Option A: You buy a 960 square foot retail space at 1614 Spruce Street which may or may not continue as Margarita’s Beauty Salon. Option B: You purchase a five-bedroom home with private garage parking and a jaw-dropping roofdeck at 304 S. Smedley. Option C: You wind up with A and B because they both comprise the same property. Whomever buys this Rittenhouse Square mixed-use property will have some decisions to make.
If Theophilus P. Chandler were of this generation, he would be what we call “a game-changer.” Unfortunately, he died in 1928. But as founder and president of the American Institute of Architect’s Philadelphia chapter and founder and director of the University of Penn’s Department of Architecture, Chandler was a significant force who elevated the role of architecture in the city’s psyche during the late 1800s.
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If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, you don’t want to be unprepared in this seller’s market. Housing prices have risen over the past year and the inventory has dropped significantly, so Realtors Jennifer Grosskopf and Barbara Mandel at Coldwell Banker Preferred offer their advice so you’re not bombarded by the competition.
Among the charms of living in this greene country towne you can count streets nearly narrow enough to touch both sides simultaneously and the occasional carriage house remaining in a row of homes. This darling property on Kater boasts both and also includes a garage big enough for three-car piggyback parking in case you need a little more than colonial delights.
Above the cavernous garage is a loft-like living space with with exposed bricks, refinished pine floors and high wood-beam ceilings. The space has two large skylights and several windows that help break it up into separate areas. The single bathroom features a custom industrial sink and a very cool restored door. The kitchen is situated in the middle, open to the living and dining areas. And there is a wall of closets for the sleeping area in the back.
The luxury will come at a cost – this property is listed at a cool $5 million – but it’s about time that city residents are offered the same perk so many hotel guests regularly receive: a direct view of Independence Hall. Adjacent (and connected) to the Omni Hotel, The Bank Building was built in 1857 to serve as the headquarters of the Philadelphia National Bank. What once stood as Banker’s Row is now a boutique condo building combining 19th century grandeur with the Omni’s concierge-level services.
This property is listed as raw space, which means the buyer will be on the hook for construction costs, but the buyer will also be free to customize the home to his or her exact specifications. A pretty rare deal for such new construction among history. As it stands now, the space includes high ceilings, exposed brick walls, wall-sized windows and a private wrap-around terrace with Chestnut Street and Center City skyline views.
This Lindal Cedar home on Conestoga Road is about as green as it gets — and in some intriguing ways. For instance, the railings are made, in part, of the pipes and wood from a 400-year-old church organ. And recovered iron from the very historic Morris Steel Company was used as a building material.
As is obvious from all those windows, the home is optimized for solar panels, but the sun will heat and light things even without. The listing also notes “radiant flooring to optimize expenses in the basement” and “European designed AC high velocity delivery” as well as seven ceiling fans and a fireplace on every floor.
Perhaps it’s fitting that renderings of this new construction on Third Street should appear on real estate websites around the time of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s death, when so many are talking about magical realism. These remind me of fantasist animator Hayao Miyazaki too, particularly the night view, which is in a dark rain. You don’t see that too often — usually an exterior night view in a rendering has a building shimmering like a golden palace atop a hill of diamonds. Sparkly and pretty.
One image of the homes recalls the Mario Brothers circa Atari, with bright green levels that make me want to break out the eighth-grade joystick.
Let’s count the ways we can tell this contemporary Chestnut Hill home was owned by a designer:
- There is a cut-out in the courtyard, allowing a tree to grow unimpeded
- Sleek, clean lines combined with midcentury modern furniture everywhere
- Dramatic light fixtures
The listing tells us this home underwent “significant cosmetic and mechanical improvements” while designers owned the home. We assume they include the magnificent kitchen, which features custom cabinetry, Durat countertops, cork flooring and luxury appliances. While everything in this home looks professionally decorated and designed, it may be most readily apparent in what we assume is the master bath. The spa-like atmosphere is emphasized with an oversized soaking tub that looks like something straight out of a Rescue Rittenouse dream.
Outside, the property has been designed just as thoughtfully. The central terrace boasts a built-in grill station, a fire pit and a dining area. A second flagstone patio also provides views of the grounds. The landscaped property also includes an attached two-car garage and a shed as well as a custom-made treehouse.
A sizable four-bedroom townhome on 22nd Street between Walnut and Locust has been listed for $1.85 million, and one highlighted feature is the architect: Frank Furness. Well, to be precise, the house was “attributed to Frank Furness,” according to the listing. But did Furness design it?
The association makes sense. The house sits directly across the street from the definitely Furness-designed Morton Henry house. But we didn’t find any documentation confirming that Furness also designed this one, even in “Frank Furness: The Complete Works.” So we asked George E. Thomas, the book’s lead author and an architectural historian who teaches at Penn, about it.