University City District: Crime Is Down

The latest crime-update email from the University City District reports that for the month of June there was a decrease in crime, which is always what UCity landlords like to hear, especially as students begin to look for housing in July and August. Crime in the area is monitored and controlled not only by the Philadelphia Police Department, but by UCD, the Penn Police Department, the Drexel Police Department, and a host of other security details and town watches and public safety units from all the other institutions in the area. If you think about it, it should be the safest place in the city. Below, more stats.

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Property Moguls Behaving Badly: Peeing on Skittles

Ryan Gosling in the film All Good Things, loosely based on the life of Robert Durst.

Ryan Gosling in the film All Good Things, loosely based on the life of Robert Durst.

Son of the late real estate magnate Seymour Durst, and a real estate force in his own right, Robert Durst is once again in the news, but this time, it’s not about selling buildings.

Last week, he made news in the New York Post with the headline “Cross-dressing killer now making a killing in NYC real estate” after he sold two buildings in Brooklyn for $21.15 million.

Durst is a pariah in a family that owns many, many billions worth of property in New York (you know you probably won’t be invited to Thanksgiving when 12 of your relatives have restraining orders against you). But he’s still very much in the game: His wife is a New York real estate broker, and he has a chunky trust fund. Aside from those Brooklyn buildings, the Post’s Jennifer Gould Keil writes, “Durst has also gotten his hands on some killer real estate in Harlem, where prices have skyrocketed” and “reportedly paid $3 million in September 2012 for a 41.96 percent interest in Havemeyer Portfolio LLC.”

Why all the “killer” references? Well, Durst has a troubled history, to say the least.

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New Renderings of 205 Race Street

A new rendering of 205 Race Street, courtesy of the developers

The 197-foot 205 Race Street apartment tower to be located near the Ben Franklin Bridge has a long and acrimonious history. The developers, Jeffrey Brown and Greg Hill, have owned the site (now a vacant lot) for a decade, and this is their third attempt to develop it. In 2012, a version of the tower was opposed by the (now defunct) Old City Civic Association, which argued that its scale didn’t fit the historic neighborhood.

Inga Saffron weighed in, in favor of the tower, and City Council ended up passing a bill designed to allow it to go through.

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Sylvan Edge Estate Is Just Minutes From Lynnewood Hall

TREND photo via

TREND photo via Long & Foster

Given its proximity, it seems almost criminal not to mention Sylvan Edge’s fascinating neighbor, Lynnewood Hall, first. Thus, a little history of the phenomenal property that’s now on the market for $20 million:

The property, built in 1898 from a commission made by Peter A.B. Widener to Horace Trumbauer, had additions constructed by Trumbauer and Angus Wade. The former’s carriage house has echoes of Versailles’ Petite Trianon, making the nickname given to it by Widener’s grandson all the more appropriate: “the last American Versailles.”

Between 1909 and 1910, Trumbauer added the Van Dyck gallery for Widener’s growing art collection. A decade later, he re-imagined the carriage house so that it could serve as a residence for the family of Widener’s grandson. In 1996, doctor and Reverend Richard S. Yoon bought the property after its former owners, a seminary, had rid the estate of significant features. Interior shots of Lynnewood Hall can be found here. And videos here.

Sylvan Edge, on the other hand, is like a scaled down version of the Lynnewood estate. This gated home, which has been featured in the likes of Architectural Digest, is situated on a cobblestone Belgian block driveway with walled courtyard.

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Flyers’ Claude Giroux Buys Unit at 10 Rittenhouse

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Photo by Laura Kicey.

Does Claude Giroux care that he’ll be close to Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon, who live at 1706, now that he bought a penthouse unit at 10 Rittenhouse? Do the Phillies and the Flyers guys hang out? (In fact, does anyone hang out with Jonathan Papelbon?)

Well, no matter. He has plenty of other bigwigs to hang with at 10 Rittenhouse, as the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Natalie Kostelni — the Brenda Starr of real estate reporting — revealed today. Last year, Property’s Shannon Rooney and Laura Kicey took a look at the penthouses in progress, and some of these photos are those being used to market the 29th-floor units, one of which Giroux bought for $2.2 million or thereabouts. Thus, we can assume the photos below represent the way Claude Giroux will now live:

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Unique Upper Merion Home Overlooking Gulph Creek

117 Arden Road, Gulph Mills, PA.

117 Arden Road, Gulph Mills, PA.

Don’t be fooled by the crisp white exterior of this eighteenth-century stone manse. It was once a cluster of individual textile mills, which have since been combined to create a roomy abode looking out onto the waters of Gulph Creek at Hanging Rock.

As one might expect, the woods-surrounded home has an interesting interior layout. For one thing, the floor plan permits for two master bedrooms, one of which has a custom-outfitted dressing room. Distinctive features include Mercer tile, exposed beams and timbers, and six fireplaces–all of which are artisan-crafted.

The home’s outdoor highlights are its terraced gardens, two-car garage with upper level, and numerous outdoor entertaining spaces. Gallery below.

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Barnes Architects and “Skyspace” Artist to Receive National Medal of Arts

The new Barnes Foundation in Center City

Newsworks reports that President Obama will award the National Medal of Arts to Billie Tsien and Tod Williams, architects of the new Barnes Foundation (as well as Penn’s Skirkanich Hall and two dorms at Haverford College), and to James Turrell, the extraordinary light artist who recently created one of his signature “skyspaces” in Chestnut Hill, along with nine other recipients.

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Midday Headlines: Rittenhouse Club Horror Story

home for sale

New projects in and around the city are thriving (even if approvals can be cumbersome), but not all developments are created equal. Case in point: the Rittenhouse Club condo apartments in Norristown.

In an an article written for the Inquirer, Carolyn Davis tells the home buyer horror story that unfolded with a Norristown condo complex at its center.

The 26-unit project by developer R. Bruce Fazio cropped up with issues from the start. And not just cliché, annoying-leaky-pipes type of issues. No, more like scary naked wiring and wooden fire-escape staircase (what?!) issues. And it doesn’t stop there:

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Hidden 8BR Glenside Estate With Cupola

TREND photo courtesy Long & Foster.

TREND photo courtesy Long & Foster.

The thing we love most about this beautiful Glenside estate is that it has been restored to its 1830s heyday but there are still opportunities for new owners to personalize the property. With only four previous owners, the estate has retained original elements like pocket doors and pocket shutters as well as original pinewood flooring. While the property has been renovated meticulously, new owners will still have the chance to devise any use they like for two very cool spaces: a cupola and a restored barn.

The main living areas of the home include a library with the double whammy of built-in bookshleves and window seats. A formal living room features a fireplace with Mercer tile (you’ll also find that in the bathrooms and in one of the other three fireplaces). The kitchen has been fully renovated and includes radiant heat flooring, an eight-burner, two-oven Wolf stove, a Sub Zero refrigerator and a separate wine cooler. The first-floor dining room could accommodate more than 150 guests at a cocktail party.

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UNIQLO Now Planning Four Area Stores

UNIQLOThe extremely trendy and fairly inexpensive clothing retailer UNIQLO is invading the region: first, a store opened in the King of Prussia Mall. Then stores were announced for Center City’s Chestnut Street and the Willow Grove Park Mall. Now, Shoppist reports that the Tokyo-based company is coming to South Jersey as well, to the Cherry Hill Mall:

A rep confirms that the store will open on September 26th, just a week before the October 3rd opening at 1608 Chestnut Street. It will be on the main level, sandwiched between a Bath & Body Works and an Abercrombie & Fitch. If you’re counting, this is four UNIQLO stores to open region in less than a year. World domination next? (Or maybe just Delaware.)

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