First Time Find: Suburban Comfort, City Address in Roxborough for $275K

7371 Valley Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19128 | TREND images via Long & Foster Real Estate

7371 Valley Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19128 | TREND images via Long & Foster Real Estate

Are you one of those people who don’t want to leave the city but want a home with all the comfort of a suburban pad?

We’ve found a place for you in upper Roxborough, close to both the Ridge and the Wissahickon Valley.

This is one of those homes you can’t judge by its cover, for its unassuming exterior covers a beautifully renovated, bright and airy traditionally-styled modern home. Read more »

Main Line Monday: Over-the-Top Opulence in Haverford

327 Grays Ln., Haverford, Pa. 19041 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

327 Grays Ln., Haverford, Pa. 19041 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

There are lots of fabulous mansions on the Main Line. We’ve featured several of them in this space. But we’ve run across very few of them that combine elegant details, loads of space for you and your stuff, and extraordinary features in the way this relatively modest (for its category) 1921 brick Colonial does.

But we shouldn’t have been so surprised to find all of this in this home. After all, it has a name: “Maxwellton.”

Sitting on an impeccably manicured 1.57-acre hillside lot in Haverford’s bosky northern reaches, this sumptuous mansion will astound you with its many fine features and details, the work of numerous architects and landscape designers who have upgraded this home over the last several years. Read more »

Philly Real Estate Forecast 2017: No Irrational Exuberance Here, Not Yet

The King of Prussia Town Center is an example of one of this year's "Emerging Trends in Real Estate" — the transformation of suburban shopping and office centers into true 18-hour, live/work/play environments. | Photo: JBG Companies

The King of Prussia Town Center is an example of one of this year’s “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” — the transformation of suburban shopping and office centers into true 18-hour, live/work/play environments. | Photo: JBG Companies

Let’s get this out of the way first: Eric Goldstein is simply ahead of the curve.

The head of the King of Prussia District has seen the future and is getting out in front of one of next year’s “Emerging Trends in Real Estate.”

The tour tied to the release of the annual Urban Land Institute/PwC real estate market forecast stopped in Philadelphia at the Union League on Friday, and one of the trends shaping development that the presenters and panelists at ULI Philadelphia’s “Real Estate Forecast 2017” conference discussed was suburban office parks transforming themselves to accommodate the “18-hour” lifestyles their workers have increasingly adopted.

“The innovation economy is shifting,” said Jennifer Vey, fellow and co-director of the Bass Institute on Innovation and Placemaking at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, during the panel discussion that followed the presentation on the report. “It’s no longer about driving into the office in the office park and keeping your secrets secret. The innovation economy is far more collaborative, both within and across sectors, between established firms and startups, and between firms and anchor institutions.” Read more »

Homes Got More Affordable in Philly Last Quarter

Here's how much you need to make a year to afford the median-priced home in the nation's 27 largest metros, according to HSH.com. The salary required in Philly is just above the nationwide number.

Here’s how much you need to make a year to afford the median-priced home in the nation’s 27 largest metros, according to HSH.com. The salary required in Philly is just above the nationwide number.

House prices in the Philadelphia market continued to climb in the third quarter of 2016, which is good news for homeowners wishing to sell. But there was good news for buyers too, according to mortgage site HSH.com: a 1.16-basis-point drop in mortgage rates made home loans much cheaper, offsetting the price rise.

As a result, according to HSH.com’s latest survey of incomes needed to buy a home in the nation’s 27 largest metropolitan areas, the salary required to buy a median-priced home in Philadelphia fell from its second-quarter level by a whopping $314, to $53,108. (All figures rounded to the nearest dollar.) Read more »

ThinkFest Recap: 4 Takeaways From Eric Goldstein on the Revenge of the Suburbs

 

Goldstein with a slide showing Census city-suburb migration data for 25- to 29-year-olds at ThinkFest.

Goldstein with a slide showing Census city-suburb migration data for 25- to 29-year-olds at ThinkFest.

When it comes to reports of millennials abandoning suburbs for cities, don’t believe the hype, King of Prussia District (KOP-BID) executive director Eric Goldstein said at his ThinkFest 2016 talk on “King of Prussia and the Revenge of the Suburbs” on Tuesday.

The trends actually point in the opposite direction, said the head of the district responsible for rethinking the Philadelphia region’s preeminent edge city, because suburbs offer five clear advantages over cities, both here and in many other large metropolitan areas. However, that doesn’t mean that tomorrow’s suburbs will look the same as today’s, for the millennials do want the kind of environments cities have excelled at providing for centuries. Blending urban vitality and suburban convenience is what Goldstein’s group aims to do for King of Prussia, which he also sees not as a competitor to the city, but rather as a potential partner for regional progress. That, however, will take some attitude adjustment all around, he admits. His talk raised four main points:

  1. The suburbs remain in great shape for five big reasons. Those are: public safety, schools, taxes, jobs, and free parking. Statistics back up the public perception that cities are more dangerous places to live than suburbs. Suburban schools are better not because more money is spent on them, but because engaged parents demand it be spent on the best education possible. Though the gap is closing, taxes in the suburbs are lower than those in the city — and that in turn has led to a reversal of the city-suburb jobs balance to the point where more than three-fourths of this region’s jobs lie outside the city limits. And since most of us still drive, stashing the car without paying an arm and a leg for it once we reach our destination still matters.
  2. But suburbia as we have come to know it doesn’t have the same appeal to millennials that it did to earlier generations. The younger set (and a good chunk of their baby-boomer parents and grandparents too) are looking for places that offer stimulating environments and a mix of activities — “the city without the city,” as Goldstein characterized it.
  3. Forward-thinking edge cities are retooling themselves to meet this demand. That’s where Goldstein’s organization comes in. The KOP-BID is pouring at least $1 million into reshaping the road that serves its office park into a bike- and pedestrian-friendly “linear park” that will also serve new residences being built in the district. It’s also championing the proposed SEPTA Norristown High-Speed Line spur to King of Prussia: “How King of Prussia grew without rail transportation amazes me,” he said. “If we don’t get rail transit in five to seven years, in 10 to 20 years, King of Prussia won’t be as nice.”
  4. Instead of city-vs.-suburb thinking, we need to think regionally, city and suburb. Maybe instead of “revenge,” what’s happening is “convergence,” and that’s a process that would be greatly aided by city and suburbs acting together to identify and fund development and infrastructure projects collectively. Goldstein said that once he left his job in the city to take the helm at the KOP-BID, he was surprised to learn how much the suburbs still saw themselves as separate and apart from the city. This contributes to the wasteful practice of luring corporate headquarters from one location in the region to another. “Instead of shuffling the deck chairs around, we need to bring companies in from the outside,” he said. “And we need to come up with a regional plan to fund infrastructure, city and suburbs together. Instead of ‘rail to King of Prussia or rail to the Navy Yard,’ it should be ‘rail to King of Prussia and rail to the Navy Yard.'” He pointed to the successful Atlanta-area initiative to implement a regional sales tax that will fund $2.8 billion in transit and transportation projects around the sprawling Georgia metropolis as an example of what could be done here.

Thos. Moser Joins the Back-to-the-City Movement

Thos. Moser's new Rittenhouse Row showroom, next door to the Apple Store on Walnut Street. | Photos: Scott Spitzer Photography/Thos. Moser unless otherwise noted

Thos. Moser’s new Rittenhouse Row showroom, next door to the Apple Store on Walnut Street. | Photos: Scott Spitzer Photography/Thos. Moser unless otherwise noted

Thos. Moser has been making handcrafted furniture in Maine since 1972 and selling it in Philadelphia since the early 1980s. The company’s affinity for Pennsylvania runs strong and deep, and on Thursday, Nov. 10, Moser returned to Center City, where it opened its first showroom outside Maine.

The new showroom is at 1605 Walnut Street, right next door to the Apple Store. It’s the latest iteration in a four-decade-long love affair with Pennsylvania, said company founder Tom Moser.

Moser started his woodworking business in a Grange hall in New Gloucester, Maine, in 1972. Moser sought to produce high-quality products — furniture, in Moser’s case — that were rooted in a tradition of craftsmanship and made to last. Thos. Moser’s original chairs and other furniture took their inspiration from 19th-century designs, most notably the Shaker and Pennsylvania Dutch traditions, whose emphasis on simplicity embodied the aesthetic Moser wished to display in his furniture. Such furniture, he said, fit in well with the Pennsylvania aesthetic: the stone farmhouses of the Brandywine Valley, the unpretentious brick row homes of Philadelphia. Read more »

Main Line Monday: A Midcentury Modern Masterpiece in Strafford

356 Pugh Rd., Strafford, Pa. 19087 | Photos: Jon Biddle for HomeJab via Keller Williams Luxury Homes International

356 Pugh Rd., Strafford, Pa. 19087 | Photos: Jon Biddle for HomeJab via Keller Williams Luxury Homes International

You’ve seen photos of homes like these in places like Southern California and the Oakland hills.

If you’re the sort of person who hyperventilates at these photos, there’s good news: you now have a chance to live in one without having to move across the country.

Several noted Philadelphia architects also designed homes in the contemporary style we now label as “midcentury modern.” One of the best was Robert McElroy, who produced this beautiful, low-slung home on a one-acre wooded sloping lot on Strafford’s northern fringe. We can also give credit to the architect who owns this home now, for he gave it a top-to-bottom rebuild that updated all of its features and systems while respecting its heritage and style. Read more »

U-City Named Hottest Tech Submarket in Nation

One Drexel Plaza and Drexel Square

Strong demand and rising rents should make it easy for projects in the University City development pipeline, like the Schuylkill Yards joint venture between Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust, to find tech-sector tenants to fill them, if the latest CBRE “Tech-Thirty” report is any guide. | Image: SHoP Architects and West8

Those shiny new buildings rising in University City are not only turning it into Philadelphia’s second downtown — they’re making it the nation’s hottest submarket for high-tech office space, according to CBRE’s annual “Tech-Thirty” survey.

The survey, which examines job growth and technology office space rent growth in the nation’s 30 largest technology employment centers, put the area surrounding Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania at the top of the list for office rent growth — the average rent of $41.40 per square foot is up 37.8 percent over the two-year period from the second quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2016 — and in growth of net absorption (the amount of space on the market that gets occupied), it ranked second only to Tempe, outside Phoenix, with a growth rate of 23.3 percent over that same period. Read more »

Trinity Tuesday: Lots of Sun for Not Much Green in Queen Village

708 S. Leithgow St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND images via Plumer & Associates

708 S. Leithgow St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND images via Plumer & Associates

What distinguishes the trinity, that most peculiarly Philadelphian house type, from all the others is its three-stacked-rooms arrangement (four, if the home has a basement) with a tight spiral staircase taking up a chunk of the space in each room.

Somewhere along the way, an owner of this trinity had a bright idea: Since there’s this big courtyard in the back, I’ll put the spiral staircase in its own extension!

Thus this classic trinity has two unusual features: A larger back yard and doors separating the staircase from some of the rooms. It also gets more sunlight than many trinities do thanks to that large back yard, which means the windows on both east and west sides get plenty of exposure to the sun. So does the staircase, as it’s topped by a skylight. And it even has a roof deck for all-day sunshine. Read more »

A Piece of Philly’s Polish History Is Up for Lease in Port Richmond

The bar inside the former Lucyan Chwalkowski Post No. 12 of the Polish Army Veterans Association. | Photos: Courtesy Bob Metry

The bar inside the former Lucyan Chwalkowski Post No. 12 of the Polish Army Veterans Association. | Photos: Courtesy Bob Metry

In case you haven’t noticed, Port Richmond stands on the verge of becoming the next Fishtown and East Kensington put together. Already, rejeuvenation has taken hold in the area where the three neighborhoods overlap — a territory some call “Port Fishington” —  but the pace of development and redevelopment is also picking up closer to the neighborhood’s heart.

In that heart lies the historic institutions of Philadelphia’s Polish-American community. Local developer Bob Metry, who has a fondness for taking pieces of history and turning them into interesting commercial spaces for lease, has done just that with a former veterans’ hall in Port Richmond.

The building in question, at 3178 Richmond St., was built in 1945 to house the Lucyan Chwalkowski Post No. 12 of the Polish Army Veterans Association in America (PAVA). Chwalkowski, the son of Polish emigres who arrived in New York in 1906, was a member of the first class of Polish officers trained in Canada to fight in Europe for Poland in World War I. Read more »

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