Jaw-Dropper of the Week: Enormous Loft at 1234 Hamilton

TREND photo courtesy Distinctive Homes Realty.

TREND photo courtesy Distinctive Homes Realty.

In general, you can expect a loft to offer a lot of open space and plenty of oversized windows. But this 5,100 square-foot unit at 1234 Hamilton was once two separate homes, meaning it’s huge — even by loft standards. There are southern and western views from multiple walls of windows. There are two giant bedrooms. And there are three adjoining parking spaces.

The unit’s entrance is served by a private freight elevator that can accommodate up to 8,000 pounds. As the listing points out, that means you could drive a motorcycle directly into your home. The main floor is entirely open and features radiant heating. Windows provide views of the Reading Viaduct and Center City. In addition to the living area, the main floor features a workshop, a media room, a den and a full bathroom.

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Habitat: Colonial-Era Farmhouse in Chester Heights

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Erin Cochran said it was her husband who first fell in love with their three-bedroom Delco farmhouse. “I can’t say that I did at first,” she said. “He had to talk me into it.”

In 1996, the farmhouse was still broken into three very distinct periods of its evolution. There was the Colonial-era (they are told) foundation of the home, a Victorian-era front porch they believe was built after the Civil War, and a family room that had been added on in 1989. Cochran said the three parts of the home felt disjointed. The main entrance was also through the addition. “You didn’t know where you were when you got into the house,” she said.

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Dreamy Bathroom, Wine Cellar and Nanny Suite in Rittenhouse Square

TREND photo courtesy Coldwell Banker.

TREND photo courtesy Coldwell Banker.

On the Rittenhouse Square Luxury Homes bingo card, “Delancey Street” would be the center square. This home would satisfy the rest of the bingo squares pretty quickly. Multiple fireplaces? Check. Cavernous wine cellar? Check. Ample parking included? Of course. Nanny suite? Obviously. Master bath that inspires hot green envy? Indeed.

This four-bedroom townhouse just off the intersection of 18th and Delancey clocks in with more than 4,000 square feet of living space. Not counting the parking for two out back. The interior design elements evoke exactly the luxury you expect at such a posh address. Lots of built-ins, custom millwork, deep baseboards and grand fireplaces. The finishes, too, are high-end. The kitchen features not one but two Bosch dishwashers, a six-burner Thermador stove and a Subzero refrigerator.
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Chesco’s “Le Petit Mont” Has Great Views for a Little Mountain

TREND photo courtesy Long and Foster.

TREND photo courtesy Long and Foster.

“Le Petit Mont” translates directly to “the little mountain.” It’s a quaint name for a ten-plus-acre property that includes vista views of practically all of Chester County and comes with a farmhouse, two separate garages, a two-stall barn, a run-out shed and extensive pastures and walking trails for your horses.

The farmhouse has been finished in the traditional style but includes modern upgrades. The first floor includes inside access to the first garage, which accommodates three cars. The kitchen is adjacent to a breakfast room and boasts three walls of inlaid cherry cabinetry and the usual granite/stainless steel luxury combo. It also features a handsome peninsula and several pantries. The living room and family room both include large fireplaces. The upstairs master has its own balcony and a custom, en-suite spa with a window seat. Three other bedrooms on the floor share the second full bath. A bonus room could be turned into a fifth bedroom or an office, according to the listing. The third floor is also ripe for a project. The listing suggests turning the open space to a game or media room. The basement is also finished and could easily home another full bath.
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Morning Headlines: Apartment Market Cooling in Center City

Photo of Southstar Lofts by Laura Kicey.

Photo of Southstar Lofts by Laura Kicey.

On the heels of yesterday’s news about home ownership taking a nosedive comes a report from Delta Associates via the Philadelphia Business Journal outlining an uptick in apartment vacancies in Center City.

According to Natalie Kostelni, the report found a vacancy increase in South Jersey, the suburbs and Center City between mid-year 2013 and now. That puts vacancies in Center City at 5 percent, South Jersey at 4.5 percent and the suburbs (a coy term for a variety of areas, one must add) at 5.7 percent.

Rents, Delta found, are also taking a hit in Center City, falling 1.6 percent to $2,141. In the burbs, it’s a different story, where rates have actually gone up to an average of $1,447 a month.

All of this begs some questions about the new residential construction seemingly everywhere downtown.

With about 5,025 units under construction or on the drawing board, “Philadelphia’s supply-demand relationship indicates that vacancy will continue to edge up slightly and rent growth is likely to stay negative over the next 24 months.”

Yikes. But not to worry, Delta says. All will be well. Somehow … vaguely.

In spite of some of this initial concern about the number of units that will eventually hit the market in Philadelphia, Delta is confident that demographic trends toward renting and urban living will eventually support what ultimately gets built.

More news this way …
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A Private Garden Oasis in Rittenhouse Square

TREND photo courtesy BHHS Fox & Roach.

TREND photo courtesy BHHS Fox & Roach.

In a neighborhood where the grandest homes are either cloistered in high rises along the park or built directly on some of the densest streets, this carriage house stands out. Set back from its block between Pine and Lombard, the home’s entrance is behind a wrought iron gate guarding a picture-perfect garden. The home is small by Rittenhouse Square standards and the interior hews heavily toward stripes, but we can’t stop looking at the listing photos and imagining having our morning coffee in that garden.

The two-bedroom home occupies a double lot and makes good use of all 1,190 square feet. Wainscoting nearly throughout gives way to window seats and the kitchen is on the small side, but cabinets abound. The home includes plenty of period details like hardwood flooring and detailed molding as well as a lovely fireplace. The en-suite master includes a Juliet balcony overlooking the garden.
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Morning Headlines: After Collapse, L&I Warns Homeowners to Check Foundations

Photo prior to collapse courtesy Google Streetview.

Photo prior to collapse courtesy Google Streetview.

The Inquirer has details on what caused Monday’s Cobbs Creek rowhouse collapse. L&I told Jason Grant that the homes at 6015 and 6017 Spruce collapsed because the foundation beneath their shared party wall had been deteriorating over decades.

The culprit, according to L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, was a foundation that had been made of rubble stone and mortar. Modern construction relies on foundations made of continuous slabs of concrete, but older construction commonly used the same mixture found on Spruce Street.

An ominous warning about how easily deteriorated foundations can lead to structural problems:

Generally, Williams said, even one loose or missing stone in a rubble wall – which can get dislodged as mortar surrounding it gradually deteriorates to dust – may lead to a collapse.

If reading that gave you heart palpitations, Williams has a suggestion:

Williams noted Tuesday that many homes in the Northeastern United States were built with rubble stone and mortar foundations. He and L&I Emergency Services Director Scott Mulderig said anyone with turn-of-the-century or early-1900s homes should check basements at least yearly for loose or missing rubble stone; a dusty or sandlike buildup of deteriorated mortar; or water that could signal a compromised foundation or wall.

Most importantly, no one was hurt in Monday’s collapse. Grant talked to one of the homeowners who was at work when she got the news and raced home to find her two Scottish deerhounds – both safe.

A self-described pragmatist, she said, “Good things happen, bad things happen – you just hope the good ones outweigh the bad ones, but sometimes they don’t.”

More news this way …
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Historic Townhouse in Old City Has a Secret

TREND photo courtesy Maxwell Realty.

TREND photo courtesy Maxwell Realty.

From the outside, this Old City home looks like any other brick townhouse on tiny Cuthbert Street. Which is to say, darling and vaguely historic. What is not immediately discernible from the cobblestones outside is that this home was honored twice in 2006: once with the AIA Philadelphia Honor Award and once with the AIA Pennsylvania Citation of Merit Winning for a Renovated Home. From the inside, the meticulous rehab becomes apparent.

The two-bedroom house was renovated with a contemporary style which – frankly – feels refreshing on a tiny and storied Old City street. Floors are made from Brazilian walnut and the walls have been replastered. Lines are sleek and clean, and details like pocket doors and transoms have been transformed into chic, modern elements that now hardly evoke the home’s 1850s construction date. The gourmet kitchen features a hidden table that springs out from under a double-sided fireplace.

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Contemporary Treehouse Vibe in Wayne

TREND photo courtesy BHHS Fox & Roach.

TREND photo courtesy BHHS Fox & Roach.

We suspect a very specific kind of Star Wars fan might be into the exterior on this contemporary Wayne home. Something about the heavily wooded land and the monochrome facade evokes an all-terrain walker.

Inside, the home provides treetop views for days with a relatively open plan. The home features an upgraded kitchen and a wet-bar-adjacent dining room. There are five bedrooms and two full baths with a powder room. The master suite includes dual closets and an en-suite bath.

The most interesting feature? The deck out back which has been built around a mature tree. Definitely adds to the treehouse vibe.

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Two Elfreth’s Alley Options to Celebrate Independence Day

TREND photo courtesy Keller Williams.

TREND photo courtesy Keller Williams.

Property is available relatively rarely on America’s oldest continually inhabited residential street. Elfreth’s Alley hosts only 32 homes, and two of them being on the market simultaneously is the real estate equivalent of a blue moon.

First up: 133-35 Elfreth’s Alley. A double lot means 45 glorious feet of width to this three-bedroom home. It also means two decks, a side garden and a tremendous master suite. A finished basement includes a spa-like bathroom. Plenty of period details, including exposed stonework and brick. Our favorite room is the basement, with its romantic canopied ceiling, dreamy lighting and old fireplace.

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