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 »

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 »

43 New Townhouses Coming to Northern Liberties

Rendering of Liberty Square townhouse project by Atrium Design Studio via PRDC Properties

This landed in the Property inbox a few days ago: an announcement from PRDC Properties that it would soon begin work on a 43-unit townhouse development at the southern edge of Northern Liberties.

Designed by Atrium Design Studio, the project hits all the usual high notes: sleek modern design with brick, steel and glass outside, and roomy (3,100- to 3,800-square-foot) three- and four-bedroom units with such features as 10-foot-high ceilings, quartz countertops in the kitchens, Porcelanosa bathrooms, enchanting roof decks and community green space. And, of course, garage parking for one or two cars per unit: even though PRDC CEO David Perlman said in a news release that “the project was designed with walkability in mind,” this is Northern Liberties, after all, and no residential project that would put more resident cars on the street would pass muster with the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association.

The name of the project: Liberty Square.

Which is also the name of a much larger development now under construction a little bit to the north, on the South Kensington side of Girard Avenue. Read more »

Resort-Style Living for the Active Senior Set Comes to King of Prussia

Canvas Valley Forge’s front door. | Exterior renderings: KTGY via Bozzuto Development Company

Club Med it ain’t, but Canvas Valley Forge comes awfully damn close — the only thing missing is the beach.

The new 55-plus residential community Bozzuto Development Company is now building at the Village at Valley Forge is, if not the first, one of the first in the country to adapt the all-inclusive resort ethos to what we really can’t call “senior living” any more.

That’s because the “seniors” at whom this residential community is aimed have no intention of “retiring.” They’re the Baby Boomers who raised their kids in the ‘burbs but are now ready to downsize their lives. What Bozzuto is banking on is that while they may want a smaller living-space footprint, they’d rather keep the amenities they enjoyed, and then some. Read more »

Common Threads in This Year’s Rouse Award Residential Finalists

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year's Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year’s Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

The Urban Land Institute Philadelphia District Council announced the finalists for this year’s Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence last week, and five of the 14 finalists fall into the residential category, at least in part.

And it’s that “at least in part” part that’s one of the most significant common threads connecting the five projects. The message these projects deliver is one that urbanists, developers and planners have all been hammering home in one way or another for more than a decade now: Single-use is out, multitasking is in. (Toll Brothers, please copy.)

Not even the most residential of the five projects is exclusively residential, and that project has many other features that make it a standout. Read more »

Carl Dranoff Takes the Wraps Off One Riverside

(Left to right) Planning and Development Director Anne Fadullon, Carl Dranoff, City Council member Kenyatta Johnson (D-2nd District) and Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of One Riverside May 2nd. | Photo: Sandy Smith

(Left to right) Planning and Development Director Anne Fadullon, Carl Dranoff, City Council member Kenyatta Johnson (D-2nd District) and Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of One Riverside May 2nd. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Surrounded by examples from each of the stages of his career as a developer here in Philadelphia, Carl Dranoff officially cut the ribbon on his latest contribution to the Philadelphia skyline, the One Riverside luxury apartment tower, in a ceremony yesterday evening (May 2nd).

Joining him in marking the occasion were the building’s architect, Cecil Baker; officials from the tower’s builder, Intech Construction; and the local officials who helped smooth the project’s path to completion, including Council members Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla and Al Taubenberger and city Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis.

Dranoff’s own assessment of the end result can best be summed up in this sentence from his remarks at the ribbon-cutting: “World-class buildings like this one elevate Philadelphia to a world-class city.” Read more »

An Artist’s Gallery Home Goes Up for Sale with an Exhibition

626 Creighton Rd., Villanova, Pa. 19085 | Photo: Herb Engelsberg

626 Creighton Rd., Villanova, Pa. 19085 | Photos: Herb Engelsberg, including TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach, unless otherwise indicated

Artist Lynda Howitt draws solace from the sea. She spent her formative years living in an oceanside home in Australia, to which her parents fled to escape the murderous regime of Idi Amin, and her works frequently play on the interaction between sea and sky.

But it was a thoroughly landlocked home in Villanova that captured her fancy when she was looking for a place to live in this country.

She recognized the moment she saw it that she was about to buy an art gallery as well as a home.

“The original owners that we bought it from purposely built it to showcase their amazing art collection,” Howitt said. “Being an artist, I couldn’t help but imagine my own art on the walls when I first viewed the house.” Read more »

A Face-Saving Gesture for the Royal Theater

The South Street facade of the planned residential-retail development. | Rendering: JKRP Architects

The South Street facade of the planned residential-retail development. | Renderings: JKRP Architects

We now know what the residential project that will rise behind the front wall of the Royal Theater in the 1600 block of South Street will look like.

That’s because the site’s owner, Sarasota, Fla.-based developer and medical research backer Robert Roskamp is ready to proceed with the project, which hews closely to plans developer Carl Dranoff had been discussing with Universal Companies head Kenny Gamble last summer.

According to a news report on Philly.com today, the project, which will go before Civic Design Review tomorrow (Tuesday, May 2nd), will consist of 57 apartments in a six-story structure to be built behind the South Street theater’s facade plus seven three-story townhouses at the rear of the theater site, fronting on Kater Street. Read more »

Tea and a House Tour in Overbrook Farms May 7

Where the Main Line got its start: Historic Overbrook Farms opens itself up to you on its annual house tour May 7. | Photo by Smallbones via WIkimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0

Where the Main Line got its start: Historic Overbrook Farms opens itself up to you on its annual house tour May 7. | Photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Main Line actually begins on the Philadelphia side of the city line,in the historic neighborhood known as Overbrook Farms. And on May 7, you can see how the birthplace of the Main Line is faring now on the Overbrook Farms Club’s annual House Tour and Tea.

Laid out in 1892 as a residential suburb for the well-to-do, Overbrook Farms attracted some of the city’s most successful industrialists, businessmen and politicians from its outset. Its huge architect-designed homes remain hot properties to this day, and the neighborhood’s status as a National Register historic district means its character will likewise be preserved for the future. Read more »

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