Who’s Building Philly: Alon Seltzer

One of Alon Seltzer's Rittenhouse Savoy studio makeovers. | Apartment photos: Brian Lauer

Alon Seltzer’s own Rittenhouse Savoy studio was one of two makeovers that wowed viewers during Zillow’s “Tiny House Week.” | Apartment photos: Brian Lauer

Before the “tiny house,” there was the Rittenhouse Square efficiency apartment.

These shoeboxes for urban cliff dwellers enabled singles and others whose desire for urban living exceeded their need for space to take advantage of all the city had to offer: parks, cafés, shopping, culture, you name it. When the city was your living room, why bother with one of your own?

That attribute makes these efficiencies and studios popular with a younger set even now. But there’s a hitch: Back in the 1950s, when most of the apartment buildings containing these units were built, they weren’t terribly efficient in the way they used their limited space. And their appearance had likewise become dated.

Enter Alon Seltzer with his repair kit. Read more »

More Community-Building in Brewerytown, Starting at $425K

Brewers Mill Townhomes | Renderings: Cadre Design via Agent PHL

Brewers Mill Townhomes | Renderings: Cadre Design via Agent PHL

Last week, we showcased the one-home-at-a-time approach to transforming a rundown block with our Hard Hat Tour of 1423 N. Myrtlewood St. in Brewerytown.

This week, we have an example of the package-deal approach: the Brewers Mill Townhomes project on the 1400 block of North 28th Street, a block and a half to the east.

This development from Argo Property Group is also an infill project, consisting at the outset of nine brand-new townhomes designed by Cadre Design of Manayunk. The homes are scattered throughout a block of a street that, like Myrtlewood, currently consists of some occupied homes, some vacant ones and some empty lots. Read more »

DIY Network Hopes You’ll Flip Over Its Newest Show

Philly-Street-Flippin

Looking to add a little flair to your tired rowhome?

You might want to engage the services of Rachel Street, owner of Hestia Construction LLC.

Or you might want to learn how she does it by tuning into her new TV show, “Philly Street Flippin’.”

The series focuses on Hestia’s work on renovation projects all over Philadelphia. Street, who is also a Realtor with Space & Company, specializes in taking architecturally interesting older homes and making them new again through the strategic use of details like specialty tile, reclaimed wood and distinctive items from Philadelphia Salvage. Read more »

500 Walnut: Can You Top This?

"Thomas Jefferson" welcomes invitees to today's 500 Walnut topping-off ceremony and introduces developer Tom Scannapieco, to his left. Also on the podium, from left to right: Mayor Jim Kenney, architect Cecil Baker, Intech Construction President Will Schwartz and ULLICO Regional Manager Matthew Downs. | Photos: Sandy Smith; renderings: Cecil Baker + Partners via Scannapieco Development

“Thomas Jefferson” welcomes invitees to today’s 500 Walnut topping-off ceremony and introduces developer Tom Scannapieco, to his left. Also on the podium, from left to right: Mayor Jim Kenney, architect Cecil Baker, Intech Construction President Will Schwartz and ULLICO Regional Manager Matthew Downs. | Photos: Sandy Smith; renderings: Cecil Baker + Partners via Scannapieco Development

Is Tom Scannapieco a revolutionary?

“Thomas Jefferson” apparently thinks so, for today’s lunchtime ceremony marking the formal topping-off of Scannapieco Development Corporation’s latest luxury condo tower, 500 Walnut, opened with a character actor playing the Sage of Monticello praising Tom’s vision and boldness.

And there’s no denying that the Cecil Baker + Partners-designed tower makes a bold statement on its site across Walnut Street from Independence Hall.

We’ll get to the ways it does that, and the clever magic trick Baker pulled off, in a bit. But first, some facts and figures: Read more »

New Senior Tower Owner to Residents: “Get Out (More)!”

The John Fox Tower at 22nd and Market streets | Photo courtesy Vitus Group

The John Fox Tower at 22nd and Market streets | Photo courtesy Vitus Group

The building that opened 50 years ago as the Sidney Hillman Apartments at 22nd and Ludlow streets has a new name, a new owner and a new mission: To maximize the happiness of its older residents.

The new name is the John Fox Tower, a name chosen to reduce confusion with other monuments to legendary garment workers’ union leader Sidney Hillman’s legacy while continuing to recognize the role its builder, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, played in creating this facility. The new owner of the building is the Vitus Group, a developer of affordable “communities of opportunity” in 21 states from coast to coast. And one of the ways Vitus aims to fulfill its mission is by getting the complex’s residents out more often. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: The Parish House

Made by hand, not beforehand: A Red Oak construction crew member works on the hinge of a custom door made from wood salvaged from the demolition of the parish house's interior. The door will lead from this home's finished basement rec room to the mechanical room. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Craft-brewed building: A Red Oak construction crew member works on the hinge of a custom door made from wood salvaged from the demolition of the parish house’s interior. The door will lead from this home’s finished basement rec room to the mechanical room. | Photos: Sandy Smith

“God is in the details.” —Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

God, then, continues to make his presence felt throughout the building that began life in 1912 as the parish house for the Episcopal Church of Emmanuel and the Good Shepherd in East Kensington, for Red Oak Development, which is converting the building into five three-story townhouses with finished basements, is loading these new homes with fine architectural details — most of them salvaged from the building itself. Read more »

Two Promising Designers Take Top Honors in Philadelphia Furniture Competition

'Library Bench' by Julia Michalski | Images courtesy of Fabien Communications

‘Library Bench’ by Julia Michalski | Images courtesy of Fabien Communications

For Julia Michalski and Justin Seow, things are about to get really exciting.

The two up-and-coming furniture designers just made Philadelphia Furniture Show history by tying for first place in the show’s annual Emerging Artist Competition. Michalski is a Harvard graduate and fabricator from Newtown, Pa., and Seow is a current furniture design student at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The competition, sponsored by The Furniture Society, had a total of 33 applicants from 15 states and Canada whose works were judged on six criteria: skill, craftsmanship, design, innovation, beauty, and presentation. Competition judge David Short of Edgewood Made said in a news release, “There was a great level of craftsmanship and diversity in design that made it especially hard to determine a winner.” Read more »

Developers Duel for Right to Build on Chinatown Block

Site plans for the two proposals: Pennrose's on the left, Parkway's on the right. | Renderings: WRT (left) / Cecil Baker & Partners (right) via Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Site plans for the two proposals: Pennrose’s on the left, Parkway’s on the right. | Renderings: WRT (left) / Cecil Baker & Partners (right) via Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority

Two of Philly’s local development heavyweights, Pennrose Properties and Parkway Corporation, are duking it out for the right to develop a parcel of land the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority owns on Chinatown’s eastern edge.

This past Monday evening, the developers made their cases for their projects at an informational meeting in Chinatown.

The site in question takes up three-quarters of the block bounded by 8th, 9th, Race and Vine streets. Ridge Avenue once split this block in two diagonally, and the Chinatown station on the Broad-Ridge Spur lies beneath it as a result. This, along with the Commuter Tunnel running north-south under the station, placed some constraints on what the developers could build on the site.

The two projects are similar in several respects, but there are some key differences. Read more »

Another Townhouse Project “Shovel Ready” on the Waterfront

The shovel-ready townhouse development being offered next to Penn Treaty Park. | Renderings and sketches: Abitare Design Studio via Shovel Ready Projects

The shovel-ready townhouse development being offered next to Penn Treaty Park. | Renderings and sketches: Abitare Design Studio via Shovel Ready Projects

Shovel Ready Projects is living up to its name once again with another turnkey project it’s offering on the Delaware waterfront.

This one’s a 19-unit townhouse development from Abitare Design Studio, located on a narrow sliver of land just south of Penn Treaty Park.

The project is aptly named: the homes Abitare designed for “Penn Treaty Views” put their best faces towards the park, with large expanses of windows facing north. All 19 homes have full-floor roof decks with pilot houses near their centers that split the decks into north- and south-facing sides (east- and west-facing in the case of the 19th unit on the east end). Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: Lokal

A model suite at Lokal. | Photos: Sandy Smith

A model suite at Lokal. | Photos: Sandy Smith

The PHLCVB, of course, wants you to Visit Philadelphia®.

The owners of Lokal, a new boutique hotel opening next month on North 3rd Street in Old City, wants you to see it like a native.

To help you do that, they’ve made themselves scarce and outfitted the suites so that you can settle in like a resident.

The six-unit hotel with a salon on the street floor is in the final stages of construction. Two model suites — a family-friendly two-bedroom and a one-bedroom — have been outfitted by the Jersey Ice Cream Company, the firm co-owners Chad and Courtney Ludeman hired to design the facility. (Yes, it’s an interior design firm. They don’t make ice cream at all.) Read more »

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