For Sale/Rent

What $500K Will Buy You in Society Hill

Back to where it all began to find slimmer but still choice pickings, all but one of them featuring great views.

540 Cypress St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19106 | Bright MLS image via Elfant Wissahickon Realtors

We’ve been doing this feature for just over a year now, and thanks to the superheated real estate market hereabouts, we’ve noticed that the middle of the real estate market has been shrinking of late. When an owner can ask $1 million for a rehab east of Temple University Regional Rail station, what hope is there for the poor mid-market buyer?

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Well, there’s still some hope, as our return to the very first neighborhood we featured shows.

Our quick search of the southern part of zip code 19106 turned up four properties currently on the market. One is the most spacious non-expanded trinity we’ve yet run across. The other three let you rise above it all.

540 Cypress St. (above) | 2 beds, 1 full, 1 half baths, 1,104 square feet (approx.), $524,900

Its spiral staircase is open and made of steel with wood treads, but this home is a classic Colonial-style trinity in form. In style, it’s one of the best of the genre we’ve seen: exposed brick on three different levels, handsome brick fireplaces in the living room and kitchen, an exposed stone foundation, Belgian block floor and beamed ceiling in that same kitchen and another beamed ceiling in the top-floor bedroom. The top-floor bedroom becomes a mini-master suite thanks to its half bath and sitting loft above. Given its location midway between Starr Garden and Washington Square, you don’t really need a yard, do you?

540 Cypress St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19106 [Deborah Nye | Elfant Wissahickon Realtors]

Bright MLS image via Allan Domb Real Estate

210 Locust St., Apt. 27B | 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,253 square feet, $525,000

I.M. Pei turned 100 this year, and this unit and the next one give you the chance to live in one of his signature masterpieces, the landmark Society Hill Towers (1963). As with all Society Hill Towers condos, this one’s best features are the splendid views and abundant natural light the floor-to-ceiling windows in every room give you. In this unit, your views look out over the Delaware to the east and South Philly to the south. This unit’s kitchen has newer cabinets, and it and the bathrooms feature marble countertops and tilework. There’s also a stacked washer and dryer in the unit, a rare amenity for units in this complex. The complex has its own shopping plaza and a host of other amenities that include a 24-hour doorman, underground parking and access to a fitness center, outdoor pool and guest apartment for a fee.

210 Locust St., Apt. 27B, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106 [Allan Domb | Allan Domb Real Estate via Realtor.com]

Bright MLS image of view via Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty

220 Locust St., Apt. 22a-S | 2 beds, 1 bath, 1,201 square feet, $525,000

See above. Differences: you’re five floors below the previous unit, and you have spectacular views of the Ben Franklin Bridge to the north and the Center City skyline to the west. (This tower’s two siblings bracket your view of the old Mercantile Exchange and Independence Mall to the northwest.) You have only one bathroom as opposed to two, and your kitchen got updated more recently, which means stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, contemporary cabinets and white subway tile backsplashes as opposed to pink floral wallpaper. The updated bathroom features a marble-topped vanity amd shower stall frame. You’ll also have to use the coin-operated laundry in the building’s basement.

220 Locust St., Apt. 22a-S, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106 [Linda Danese | Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty]

TREND image via BHHS Fox & Roach

604 S. Washington Square, Apt. 202 | 2 beds, 1 bath, 1,200 square feet, $485,000

This apartment is in another landmark high-rise, the Hopkinson House on Washington Square (1962). Your just-slightly-elevated view looks out through the trees onto the square itself, giving your urban sophisticate’s lair a touch of bosky charm. This condo has an open living-dining room with a balcony, a mirrored wall and a built-in entertainment unit with smoked glass doors. The kitchen is a 1970s contemporary classic with sleek white cabinets and a Sub-Zero fridge. Large windows fill all its rooms with light, and the unit has a laundry as well. Amenities include a 24-hour concierge, underground parking and a rooftop pool; the last two are available for a fee. But with a Walk Score of 100 attached to this unit, we can’t imagine that you’d want to saddle yourself with the hassle of owning and parking a car in the heart of the city.

This condo’s price was reduced by $19,000 on Oct. 2 and $13,000 on Oct. 24.

604 S. Washington Square, Apt. 202, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106 [Bari Shor | BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors]


Sandy Smith Home and Real Estate Editor @MarketStEl
ssmith@phillymag.com