Another Upgrade In the Works for The Wissahickon

The Wissahickon | Public domain photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons

The Wissahickon | Public domain photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons

Another sign of the slow-motion transformation of the rental property market in Germantown is the just-concluded sale of The Wissahickon, a landmark apartment building at 5215 Schuyler Street.

Commercial real estate brokerage Marcus & Millchap announced the successful completion of the sale Tuesday (March 14th). The buyer, a real estate investor active in the neighborhood, plans to renovate the building in order to make it more attractive to young professionals, in particular students at the nearby Drexel University College of Medicine. Read more »

New Senior Tower Owner to Residents: “Get Out (More)!”

The John Fox Tower at 22nd and Market streets | Photo courtesy Vitus Group

The John Fox Tower at 22nd and Market streets | Photo courtesy Vitus Group

The building that opened 50 years ago as the Sidney Hillman Apartments at 22nd and Ludlow streets has a new name, a new owner and a new mission: To maximize the happiness of its older residents.

The new name is the John Fox Tower, a name chosen to reduce confusion with other monuments to legendary garment workers’ union leader Sidney Hillman’s legacy while continuing to recognize the role its builder, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, played in creating this facility. The new owner of the building is the Vitus Group, a developer of affordable “communities of opportunity” in 21 states from coast to coast. And one of the ways Vitus aims to fulfill its mission is by getting the complex’s residents out more often. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: The Parish House

Made by hand, not beforehand: A Red Oak construction crew member works on the hinge of a custom door made from wood salvaged from the demolition of the parish house's interior. The door will lead from this home's finished basement rec room to the mechanical room. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Craft-brewed building: A Red Oak construction crew member works on the hinge of a custom door made from wood salvaged from the demolition of the parish house’s interior. The door will lead from this home’s finished basement rec room to the mechanical room. | Photos: Sandy Smith

“God is in the details.” —Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

God, then, continues to make his presence felt throughout the building that began life in 1912 as the parish house for the Episcopal Church of Emmanuel and the Good Shepherd in East Kensington, for Red Oak Development, which is converting the building into five three-story townhouses with finished basements, is loading these new homes with fine architectural details — most of them salvaged from the building itself. Read more »

Panel To Tackle Past, Present and Future in Chestnut Hill

Green space and a village-like vibe together make Chestnut Hill distinctive among Philly neighborhoods. A panel discussion on April 21 will examine how it can maintain its distinctive character while accommodating growth and change. | Photo: Herb Engelberg/The Sivel Group

Green space and a village-like vibe together make Chestnut Hill distinctive among Philly neighborhoods. A panel discussion on April 21 will examine how it can maintain its distinctive character while accommodating growth and change. | Photo: Herb Engelberg/The Sivel Group

Back in the 1960s, around the time each of them designed iconic residences in the neighborhood, architects Louis Kahn, Romaldo Giurgola and Robert Venturi discussed how Chestnut Hill could strike a balance between preserving its essential nature and accommodating new development in a forum organized by the Chestnut Hill Historical Society.

Now the question has renewed currency thanks to the housing boom that’s washed across the city and boosted Chestnut Hill’s popularity in its wake. So the Historical Society — now called the Chestnut Hill Conservancy — is assembling another panel of luminaries to take a stab at resolving the tension for our time and the years to come. Read more »

Successor Sought for Applebee’s 15th Street

Applebee's on 15th Street looks like it may follow the restaurant it replaced, Bookbinders Sea Food House, into the ranks of eateries past. | Image from CBRE marketing brochure

Applebee’s on 15th Street looks like it may follow the restaurant it replaced, Bookbinders Sea Food House, into the ranks of eateries past. | Image from CBRE marketing brochure

Spotted on the street in Center City this morning: a brochure (PDF) announcing that the space at 15th and Chancellor streets that’s currently home to an Applebee’s restaurant is available for lease.

The brochure from CBRE Fameco touts the restaurant’s prime Rittenhouse Row location, pointing out the 10 hotels within a three-block radius (not to mention another one just beyond that circle and at least two more on the way) and the attractive demographics of Center City. Read more »

Fishtown Church Will Live On As Live/Work Space

The Church of the Living Word on Susquehanna Avenue in Fishtown will be born again as a live/work space. | Google Street View image

The Church of the Living Word on Susquehanna Avenue in Fishtown will be born again as a live/work space. | Google Street View image

Preservation activist Oscar Beisert’s petition to add the Church of the Living Word in Fishtown, which began life as the Fifth Reformed Dutch Church, to the city’s historical register may have failed last fall, but he will have another chance to add it thanks to a savvy tattoo artist.

Plan Philly reports that the Fishtown Neighbors Association enthusiastically backed True Hand owner Mike Ski’s requests for variances he will need to turn the church into a combined residence and studio at its monthly meeting last Tuesday night. Ski is purchasing the home from the Church of the Living Word and needs a variance because its zoning forbids mixed uses. He also needs a special exception in order to perform “body art service” in the building.

Ski got the backing by assuaging the neighbors’ two biggest fears: that the property would become a multifamily residence and that it would make on-street parking more difficult. Read more »

Developers Duel for Right to Build on Chinatown Block

Site plans for the two proposals: Pennrose's on the left, Parkway's on the right. | Renderings: WRT (left) / Cecil Baker & Partners (right) via Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Site plans for the two proposals: Pennrose’s on the left, Parkway’s on the right. | Renderings: WRT (left) / Cecil Baker & Partners (right) via Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Two of Philly’s local development heavyweights, Pennrose Properties and Parkway Corporation, are duking it out for the right to develop a parcel of land the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority owns on Chinatown’s eastern edge.

This past Monday evening, the developers made their cases for their projects at an informational meeting in Chinatown.

The site in question takes up three-quarters of the block bounded by 8th, 9th, Race and Vine streets. Ridge Avenue once split this block in two diagonally, and the Chinatown station on the Broad-Ridge Spur lies beneath it as a result. This, along with the Commuter Tunnel running north-south under the station, placed some constraints on what the developers could build on the site.

The two projects are similar in several respects, but there are some key differences. Read more »

Another Townhouse Project “Shovel Ready” on the Waterfront

The shovel-ready townhouse development being offered next to Penn Treaty Park. | Renderings and sketches: Abitare Design Studio via Shovel Ready Projects

The shovel-ready townhouse development being offered next to Penn Treaty Park. | Renderings and sketches: Abitare Design Studio via Shovel Ready Projects

Shovel Ready Projects is living up to its name once again with another turnkey project it’s offering on the Delaware waterfront.

This one’s a 19-unit townhouse development from Abitare Design Studio, located on a narrow sliver of land just south of Penn Treaty Park.

The project is aptly named: the homes Abitare designed for “Penn Treaty Views” put their best faces towards the park, with large expanses of windows facing north. All 19 homes have full-floor roof decks with pilot houses near their centers that split the decks into north- and south-facing sides (east- and west-facing in the case of the 19th unit on the east end). Read more »

First-Time Find: A Little Gem in Port Richmond for $146.5K

3212 Aramingo Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19134 | TREND images via The Somers Team

3212 Aramingo Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19134 | TREND images via The Somers Team

Usually, we go combing listings throughout the city and suburbs in search of dynamite homes for sale at modest prices to feature in this weekly space.

But every once in a while, the gods of email smile on us and deposit jewels in our lap.

That was the case with this newly listed two-story rowhome in Port Richmond.

On the outside, it looks every inch the typical smaller Philly row home, the kind that’s perfect for a young couple starting out on a homeownership adventure. These homes usually have fairly traditional layouts with separate living and dining rooms and a kitchen in the back.

Inside, however, this home is one of those 21st-century open-plan beauties that usually sell for much more than this. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: Lokal

A model suite at Lokal. | Photos: Sandy Smith

A model suite at Lokal. | Photos: Sandy Smith

The PHLCVB, of course, wants you to Visit Philadelphia®.

The owners of Lokal, a new boutique hotel opening next month on North 3rd Street in Old City, wants you to see it like a native.

To help you do that, they’ve made themselves scarce and outfitted the suites so that you can settle in like a resident.

The six-unit hotel with a salon on the street floor is in the final stages of construction. Two model suites — a family-friendly two-bedroom and a one-bedroom — have been outfitted by the Jersey Ice Cream Company, the firm co-owners Chad and Courtney Ludeman hired to design the facility. (Yes, it’s an interior design firm. They don’t make ice cream at all.) Read more »

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