, a sun room, an office, the kitchen, a butler’s pantry, a breakfast room, and formal living and dining rooms. The kitchen namechecks all the luxury appliance brands. A Viking six-burner stove is not far from the SubZero refrigerator, and it’s all connected with granite. Upstairs the master suite has a sitting room all its own and an en-suite spa-like bath with a double walk-in closet. Two additional bedrooms are each en-suite and the remaining two bedrooms share a bath. The laundry room rounds up the upstairs living space. The finished lower level includes a game room, exercise room, additional laundry facilities, a kitchenette, storage and a serious wine cellar. The cellar is fully conditioned and has room for more than 1,000 bottles.

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Saffron’s Take on the Fairmount Bike Lane Wars

Photo of N. 22nd Street via Google Maps.

Photo of N. 22nd Street via Google Maps.

If there’s one thing in town guaranteed to produce loud opinions and complaints, it’s bike lanes. If there are two things, it’s bike lanes and City Council. Which makes the latest bike lane showdown in Fairmount the perfect shouty storm. Fortunately, Inga Saffron is here to lay out the facts in the Inquirer.

North 22nd Street was repaved in August. Since then, Saffron says, it has been without traffic markings of any kind. When the Streets Department proposed including a bike lane when it finally painted the lines, at-large Councilman Bill Greenlee (of Fairmount) got involved. His concern? That adding a bike lane will cause traffic backups by limiting cars to just one lane. Now everything is on pause.

Saffron says this is an important development because Greenlee is the first councilperson to exert his relatively new right to control segments of the city’s growing web of bike lanes. Naturally, the legislation giving Council said right was drafted by Greenlee himself. The Streets Department is waiting for consensus before moving forward.

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Morning Headlines: 18th-Century Philadelphia Goes to China

"Cliveden Mansion, Philadelphia, HABS PA-1184-88" by Jack E. Boucher - Historic American Buildings Survey; Library of Congress HABS PA,51-GERM,64-88. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cliveden_Mansion,_Philadelphia,_HABS_PA-1184-88.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Cliveden_Mansion,_Philadelphia,_HABS_PA-1184-88.jpg

Cliveden, via Wikimedia Commons.

The village is called Southern 1910, will look exactly like Society Hill and will be in Dalian, a coastal city in northeastern China. The Inquirer’s Erin Arvedlund has the details on how Chadds Ford’s John Milner Architects won the business and impressed Chinese developers.

Dalian Common Property Development retained John Milner Architects to design and plan the gated community, where 200 Georgian-style brick homes will sell for between $1 million and $4 million. Of those, 65 have already been sold, ranging from 3,500 to a whopping 7,500 square feet.

In order to win the business in the first place, Milner told Arvedlund that he arranged a two-week long series of bus tours for the Chinese developers. They visited Fairmount Park, Cliveden and Mount Pleasant, among other 18th century city sites.

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Morning Headlines: SRC to Sell 11 Schools for $2 Million Net

"Germantown HS Philly" by Smallbones - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Germantown HS Philly by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons.

The School Reform Commission approving the sale of 11 Philadelphia schools is big news this morning, punctuated with some pretty big numbers. The Daily News’s Solomon Leach has details on how the sales will break down.

The two biggest parcels are each going for $6.8 million. Germantown High, Carroll High, Fulton Elementary, Walter Smith Elementary and Abigail Vare Elementary are all going to the Concordia Group. Two of the elementary schools – Vare and Smith – are slated to become residential buildings.

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New Hope’s $1.5 Million Painted Lady

It’s rare to find a painted lady so far afield from the usual local spots like Cape May and Lansdowne. Rarer still to find one sitting solitarily on such an enormous plot of land. And this one doesn’t disappoint: the interior is exactly as festooned as the exterior.

The home is situated on five acres of land and is accessed via a long, tree-lined drive. The curb appeal (in this case the tree-lined drive appeal) is instantly apparent to fans of Victorian architecture. Details are reproductions but they include lots of gingerbread embellishments, wrap-around porches, turrets and dormers. Inside, there are leaded glass transoms and millwork galore. For real Victorian fans, there is also a series of ornate wallpaper selections and plenty of brocade. Upstairs rooms are somewhat less bed-and-breakfasty. Bedrooms are large and feature views of the pristine landscaping.

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Morning Headlines: Redevelopment Plans for the Royal Theater

Royal-Theater-mural

It took about a year, but developer Carl Dranoff and JDavis Architects unveiled plans for the vacant Royal Theater at a South of South Neighborhood Association meeting last week. PlanPhilly has the details this morning.

Kenny Gamble’s Universal Companies purchased the historic building in 2000 but it has been mightily neglected since then. Dranoff partnered with Universal last year when the group announced plans for a mixed-use building to replace the theater. Details on the proposed building were fuzzy until last week’s meeting. Thanks to PlanPhilly, we now know the proposal includes the following provisions.

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