What’s Developing in Your Neighborhood? This New Form Lets You Find Out

Even smaller projects like this residential rehab in Nicetown can have big impacts on their neighborhoods. While a project of this type would not have to complete it, a new Project Information Form aims to get accurate information about the impact of new construction into residents’ hands. | Photo: Sandy Smith

The whole point of the 2012 zoning code overhaul was to make it easier for builders and developers to build and develop in Philadelphia by making more projects by right. But there was a secondary goal as well: to make sure that if a project needed to go through review, everyone with a stake in the outcome — not only the builder and developer but also the neighbors and the larger community — got to provide knowledgeable feedback on the merits and demerits.

As it’s turned out, that’s worked out about as well as could be expected at the Civic Design Review level, which all large projects must go through. But there’s also the neighborhood review level, required before any project that requires a variance goes before the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

And here, some neighborhoods had more and better knowledge than others. A new law introduced by Councilwoman Cherelle Parker (D-9th District) and passed by City Council May 19 aims to correct that imbalance. Read more »

What $500K Will Buy You in Wyncote

415 Crescent Rd., Wyncote, Pa. 19095 | Photo: Kate Devlin via The Lamb Squad, BHHS Fox & Roach

Some pretty grand mansions went up in Cheltenham Township’s western reaches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Philadelphia’s new grandees, their wallets made fat off streetcars, sugar and the like but shunned by old-money Proper Philadelphia, sought a place where they could build status symbols.

Some of those survive with other uses, such as Grey Towers, the heart of Arcadia University. Others continue to fade gently (or sadly) as buyers prove unwilling to shell out for them. (Got $17.5 million lying around? Have we got a deal for you. The seller actually upped the asking price since it was previously put on the market.)

And there are still some pretty fantastic homes coming on the market every so often up this way. But not everyone’s a millionaire. Those of you not in that category can also find some very attractive homes in Wyncote and environs. These three homes are mature specimens situated on lushly landscaped lots with plenty of attractive features, and all have been very well maintained. Read on, non-fat cats, and rejoice.

415 Crescent Rd. (above) | 5 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths, 3,974 square feet, $525,000

This modest Cape Cod home feels much grander than the typical home of this type thanks to its secluded positioning on its 1.25-acre wooded lot. It’s also much lighter and brighter than the typical home of this type thanks to an owner who has chosen color schemes that make the most of the abundant natural light that pours through its windows. The living room features a wood-burning fireplace, there’s a bright formal dining room and a spacious eat-in kitchen, and an attractive sun room opens up onto a rear yard with a built-in pool. There’s also a stone patio off the dining room that’s a perfect spot for dining al fresco.

This home’s price was reduced by $24,000 on May 11.

415 Crescent Rd., Wyncote, Pa. 19095 [Rob Lamb | The Lamb Squad | BHHS Fox & Roach – Chestnut Hill]

651 Mulford Rd., Wyncote, Pa. 19095 | TREND image via RE/MAX Millennium

651 Mulford Rd. | 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths, 2,871 square feet, $495,000

Another home in a lush garden, this classic Colonial has gotten updated since it arrived on the scene in 1950. The nicest of the updates can be found in the kitchen, which got an airy and light-filled breakfast area with vaulted ceiling tacked onto its rear when it got its own makeover. The living room retains its classic charm, with a fireplace and built-in custom bookshelves, while the master suite upstairs got an upgrade that includes a travertine marble bathroom and a closet with custom built-in cabinetry. There’s also an in-law or guest suite with its own separate entrance over the garage.

651 Mulford Rd., Wyncote, Pa. 19095 [Francis Verna | RE/MAX Millennium]

1212 Gordon Rd., Jenkintown, Pa. 19046 | TREND image via Keller Williams Realty

1212 Gordon Rd., Jenkintown | 5 beds, 5 full, 1 half baths, 3,500 square feet, $499,000

While this home is actually on the Jenkintown side of Township Line Road, it’s so close to Cheltenham Township we decided to include it; after all, Jenkintown and Wyncote share a SEPTA Regional Rail station located on the edge of both communities. The only thing this handsome 1926 Colonial lacks that the other homes have is a large woodsy lot, but it packs a lot into its half acre, including a heated in-ground pool and two outdoor dining areas, one of them under a cedar-shake-roofed porch. Inside, it has every modern convenience and then some: a modern kitchen with island seating, a sun-drenched family room, an equally sunny formal dining room and a sumptuous master suite that includes a luxurious master bath and a sunny Florida room for your mornings. Down below you’ll find a gym and a rec room with fireplace and bar, and up top there’s a loft suite that’s perfect for an au pair or in-law.

The furniture in this home is also for sale, and according to the listing, “seller says Husband can be included (negotiable).”

1212 Gordon Rd., Jenkintown, Pa. 19046 [Sharyn Kabbani | Keller Williams Realty – Main Line]

Single-Family Workforce Housing Comes to East Poplar

Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Greg Heller (fifth from left), City Council President Darrell Clarke (to the right of Heller), representatives of BMK Properties and its parent The Riverwards Group and representatives of the East Poplar RCO and Meridian Bank pose after the formal ribbon-cutting May 24. | Photo: The Riverwards Group

Late on Wednesday morning (May 24th) in East Poplar, City Council President Darrell Clarke, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Greg Heller, and representatives of BMK Properties, a subsidiary of The Riverwards Group, cut the ribbon on the first 13 townhomes to be built under a city-sponsored program intended to stimulate the production of workforce housing.

These three-story townhomes, work on which began last November, have three bedrooms and two bathrooms each. They are equipped with dual-zone climate control systems and water heaters that are at least 92 percent energy efficient.

They sell for $229,900. To qualify for one, a prospective buyer cannot earn more than 120 percent of the area median income, a figure that ranges from about $67,000 annually for a single individual to $105,000 for a family of five. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: A Reborn Classic in Rittenhouse for $3.69M

2012 Spruce St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103 | Photos: Drew Callaghan Photography via Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty

Wonder what opulence looked like in the mid-19th century?

Wonder no more, for the architect who restored this gorgeous 1860 brownstone on Spruce Street in Rittenhouse was (almost) totally faithful to the style of the era.

This home was lovingly restored a few years back, with all of the lavish original detailing brought back to a high polish and some 21st-century touches thrown in. Read more »

9 Doormats That Say Exactly the Right Thing


Tis the season for sprucing up your stoop. If your doormat didn’t survive the winter and you’re searching for a replacement, allow me to point you to several that say, well, everything — whether you’re feeling sassy, welcoming or a bit of both.  Read more »

Laura Blau Rebuilds Her Dream House

When all is said and done, Laura Blau’s Pine Street residence (with the boarded-up window in this photo) will be the healthiest, most energy-efficient house on its block. She, her husband Paul Thompson and her three tenants will be much better off for the effort. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Architect Laura Blau’s firm, BluPath, specializes in coming up with sustainable solutions to all sorts of design and construction problems. She was an early adopter in this region of the ultra-energy-efficient set of practices and standards that go by the name “passive house,” which in English carries a connotation that’s more restrictive than in the original German.

All the same, many of Blau’s projects have been residential in nature. She’s currently embarked on one of the more comprehensive such projects, namely, rebuilding her own 1850s townhome on Pine Street in Rittenhouse to meet passive house standards. Read more »

Housing in Greater Philadelphia Got A Little More Affordable Last Quarter, Survey Finds

Housing in Philadelphia got a little more affordable in the first quarter of 2017, according to the figures in the latest edition of HSH.com’s quarterly survey of housing affordability in 27 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.

Or it got a good bit less affordable.

It all depends on your time horizon.

In either case, however, the annual salary you need to afford the median-priced home in this area remains below the area median household income of $65,123 (as of 2015, the latest Census Bureau figure available). Read more »

First-Time Find: Design for Living in Old Richmond for $325K

2301 E. Cabot St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19125 | Photos: Dan Robnett, PLUSH, via Custom Philly Homes

The buzz these days is that Fishtown may be over — that is, it’s no longer a neighborhood where you can snap up a housing bargain or find a decent starter home.

We have in this designer home where Fishtown and Old Richmond meet evidence to the contrary.

“Wait, what?” we hear you ask. “A designer home for $325,000?”

Miracles do happen, and this is one of them. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: The Adams

The wraps are still on the cabinets and appliances in this almost-finished apartment in the Adams. Most of the units on the 12th floor are move-in ready, though one isn’t yet because it’s being used for construction staging. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Post Brothers’ Presidential City Rejuvenation Derby has entered the home stretch. When it’s finished, the iconic four-building apartment complex erected in 1951-53 by prolific Philadelphia builder John McShain (aka “The Man Who Built Washington”) will present a totally 21st-century face to passers-by.

Three of the four towers — the Washington, Jefferson and Madison — have been completed, as has the complex’s all-new on-site resort, the Sora Pool Club, which made its debut with a splash last summer. The Adams, the family-friendly tower of the bunch, is well past the halfway mark to completion of its makeover, with its upper floors ready to receive tenants. Read more »

Trinity Tuesday: Old-World Charm in Fitler Square for $845K

2420 Panama St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103 | TREND images via Agent PHL

Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, including a large master bedroom and bath.

1,992 square feet of interior space.

Pretty decent for an attractive, beautifully updated home on one of those charming little cobblestone streets you find scattered throughout Center City (this one’s on the western fringe of Fitler Square).

This home caught our eye the moment the listing agent called it to our attention. Then we noticed a signal element in the photos. So we asked the agent: “Isn’t this an expanded trinity?”

The answer came back in the affirmative, which is why you’re reading about it here now. Read more »

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