New Narberth Avenue Bridge to Feature Site-Specific Art Installations

The artistic element will be installed in the long yellow strip | Design: VSBA/Narberth Borough

The artistic element will be installed in the long yellow strip | Design: VSBA/Narberth Borough

Narberth Borough has put out a request for qualification (RFQ) for “an artist to create a site-specific, integrated artistic enhancement in conjunction with the construction of the new Narberth Avenue bridge,” according to its website.

The bridge has reached the end of its useful life and to show how important the look of this span is to the borough, they’ve brought in Venturi Scott Brown (VSBA) to assist Pennoni Engineers in its design. “We envisioned the bridge both as a connector between the downtown and residential neighborhood and as a gateway between them — as well as an opportunity to enhance the borough’s identity,” according to the project description on VSBA’s website.

On top of that, Narberth wants this project to stand out and harken back to a time when infrastructure projects were a big deal:

“The hope is that the project can draw inspiration from the time when infrastructure was a matter of civic pride and when ornamentation was considered an integral part of building projects, to commemorate or communicate important civic concepts or narratives.”

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It’s Official: Developer Sets Groundbreaking Date for 205 Race Project

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.25.40 PM

205 Race/The Bridge, looking west | Rendering: Volley Studio

Earlier this week, we put you onto to the news that construction permits were granted for the 205 Race project in Old City. At the time, no groundbreaking had been set in stone, but we had heard that an announcement was forthcoming. Fast forward a few days and a rep from the project has confirmed that a groundbreaking is now scheduled for August 5 at the site.

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Schuylkill River Trail Named Best Urban Trail in the Nation

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

America has spoken: Philly’s mighty Schuylkill River Trail has been named the Best Urban Trail in America in USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice poll.

It was a formidable field, including San Antonio’s famed River Walk and Mission Trail, but the gleaming paths of the Schuylkill River Trail took the top spot over 19 other scenic trails. “We are thrilled that the Schuylkill River Trail has taken the number one spot,” said Joseph Syrnick, president and CEO of Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC), in a press release. “Certainly, we have seen the trail become more and more popular, and this honor validates the hard work and investment made by many entities.”

The 20 contestants were chosen by a panel of experts and eventually whittled down to 10 by readers’ votes. Here’s the final ranking:

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Pearl Properties Reportedly Buys Lululemon Building on Walnut Street

Photo via Lululemon/Facebook

The building at 1527 Walnut Street | Photo via Lululemon/Facebook

It looks as though Pearl Properties will continue to up its holdings within the heart and soul of Center City. This time, the real estate company has reportedly purchased the building at 1527 Walnut Street. You might know it as the former Lululemon storefront where, in February, loose bricks from an adjacent building at 1529 Walnut Street, a property owned by Pearl, crashed through the roof, injuring three shoppers and resulting in the closure of the store.

Lululemon has since moved to a temporary storefront down the street at 1422 Walnut Street, and Natalie Kostelni of the Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the issues at 1527 Walnut hasn’t deterred Pearl Properties from shelling out $10.5 million for the 3,415-square-foot store. Why? Insiders anticipate the developer will eventually take advantage of the prime location–and its air rights–to build up at the site of the low-slung, one-story building.

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Tacony Named “Great Neighborhood” Winner by American Planning Association

Photo courtesy of Eric Horvath

Photo courtesy of Eric Horvath

“Will people finally notice Tacony?” was a question posed right here on Property many, many moons ago (about a month or so after the blog was started, actually). It wasn’t meant to snub, but was, rather, a sincere query in the wake of a surging neighborhood revitalization effort made by the Tacony Community Development Corporation with other local groups.

More recently, Tacony CDC Corridor Manager Alex Balloon took to the Historic Tacony Revitalization Project blog in January to make known the slew of projects slated to improve the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood. And boy, are those efforts noticed now!

See, the American Planning Association, Pennsylvania Chapter has announced this year’s winners of its Great Places awards, honors bestowed on a select number of “unique, memorable places” in the categories of “Great Neighborhoods” and “Great Public Spaces.” Tacony is one of two “Great Neighborhoods” winners, meaning it has been shown to have “exemplary character, quality, planning, identity, cultural interest, and community involvement with a sustainable vision for tomorrow.” You can see the rest of the winners here.

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Divine Lorraine Update: Four “Vetri-Caliber” Restaurants Planned

Photo: Jeff Fusco

Photo: Jeff Fusco

It’s not a dream, people. The long-planned transformation of the Divine Lorraine Hotel into a luxury apartment building starting to become a reality. It’s now fully funded and Chris Cordaro, vice president with EB Realty Management (EBRM), has let us in on some tantalizing tidbits of information regarding the mother of all redevelopment projects, as well as a few others EBRM properties.

Though Billy Procida, the investor behind the project, said that construction could start on the Divine Lorraine by the end of July, Cordaro tells us they’re currently planning a groundbreaking event of sorts at the site, “probably in early August.”

As you know, New York-based developer RAL is planning a large scale apartment tower/grocery store directly next to the Divine Lorraine on Ridge Avenue. Cordaro said the the two groups have been collaborating closely to make sure the buildings work with each other. As such, a shared green wall will be erected alongside the “Garden Veranda” level of the Divine Lorraine.

That brings us to the retail portion of the project. Cordaro mentioned that they’ve identified restaurateurs for the commercial space, which will now be four new restaurant concepts “of the Vetri-caliber” and not high end retailers.

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Headlines: Planning Commission Greenlights North 5th Street Projects

5th and Fairmount | via Phila.gov

5th and Fairmount | via Phila.gov

Two large residential projects on North 5th Street received the blessing of the Planning Commission this week, reports Jared Brey of PlanPhilly.

U.S. Construction is developing 43-units at 5th and Fairmount. The project will also include a corner retail space and a green central courtyard. John Farina, developer/builder with U.S. Construction told us in June that they could start construction as early as August. Brey reports the project will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on July 29th, as a variance is needed for multi-family use.

The Planning Commission also considered a 23-building, 45-unit project on 5th and Thompson Street. Similar to the 5th and Fairmount development, plans include a corner retail space, but also a community dog park on Orkney Street. Brey notes that developer Sean Frankel addressed some feedback heard during Civic Design Review process, “[Frankel] had the layout reorganized so that all the living quarters are above grade. In addition, the developer added landscaping elements to the parking area to meet the 10-percent requirement of the zoning code.”

More Real Estate (and Ramen) Headlines:

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The Latest Word on Market Street West

Could Market Street West really be waking up? We said it last week, and now the Inquirer’s latest article on the the Murano, the 43-story condo tower at 2101 Market, is driving the thought even further by saying it’s the living manifestation of the change.

First, though, an update on the tract of Market Street land newly acquired by Brandywine Realty Trust: we now know how much it cost. According to Inky’s Jacob Adelman, city documents show Brandywine paid up $16.6 million for the 37,000-square-foot plot. As we told you previously, the site is on the 2100 block’s southern side near the planned June 5th Memorial Park. Whatever they have planned for the spot, we’ll keep you posted.

But back to “West Market Street Rising” news: Alan J. Heavens reports the Murano, a high-rise completed back in 2008 for a total sum of $165 million, could be the true-life embodiment of “the Center City condo market’s turnaround.” From the Inquirer:

Next month, the last of the Murano’s 302 original units will go to settlement – a milestone that local real estate observers consider not only a measure of market strength but a 180-degree turnaround in the perception of the viability of that Market Street West.

“The area between 20th Street and the Schuylkill River is clearly filling in the dead zones with new residential and mixed-use projects,” said developer Carl Dranoff.

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Headlines: Where Does Philly Rank for First Time Home Buyers?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the state of the real estate market in Philadelphia. We know that home sales are up across the board in the Second Quarter (good news), but overall, how does Philly stack up to other cities when it comes to the all-important first time home buyer?

A new report from personal finance website WalletHub shows Philly sits smack dab in the middle of the pack at number 31 of a list of 62  “large cities” (over 300,000 people), clustered with a group that includes New Orleans (29), Minneapolis (30), San Antonio (32) and San Diego (33). For what it’s worth, Pittsburgh, with its population around 305,000 people, is ranked 8th on the list of large cities

However, for those first time home buyers looking to live in one of the most populous cities in the the United States, Philly is among the best. Only Houston (15) ranks higher on the list.

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Is Construction About to Kick Off at 205 Race in Old City?

The lot at 205 Race as of June 2014 | Google Street View

The lot at 205 Race as of June 2014 | Google Street View

The long and winding road of the 205 Race development in Old City looks as though it’s about to reach an important milestone. You might even call it groundbreaking (pun intended).

After years of planning, controversy and multiple design tweaks, construction permits were recently posted on the site at 2nd and Race, the longtime home of a surface parking lot.

The permits provide a glimpse of what exactly is to come–a 17-story building with parking in the basement level, a retail space on the ground floor and 146 “dwelling units.” We haven’t heard an exact date for the groundbreaking, only that one is currently being planned.

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