Just a Little Peek: Inside Delaware’s (Royally-Tied) Rockspring Estate

Images courtesy of Carroll Laurence

Photos: Brandywine Sotheby’s International Realty

Well, this obviously trumps that time my friends and I found a wad of old bills hidden in the rafters of my basement closet. See, Francesca Rudin, she of unique vintage collectibles shop Scout and Annie +Details in Kennett Square, lives with her family at Rockspring, a 14-acre estate in New Castle County, Delaware. It’s a home with quite the story.

Once a property belonging to the famous Du Pont family, Rudin says she and her husband found it terribly dreary, with little light or notable architectural details to speak of when they bought it nearly fifteen years ago. They wanted it regardless, however. “Our goal was to bring it into the 21st century and to let in a lot of light because it was a dark house. Peter really had a vision of how to do that, so now it’s a very bright and airy house,” she recalls.

The Peter in question is architect Peter Zimmerman, who’s had a hand in designing other area homes like this and this.

But why the Rudin’s commitment to what sounded like a TLC-needing home?

“Probably insanity,” laughs Rudin.

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Revealed: The 7 West Philly Buildings Recently Purchased by Post Brothers

The Netherlands building at 4300 Chestnut | Google Street View

The Netherlands building at 4300 Chestnut | Google Street View

As we told you in late October, Post Brothers is betting big on the area in and around University City. While their plans will initially start with a massive renovation project at the Garden Court Plaza, an apartment house at 47th and Pine, the scope of their overall $250 million investment is now starting to be revealed.

Melissa Romero of Curbed Philly reports that Matthew Pestronk, president and co-founder of Post Brothers, unveiled their new West Philly portfolio at a meeting in front of the Spruce Hill Community Association this week. It contains no fewer than seven aging (and beautiful) buildings spread out all over the area, and Romero says that the developer wanted talk with residents in attendance and ease their concerns: “Everything here is historic. We are not tearing down any buildings.”

While a statement like that deserves pause, especially in light of the recent news about the three buildings on Sansom Street that Southern Land Company seeks to demolish, remember that it was Post Brothers who did the seemingly unthinkable and redeveloped the dilapidated Goldtex Building into a glistening apartment complex. They’re also in the thick of bringing Presidential City, a multi-building complex, back to life.

“We’ve never demolished any historic buildings, or any buildings. Period,” echoed Mike Pestronk, Matthew’s brother, in an interview with Property. The developers quietly assembled the West Philly properties from four different owners over the past two months. Pestronk said they’re presently working on two more potential acquisitions, “but it’s not a definite they will happen.”

Here’s the list of their new buildings in West Philly:

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Perks: USA Today Picks Philly Hotel as Best for Coffee-Loving Travelers

Freshly ground La Colombe, anyone? | Instagram

Freshly ground La Colombe, anyone? | Sean Bauer, Instagram

Lookin’ for a hotel with some serious perks for coffee-enthusiasts? USA Today recently compiled a list of the 5 best hotels for coffee-lovers across the globe, and one Center City establishment is near the top of the heap.

ROOST Apartment Hotel, an urban-chic extended stay brand that revamped the upper floors of the Packard Building at 15th and Chestnut, ranks #3, specifically due to their coffee program and Coffee Concierge.

Essentially, ROOST supplies guests with nearly $750 in high-end coffee making equipment (and instructions) in order to encourage residents to brew the most incredible coffee they’ve ever made. Perhaps the best part: it’s local.

“All of the property’s apartments include a tin of La Colombe whole beans, a 6-cup Chemex Coffee Maker, Hario Drip Scale, Bonavita Electric Kettle, and Baratza Virtuoso Grinder,” says the listicle in USA Today. Want the coffee shop experience in your room? You can call the Coffee Concierge to do it for you. Boom.

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Developer Seeks Approval to Demolish Trio of Historic Sansom Street Buildings

The Rittenhouse Coffee Shop on the 1900 block of Sansom Street

The Rittenhouse Coffee Shop on the 1900 block of Sansom Street

The 1900 block of Sansom Street has seen some things, man.

As you know, the auditorium at the Boyd Theatre on the north side of the street will soon make way for some sort of tower developed by Pearl Properties. It’s been a slow death for the old movie house, and now it’s all but gone. But let’s talk about the south side for a brief minute, as Michael Bixler from Hidden City reports that there are a few more historic buildings in danger of meeting the wrecking ball.

Southern Land Company is developing 1911 Walnut, a luxury high-rise that is reportedly going to be designed by Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz Architects. However, the deal didn’t just include the prized Rittenhouse lot. Southern Land Company bought what amounts to a massive L-shaped parcel that stretches back to Sansom Street to the north and is bound by 20th Street to the west. If you remember, the deal also included three vacant buildings, each listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places: the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop (1904 Sansom), the Warwick Apartment House (1906-16 Sansom) and the Oliver H. Bair Funeral Home (1918-20 Sansom).

A spokesperson from Southern Land Company told us in February that the developer intended to work with the Historical Commission to restore the buildings, but as Bixler reports, that’s not necessarily the case.

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Art Commission Gives Thumbs Up to LOVE Park Redesign

Aerial view of the new LOVE Park | Renderings: Hargreaves and Associates, KieranTimberlake and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Aerial view of the new LOVE Park | Renderings: Hargreaves and Associates, KieranTimberlake and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

LOVE Park‘s ambitious redesign plan was approved by the Art Commission this week. While accolades for the park’s overall design and its metallic, color-changing Percent for Art installation were plentiful, the Commission wanted one tiny thing added to the final design: two public drinking fountains.

PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that the Commission added “a requirement for the fountains,” which is important because unlike the non-binding design recommendations of Civic Design Review, the public fountains are now legally required to be installed in the park. The Art Commission has some juice, baby.

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HGTV Dubs Mt. Airy’s Goat Hollow the Best “Posh Public Space”

940x540 Metcalfe-Architecture-Design_Goat-Hollow-Posh-Public_3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960

Photo credit: Metcalfe Architecture & Design

A Philly eatery was put under the spotlight recently, though not for the reasons you might be thinking. Instead of its delectables earning it accolades, it was its interior design: Mt. Airy’s Goat Hollow was dubbed HGTV‘s favorite in the “Posh Public Spaces” contest.

Goat Hollow, which re-opened in 2013 at the same spot it occupied nearly a decade ago, was originally a 1920s house before being converted into a restaurant. This time around, though, the owners had local firm Metcalfe Architecture & Design rehab the property with help from Philadelphia Salvage, Fillippi Bros., Inc., and Design Nehez.

The result? Gorgeous. We’re honestly surprised it took this long for someone to give it kudos.

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Waterfront Wishes: Bridesburg Neighbors Voice Desires For New Riverfront Park

Long-earmarked in city-wide and waterfront master plan studies as potentially viable for parkland or anything other than its industrial past, the 9.4-acre riverfront parcel at 3101 Orthodox Street in Bridesburg is now gradually materializing.

Image via DRCC-Phila.org

The site of the proposed riverfront park in Bridesburg | Image via DRCC-Phila.org

Sitting adjacent to the former coal-operating Philadelphia Coke Company facility, the property is now at the center of discussion at community engagement meetings headed by the Delaware River City Corporation (DRCC) and the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

In case you missed it, Parks & Rec. acquired the site, which had once been part of a Dietz & Watson foundry, last year. As PlanPhilly reported then, the land went to the department upon the city reaching a land swap deal with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), which owned the parcel at the time.

Now, equipped with William Penn Foundation grant funding for the community engagement process, DRCC and Parks & Rec. are in the midst of the “concept development” stage of the proposed venture. Neighbors, of course, are a crucial element to the unfolding plan: “We had a series of community meetings working with a consultant to develop what [residents] perceive the space should be used for and function as. This is all about getting the baseline concept in place to support the community,” Stephanie Craighead, Director of Planning, Preservation and Property Management at Parks and Recreation, told Property.

And what do Bridesburg residents want? Well, over the course of the neighborhoods meetings that have taken place, Craighead says a special interest has been expressed in Read more »

Verdant Temple Pilot Project Nears Completion, Master Plan Revealed

Rendering: Perspective view of the proposed central New Green at Temple University's main campus | Credit: LRSLAstudio

Perspective view of “The New Green,” the planned central quad at Temple University | Credit: LRSLAstudio

Yes, Temple University has a massive redesign plan in store for its main campus. But in case you missed our sneak peek from earlier in the summer, we’ll have you know the Visualize Temple Master Plan (.PDF) comes with a decidedly green and equally significant companion piece: the Verdant Temple Landscape Master Plan (.PDF).

“The landscape of a campus is critical in creating first impressions and lasting memories,” TU President Neil D. Theobald said in a press release unveiling the long-anticipated program. Per the release, Verdant Temple will focus on five interrelated components:

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Renderings: Brewerytown Blight to Open as New “Eastern Lofts” Next Year

Eastern Building via Google Streetview | Right: Rendering of Eastern Lofts

Eastern Building via Google Streetview | Right: Rendering of Eastern Lofts

It’s been a long time coming, but here it is: Eastern Lofts is set to open in early 2016.

Repurposed from the bones of the former American Railway Express Garage – otherwise known as the Eastern Building – at 3002-28 Cecil B. More Avenue (map), Eastern Lofts will breath new life to the site in the form of thirty-seven modern loft-style apartments with commercial space that includes a day care, coffee shop, and two open loft office spaces that are available for lease.

Tenants can expect to be welcomed in January, according to a project spokesperson, who added that a shared conference room will be onsite for commercial tenants.

Conceived by Gregory Reaves and partners in 2013, work officially commenced on the long-anticipated development in May 2015. Reaves, the Principal Managing Member at Mosaic Development Partners, is the owner of the site.

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Property’s Photo of the Week: Philly Can Do Spooky Without Even Trying

A photo posted by Kristen Catoe (@k10catoe) on

Given that tonight is All Hallow’s Eve, what better way than to commemorate the occasion by sharing with you five spooky – or at the very least, holiday festive – images of Philadelphia?

From a gloomy cityscape scene taken from the Parkway to a a bizzare (but still cool) shot of a stairwell at the Troc, we’re sure one of these is bound to give you the heebie-jeebies. Check’em out: Read more »

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