Green Roof Incentive Bill Gets Thumbs Up From Council

A photo posted by katep629 (@katep629) on

The newly opened Cira Green in University City sits atop a parking garage between the FMC Tower and evo apartment building like some sort of amazing proto-Jetsonian green space – and we’re dying to pay it a visit. At least, that’s how the photos (one of them included above) taken at the new public roof-top park make us feel.

What’s more, it has both built-in blue roof and green roof systems, which means stormwater management and grass and other greenery, respectively, will help reduce at least some of the negative environmental impact the buildings have. Managed stormwater runoff, for example, helps alleviate some of the pollution that enters our waterways.

As you can see, green roofs can be pretty beneficial, which is why it should come as little surprise that City Council’s Committee on Rules recently voted in favor of approving a bill that encourages developers building within RM-1, CMX-2, and CMX-2.5 districts to include them in their projects. Huzzah!

Introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the bill would allow developers to build more than previously approved units within these designated zoning districts if – and only if – they include approved green roofs. Sayeth PlanPhilly:

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Beyond 500 Walnut: Scannapieco Plans Second “Ultra-Luxury” Enclave in New Hope

Here's the setup of the Residences at Rabbit Run Creek | via Scannapieco Development Corporation

Here’s the setup of the Residences at Rabbit Run Creek | via Scannapieco Development Corporation

500 Walnut isn’t yet out of the ground and Tom Scannapieco, president and CEO of Scannapieco Development Corporation, already has his sights on his next project, and it’s one that will bring him “full circle,” so to speak.

That’s right, the ultra-luxury developer is going back to New Hope in Bucks County, and this time it’s in the form of a 37-unit townhome project called The Residences at Rabbit Run Creek.

According to a recent press release, site work is already underway and phase one, which include the first 10 homes (including a model), will open sometime in “late spring 2016.” If you’re keeping score at home, that’s almost a full year before 500 Walnut opens its doors to high-end (and possibly the highest-of-end) buyers in the Philadelphia marketplace.

The 23-acre plot of land is located entirely in New Hope near the lower field at Pat Livezey Park, but it directly borders Solebury Township. Reports began to circulate in late August that site work was starting to take place, and a notice for rock blasting went out beginning in early September, according to Charlie Sahner of New Hope Free Press.

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Someone Has Bought Dana Spain’s Mediterranean Villa Home in South Philly

TREND photos via Redfin

TREND photos via Redfin

Holy moly, the day has finally come: someone has bought that mysterious manse at Fitzwater and Marshall Streets in Bella Vista.

But hold on a second there, reader. If you’ve been following along on Property, or have been one of the lucky people fortunate enough to have been invited to step foot inside the Mediterranean villa-inspired home, you’ve known exactly who’s lived there for the past few years: local developer and branding queen – not to mention Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society founder and former Philadelphia Style COO and would-be mayoral candidate – Dana Spain.

The Philly business maven originally listed her South Philly property early last year for a whopping $4.25 million. This past April, it was reduced to $3.75 million and, now, we’ve gotten word that the home got a third price cut, which eventually led to its purchase in a deal that closed on Friday.

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New Wave: Jumpstart Germantown’s Developer Mentorship Program off to Great Start

A man works inside a home on Boyer Street in Germantown | via Ken Weinstein

A man works inside a home on Boyer Street in Germantown | Images via Ken Weinstein

It’s been about eight months since we’ve checked in with developer Ken Weinstein regarding the Jumpstart Germantown program, an incubator of sorts for people looking to get their foot in the door of real estate development. Typically, we’re asking him about his various workings in private development through his company Philly Office Retail, but the success of the mentorship program has really started to take hold and make an impact.

“What’s really hit me about the program is how much pent up demand there is for people who want to be in economic development,” said Weinstein. He added that he wants to take that demand from mere “coffee table talk” to a reality.

Though it may not be one of the booming neighborhoods that ring Center City, Germantown is one of the most affordable (and historic) places in the city. Getting into town and around the region is a relative breeze, as it offers great access to nearby highways, two train lines and multiple bus routes. The neighborhood has a lot going for it, including a spruced up Vernon Park, a growing business district, and plenty of opportunity for those looking to responsibly redevelop the aging or vacant housing stock, an area in the neighborhood that’s in desperate need of reinvestment.

“Of all the things we’ve done in the last 10 years, Jumpstart Germantowwn is one of our most exciting projects,” beamed Weinstein, who administers the growing program with one other Philly Office Retail staffer. “It will have more impact than most anything else we’ve worked on.”

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Venice Island Transformation Receives 2015 Groundbreaker Award

Image via Buell Kratzer Powell

Image via Buell Kratzer Powell

Seems like yesterday that the Venice Island Performing Arts Center in Manayunk had its grand unveiling. Point in fact, it and its surrounding renewal, which involved infrastructure, landscape design, stormwater management improvements, were opened to the public just over a year ago. And now, believe it or not, the results continue to be sung praises.

Its latest prize? The 2015 Groundbreaker Award from the Delaware Valley Green Building Council.

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Property’s Photo of the Week: You’ve Got to Have Guts to Clean Certain Philly Windows

A photo posted by Robert Mann (@rcmannjr) on

We’ve got to hand it to Philadelphia’s window washers and façade restorers. ‘Cause honestly? There is no way we’d accept getting assigned a spot that high up a high-rise if we’re not going to be, you know, inside the building. But that’s just us. (Unlike our Heath & Fitness editor.)

The guys sprucing up One Liberty Place a few days ago, pictured here in a neat capture by Robert Mann (@rcmannjr on Instagram), have especially earned our awe, what with the mechanisms holding them up appearing to be a scarier version of the already intimidating (to us) bosun chair. Anyone know what the ones in the photo are called?

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Excitement Over Possible Fox Chase Lorimer Trail Grows in Northeast Philly

The proposed Fox Chase Lorimer Trail would run from the defunct rail bed across from Fox Chase Station in Northeast Philadelphia to the Pennypack Park Trail | Image via Google Earth | Click to enlarge

The proposed Fox Chase Lorimer Trail would run through the former rail bed across from Fox Chase Station in Northeast Philadelphia to Montgomery County’s Lorimer Trail. | Image via Google Earth

As it turns out, Bridesburg isn’t the only Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood getting to earnestly explore the viability of a new community green space. Further up the Great Northeast, Fox Chase has inched its way a tad closer to getting a long-desired amenity that’s been in talks for some time: the Fox Chase Lorimer Trail.

“We want to hear your ideas and we want to make sure this is okay with you before we go for funding,” explained Jeannette Brugger, Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator at the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities, during a Tuesday feasibility study meeting with Fox Chase residents. Much like the Bridesburg waterfront park project, the proposed FCL trail is still in the wee early stages of concept development, so it isn’t necessarily something that’s going to “happen next week or even next year.”

Should it come to fruition, however, the approximately half-mile trail would be a promising neighborhood amenity indeed. Extending from the start of the defunct Fox Chase-Newtown Line rail-bed (across from the Fox Chase Regional Rail Station) to Lorimer Trail in Montgomery County, which in turn links to the Pennypack Trail, the proposed FCL trail would be part of the Circuit Trail Network, a 750-mile regional trail system that connects Philadelphia to surrounding suburban and rural communities.

Currently, the Circuit Trail Network has about 350 miles built already and 50 miles in progress, said Chris Stanford, an engineering consultant from Michael Baker International, who is working with the feasibility study team. “There’s a goal to build another 400 miles on top of it,” he added. “This portion of the path could really connect a lot of different pieces for the neighborhood.”

Connectivity aside, the proposed trail could boost Fox Chase in other ways too.

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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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Chinatown’s Eastern Tower Gets Groundbreaking Pushed to 2016 (Renderings)

Some things are worth the wait and Chinatown‘s long-discussed Eastern Tower is undoubtedly one of them. However, should things progress without a hitch, the wait for the long-planned 20-story building at 10th and Vine (map) could come to an end by next year.

Although we reported last year that the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, the project’s developer, was looking to break ground this fall, Flying Kite Media now says that’s been pushed back for financial reasons, though not of the strapped kind:

“We had initially thought that we wanted to break ground in the beginning of [2015], but we actually spent the bulk of this year strengthening our position financially,” explains [Sarah] Yeung. The last several months have brought significant contributions from PECO and Comcast, as major public and private funders took notice of the project’s traction.

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Something Might Be Happening With the Frankford Chocolate Factory

The Frankford Chocolate Factory on Washington Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets | Image via Google Earth

The Frankford Chocolate Factory on Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia | Image via Google Earth

Oh, snap. The Frankford Chocolate Factory on Washington Avenue – between 21st and 22nd Streets if you’re unfamiliar with the site (map) – has been purchased. According to Jacob Adelman at the Inquirer, a mixed-use project is rumored to be in the works.

Although there’s no official word yet on whether or not the the 240,682-square-foot building, which is well over a century old and not historically designated, will be demolished or reused, it goes without saying that a residential/commercial development at the site would do more than a little to boost the evolving industrial corridor it sits on. Writes Adelman:

The Frankford Chocolate property’s redevelopment would provide a conduit for revitalization from the increasingly affluent Graduate Hospital area into the Point Breeze neighborhood to its south, said [CBRE executive Robert] Fahey, whose company represented a court-appointed receiver charged with selling the site.

“It’s going to have a pretty big impact on the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s just been a major blight, this dilapidated, boarded-up hulk of a building surrounded by gentrification.”

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