Morning Headlines: Wynnewood Is One of the Most Popular Suburbs for Renters

Photo credit: Google Maps.

Photo credit: Google Maps.

Last week we heard homeownership in the area had been slowing down, only to learn the next day that the apartment market in Center City was cooling as well. So where exactly are renters going? ApartmentGuide points to the the suburbs.

Despite Lower Merion Township having some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the area,’s Lauren Mennen reports the apartment-hunting website found Wynnewood to be the seventh “hottest suburb” for renters in the country after analyzing 100 of the most-searched cities between April and July. The numbers below may explain why:

According to statistics on the website, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home in Wynnewood is $1,443, which is still cheaper than two-bedroom homes Old City ($2,137), Society Hill ($2,137), Northern Liberties ($1,582), Graduate Hospital ($1,512), and Fairmount/Art Museum ($1,495).

Lower cost and taxes aside, Wynnewood has a the advantage of having a “larger concentration of apartments” compared to other areas, all while offering better schools, more shopping, easy access to Center City, and being walker-friendly for commuters.

Wynnewood named one of the ‘hottest suburbs’ for renters []

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Morning Headlines: Will Old City Finally Get Its Skyscraper?

Rendering of 205 Race Street Photo credit:

Rendering of 205 Race Street
Photo credit:

First, the Old City Civic Association was less than happy about its height. Then, complicated zoning matters stalled progress, topped off with Keystone Outdoor Advertising getting miffed because the building would block one of their billboards from view. So will this third attempt finally see a conclusion to the planned 205 Race development?

According to PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey, the Historical Commission’s architecture committee will review the latest plans for Brown Hill Development’s mixed-use project this Tuesday.

Plans include “148 rental units, 28 parking spaces, 51 bike parking spaces, and more than 14,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.” Additionally, architect Peter Gluck had addressed KOA’s cries by adjusting the building’s design to keep the billboard in view (it’s even featured in the newest renderings).

And that’s not all:

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Morning Headlines: A Northwest Philly High Line?

manayunk canal

Photo by Liz Spikol.

The Manayunk Bridge Trail Project got a Notice to Proceed from the city, meaning construction can begin. The idea is to connect the Cynwyd Heritage Trail to the Schuylkill River Trail via the Manayunk Bridge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Like many other local railroad structures, the bridge has been out of use for many years. Now it will be part of a bike/walk trail that will extend to Main Street, and even make it possible to walk from Manayunk to Lower Merion. Hopefully, this means more Philadelphians will discover the Cynwyd Heritage Trail.

There are even more heartening connections that will result:

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Morning Headlines: Apartment Market Cooling in Center City

Photo of Southstar Lofts by Laura Kicey.

Photo of Southstar Lofts by Laura Kicey.

On the heels of yesterday’s news about home ownership taking a nosedive comes a report from Delta Associates via the Philadelphia Business Journal outlining an uptick in apartment vacancies in Center City.

According to Natalie Kostelni, the report found a vacancy increase in South Jersey, the suburbs and Center City between mid-year 2013 and now. That puts vacancies in Center City at 5 percent, South Jersey at 4.5 percent and the suburbs (a coy term for a variety of areas, one must add) at 5.7 percent.

Rents, Delta found, are also taking a hit in Center City, falling 1.6 percent to $2,141. In the burbs, it’s a different story, where rates have actually gone up to an average of $1,447 a month.

All of this begs some questions about the new residential construction seemingly everywhere downtown.

With about 5,025 units under construction or on the drawing board, “Philadelphia’s supply-demand relationship indicates that vacancy will continue to edge up slightly and rent growth is likely to stay negative over the next 24 months.”

Yikes. But not to worry, Delta says. All will be well. Somehow … vaguely.

In spite of some of this initial concern about the number of units that will eventually hit the market in Philadelphia, Delta is confident that demographic trends toward renting and urban living will eventually support what ultimately gets built.

More news this way …
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Morning Headlines: Homeownership in the Far Northeast Increases, As the City’s Rate Plummets

home for sale

The city may be among the largest with high homeownership rates, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a significant fall. In a Pew report released this past Wednesday, Philadelphia was found to have a 7.1 percentage-point decline– the second-highest drop in homeownership in comparison to other major cities.

According to the Inquirer’s Alan J. Heavens, the study reports the plunge took place between 2000 and 2012, and that its main catalyst was the infamous “real estate downturn that followed the bursting of the housing bubble in 2006-07,” as well as other general recession fruits (“stagnant incomes,” “rising home prices,” and “tight credit”).

Concrete reasons for the homeownership downturn, however, are harder to come by. Pew study director Larry Eichel believes Philly had a “higher starting point in terms of homeownership, so it had further to drop,” but that there’s “no hard data on which to base a firm conclusion.”

Plus, there is that thing about student-loan debt. As Heavens puts it, “young professionals who once were the chief source of first-time buyers are either wary of homeownership or burdened by student-loan debt.” And yet, there is one section of the city that has had its homeownership go up (granted, just by 1%): Read more »

Morning Headlines: After Collapse, L&I Warns Homeowners to Check Foundations

Photo prior to collapse courtesy Google Streetview.

Photo prior to collapse courtesy Google Streetview.

The Inquirer has details on what caused Monday’s Cobbs Creek rowhouse collapse. L&I told Jason Grant that the homes at 6015 and 6017 Spruce collapsed because the foundation beneath their shared party wall had been deteriorating over decades.

The culprit, according to L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams, was a foundation that had been made of rubble stone and mortar. Modern construction relies on foundations made of continuous slabs of concrete, but older construction commonly used the same mixture found on Spruce Street.

An ominous warning about how easily deteriorated foundations can lead to structural problems:

Generally, Williams said, even one loose or missing stone in a rubble wall – which can get dislodged as mortar surrounding it gradually deteriorates to dust – may lead to a collapse.

If reading that gave you heart palpitations, Williams has a suggestion:

Williams noted Tuesday that many homes in the Northeastern United States were built with rubble stone and mortar foundations. He and L&I Emergency Services Director Scott Mulderig said anyone with turn-of-the-century or early-1900s homes should check basements at least yearly for loose or missing rubble stone; a dusty or sandlike buildup of deteriorated mortar; or water that could signal a compromised foundation or wall.

Most importantly, no one was hurt in Monday’s collapse. Grant talked to one of the homeowners who was at work when she got the news and raced home to find her two Scottish deerhounds – both safe.

A self-described pragmatist, she said, “Good things happen, bad things happen – you just hope the good ones outweigh the bad ones, but sometimes they don’t.”

More news this way …
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Realtors Behaving Badly: The Reality Show?

realtors-behaving-badlySurely you remember the story: Two realtors (pictured above) were supposed to be selling a house. Instead, they were using the house to meet up and have sex. This went on for a long time, such that the house did not sell. They were caught on camera.

The owners, who lived elsewhere while this was going on, were understandably perturbed. They were especially bothered by what they perceived as ill treatment by Coldwell Banker, the real estate company that worked with the two realtors. The couple filed a lawsuit.

Let me digress. There are two kinds of people in the world. There is the kind of person who experiences public adversity and can’t wait until the public part ends. There is the other kind of person who experiences public adversity and embraces the visibility as if they’re gunning for a reality TV show. These are just generalities. I speak of no one in particular.

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Morning Headlines: New Details on Comcast Skyscraper

Rendering of CITC. Photo courtesy of Comcast Corporate.

Rendering of CITC.
Image via Comcast Corporate.

After getting the regulatory process over three months ago, construction will soon begin on the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, a joint project between Comcast and developer Liberty Property Trust.

The future 18th and Arch tower will include a Four Seasons Hotel with 222 rooms, as well as office space for the broadcasting/cable bigwig, which, according to PBJ’s Natalie Kostelni, made some changes to its lease:

Comcast has expanded the amount of space that it will occupy. The cable giant signed a 20-years lease on 982,275 square feet, or about 74 percent of the 1.33-million-square-foot building. It had initially taken 957,000 square feet.

The 59-story structure, to-be the city’s tallest tower (and the tallest building outside of New York and Chicago), has a $933 million price tag, of which $40 million comes from public city and state funds. The latter amount “will go toward infrastructure improvements, such as extending the subway concourse.”

Comcast skyscraper construction begins; new details emerge [Business Journal]

In other news…

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Morning Headlines: PA and NJ Are in “20 Worst States to Make a Living”

The website has published research results that rank the 50 states according to a proprietary metric they call Compensation and Quality Factor pertaining to employment. It’s based on four factors:

  • Average salary, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Cost of living, based on data from C2ER.
  • Employment rate, based on BLS data.
  • Workplace conditions, based on the “Work Environment” component of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The best state for job-searching and employment quality is Washington, which has one of the highest average incomes in the country. There’s also no state income tax and workplace conditions are tops.

The worst is Hawaii, which has a very high cost of living but wages that don’t compensate.

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Breaking University City Retail News

The image used to market the space. Via LoopNet.

The image used to market the space. Via LoopNet.

The bad news: Rittenhouse’s Hello World and Wash West’s Hello Home are closing. The good news: They’re combining to open a “lifestyle” store (also called Hello World) at 3610 Sansom Street—which is right near another so-called “lifestyle” store, Urban Outfitters. Only Urban isn’t accessible via the Penn Bookstore. Do we hear the sound of tooth-gnashing at the Navy Yard?

Shoppist’s Emily Goulet spoke with the owner of both stores, who worked with Michael Salove Company on the UCity real estate deal. He gave her more great news, like the opening of another store dedicated to midcentury furniture. But I won’t say any more! Go here for all the details:

BREAKING: Hello World and Hello Home are Combining Into One Huge University City Lifestyle Store [Shoppist]

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