This Portrait of Seth Williams Is a Superb Symbol of Philly’s Self-Important Pols

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Roof repairs: $45,000.

Vacation travel from Vegas to Virginia and beyond: $20,800.

Tickets to Phillies and Sixers games: $2,930.

A portrait of District Attorney Seth Williams that serves as a perfect symbol of Philadelphia’s self-important political class: Priceless.

Literally.

Buried in the list of gifts that Williams finally divulged on Monday is this item, tweeted to the world by WHYY’s Bobby Allyn: Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: The Rebirth of Alden Park

Work on replacing the leaded casement windows in the Manor building lobby is under way. All of the windows in the complex will be replaced by its end. |Photos: Sandy Smith

Work on replacing the leaded casement windows in the Manor building lobby is under way. All of the windows in the complex will be replaced by its end. |Photos: Sandy Smith

The three buildings that together comprise the Alden Park apartment complex are without a doubt the most photogenic apartment buildings in the city. Begun in 1926 on the former estate of department store founder Justus C. Strawbridge, they began life as the city’s first cooperative residences, attracting an exclusive community of residents during the Depression.

Sometime between World War II and the 1980s, the original cooperative dissolved and the complex became a trio of rental buildings. But their parklike setting and their picturesque English Tudor Revival architecture, the work of architect Edwin Rorke, has kept the buildings among the most popular apartments in the city. The Manor building, which terminates the view down Chelten Avenue, may well be Germantown’s most iconic apartment building. Read more »

Sharswood Redevelopment Update: Two Steps Forward, One Sideways

Recent developments will fill in some of the squares on the PHA's Sharswood redevelopment map. Filling in the rest will take a while longer. | Map: PHA

Recent developments will fill in some of the squares on the PHA’s Sharswood redevelopment map. Filling in the rest will take a while longer. | Map: PHA

The Philadelphia Housing Authority has some good news on the Sharswood redevelopment front. Then there’s some news that, while not exactly good, can’t be called bad either.

First, the good news items.

PHA announced at the beginning of August progress towards two of the Sharswood/Blumberg Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan’s goals: a new supermarket for the underserved neighborhood and a partnership that will both help current homeowners maintain their properties and add new affordable housing to the neighborhood. Read more »

Toll Brothers: “We Want A Project That’s Appropriate” for Jewelers Row

The three buildings at left in this photo are the ones Toll Brothers has acquired in connection with its plan to build a mixed-use residential-retail structure in the heart of Jewelers Row. | Photo: Oscar Beisert

The three buildings at left in this photo are the ones Toll Brothers has acquired in connection with its plan to build a mixed-use residential-retail structure in the heart of Jewelers Row. | Photo by Oscar Beisert

Toll Brothers City Living, the company that plans to replace a row of commercial structures in the heart of Jewelers Row with a mixed-use residential/commercial project, wants to build a building everyone concerned can support, division Vice President Brian Emmons said in an exclusive interview.

Including the preservationists.

“It’s our intention to meet with the stakeholders to design a project appropriate to the neighborhood,” he said.  Read more »

Farmhouse Friday: A Survivor in New London Township

300 Mill House Dr., Lincoln University, Pa. 19352 | TREND Images via RE/MAX Main Line

300 Mill House Dr., Lincoln University, Pa. 19352 | TREND Images via RE/MAX Main Line

The great irony about most modern suburban subdivisions is that their names often refer to the things that were destroyed in order to produce them: “Rolling Hills Estates” filled with quarter-acre tract houses, “Cloverdale Farms” where not a square foot of cropland remains.

So it is with “Wheatland Farms” in southern Chester County. But at least you can still find a farmhouse in it, namely, this 1899 beauty.

This home retains its country charm inside and out, yet offers all the things buyers want in a totally modern home. Read more »

Shore Bliss

The Avalon home of John and Jana Scarpa is an updated take on the neoclassical wood-shingle style of the early 20th-century Jersey Shore. "I've always loved the Mantoloking-style home," John says. | Photos: Halkin Mason Photography

The Avalon home of John and Jana Scarpa is an updated take on the neoclassical wood-shingle style of the early 20th-century Jersey Shore. “I’ve always loved the Mantoloking-style home,” John says. | Photos: Halkin Mason Photography

John and Jana Scarpa spend much of the year in Palm Beach, but their hearts are at the Jersey Shore: “It’s so relaxing compared to the Palm Beach scene,” Jana says. The couple, both Jersey natives, had a home in Avalon for more than a decade. Three years ago, tired of spending money on maintenance, they decided it was time to replace their 1970s beach house with something that would take full advantage of its dune-side site.

But what would it look like? John and Jana have divergent tastes. He loves the classical elegance of their Florida home and wanted something traditional here, too. Her aesthetic leans towards the modern — clean lines, open informality. So they decided to split the difference: John got the outside, and Jana got the inside. The result is a striking marriage of classic Seven Mile Island architecture and relaxed modern style. Read more »

Bella Vista Ranked “Best Place to Live in Philadelphia”

 

Bella Vista, home to the Italian Market, received the highest grade in Niche.com's first-ever ranking of the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia. | Photo: R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Bella Vista, home to the Italian Market, received the highest grade in Niche.com’s first-ever ranking of the best neighborhoods in Philadelphia. | Photo: R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

Thanks to the “open data” movement, it’s now possible for those outfits that rank the best of everything to turn their gaze to individual city neighborhoods. Niche.com, which produces annual rankings of the best schools and best communities to live in in the country, has now added new rankings of the “Best Places to Live” in American cities.

And in its first ranking of Philadelphia neighborhoods, Bella Vista took top honors. Read more »

You Really Don’t Want to Rent Here, Number-Crunchers Say

An imbalance in the production of new rental housing favoring the high end has put the squeeze on rents at the bottom, a new Zillow study says.

An imbalance in the production of new rental housing favoring the high end has put the squeeze on rents at the bottom, a new Zillow study says.

If the silver lining of the Philadelphia housing market is how affordable its homes for sale are, then the state of its rental housing market is the cloud.

Three recent surveys all ranked the Philadelphia area close to the bottom when it comes to the affordability of rental housing.

The survey where Philadelphia fared best was the one conducted by apartment search site Zumper.com. In its August survey of median rents for one- and two-bedroom apartments nationwide and in the 100 most populous metropolitan areas, Philadelphia ranked as the 16th-most-expensive rental market in the country, with a median monthly one-bedroom apartment rent of $1,330 in July. Read more »

Former Northeast Philly Nabisco Plant Finally Sold for $10.2 Million

The Northeast Philly Nabisco building

Bye-bye, bakery tower; hello, industrial-retail mixed-use development. | Google Street View image

The landmark former Nabisco plant located on Roosevelt Boulevard between Byberry and Woodhaven roads in Northeast Philadelphia has been sold to an undisclosed developer for $10.2 million.

Richard Gorodesky, the senior vice president at Colliers International who represented the buyer, said the 27.5-acre site will be redeveloped with a mix of industrial and retail uses.

Two of the three buildings currently standing on the site will be demolished. The highly visible nine-story tower, which Gorodesky described as “a big piece of equipment used to bake cookies,” and an attached two-story building that was used to produce crackers, will both fall to the wrecking ball. The third building, a 130,000-square-foot, one-story structure used as the plant’s distribution facility, has resumed that role; Gorodesky said that the developer has already leased the building to an apparel manufacturer that is using it as its distribution center. Together, the three buildings contain 600,000 square feet of space. Read more »

Farmhouse Friday: American Gothic in Glenside

677 Brooke Rd., Glenside, Pa. 19038 | TREND Images via Dan Helwig, Inc.

677 Brooke Rd., Glenside, Pa. 19038 | TREND Images via Dan Helwig, Inc.

In our search for a farmhouse to feature this week, we stumbled across two nearly identical farmhouses located close to adjacent stations on the Lansdale/Doylestown line in Glenside. Both of them exude early American charm; both have elements of Gothic style about them; both are adjacent to township open space; both are on spacious lots; and they’re almost identically priced (the difference: a mere $100).

This is the one that’s priced $100 higher, and the difference is worth it. It’s also the older and better maintained of the two — and the more contemporary. Read more »

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