Who’s Building Philly: Vince Viney

There's a touch of the Levitt approach in V2 Properties' strategy: standardize to keep costs low. It enables the company to offer more in its homes than others similarly priced. You should be able to spot the V2 homes on the 700 (left) and 600 (right) blocks of Mercy Street in Dickinson Narrows. | Photos: Sandy Smith

There’s a touch of the Levitt approach in V2 Properties’ strategy: standardize to keep costs low. It enables the company to offer more in its homes than others similarly priced. You should be able to spot the V2 homes on the 700 (left) and 600 (right) blocks of Mercy Street in Dickinson Narrows. | Photos: Sandy Smith

To understand why Vince Viney builds, all you really need to know is two basic principles:

Inexpensive new homes don’t have to be cheap.

And buying them shouldn’t be a nightmare.

Put another way, Viney doesn’t want home buyers to have the experience he did when he bought his first home.

“As a homebuyer, I was tired of seeing the inferior quality and lack of craftsmanship that I saw, and the poor service, especially after delivery,” he said. “It was the acceptable standard, but it was an acceptably bad standard.”

Viney, 45, grew up in Kensington’s Harrowgate section, a largely blue-collar neighborhood. When he was coming of age, success meant a house in the suburbs, and he followed that path to a new construction home in Collegeville, which he purchased in 1995. Read more »

It’s Hip to be Square on Avenue 30

The Avenue 30 development. | Rendering: KJO Architecture via The Riverwards Group and The Somers Team

The Avenue 30 development. | Renderings: KJO Architecture via The Riverwards Group and The Somers Team

There have been all sorts of attempts to solve the central problem of the Philadelphia row house, namely, the need to fit it into a long lot with narrow street frontage.

Over the years, these attempts have produced such distinctive features as incredibly small middle bedrooms and squarish houses with nonexistent back yards.

Fishtown-based developers The Riverwards Group faced just such a problem when they got their hands on a 300-foot-long, 110-foot-deep on Amber Street in East Kensington. The aim was to produce a large townhouse development with luxurious yet reasonably priced homes.

Their solution: Go wide, which is what they did with the new Avenue 30 development. Read more »

Tax Abatement Huge Shot in Arm for City, Study Finds

The 10-year tax abatement program has led to an explosion of new housing in the city, much of it at the lower end of the market, a BIA study finds. And when the abatements expire, the city's balance sheet will be better off for it.

The 10-year tax abatement program has led to an explosion of new housing in the city, much of it at the lower end of the market, a BIA study finds. And when the abatements expire, the city’s balance sheet will be better off for it.

Consider the 10-year property tax abatements on new construction and rehabilitation a down payment on a future gusher in revenue for the city thanks to the huge jump in construction activity it has triggered, argues a study released in late March by the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia.

The abatement, which freezes property taxes on improvements to commercial and residential property in the city for 10 years from completion, has completely reversed the trendlines for new construction activity in the city compared to its suburbs, states the BIA report, “Philadelphia’s 10-Year Property Tax Abatement” (PDF). Since its implementation in 2000, new home building in the city has increased by 376 percent, while in the suburbs, it has fallen 11.25 percent on average across the four collar counties.

That means a future flood of revenues into city coffers. Read more »

Another Living Option Coming to King of Prussia’s Main Street

The new AVE flexible-stay residence under construction at the Village at Valley Forge in King of Prussia. | Rendering: Courtesy Bernardon

The new AVE flexible-stay residence under construction at the Village at Valley Forge in King of Prussia. | Rendering: Courtesy Bernardon

By this time next year, new arrivals in King of Prussia will have a place to test the waters before they decide to commit to living there. So will those whose work brings them to the area for an extended spell as well as those who simply prefer renting to owning in general.

That’s because Korman Communities is opening its next AVE flexible-stay residence in the Village at Valley Forge in the winter of 2017-18. Work on the facility, designed by Bernardon of Kennett Square, Philadelphia and Wilmington, is already under way.

Read more »

Westside Story: New Apartments on the (Cutting) Edge of Phoenixville

The retail portion of the Westside development, under construction on Phoenixville's west edge. | Photos and renderings courtesy Scully Company

The retail portion of the Westside development, under construction on Phoenixville’s west edge. | Photos and renderings courtesy Scully Company

Another old industrial community with strong bones hereabouts is Phoenixville. This former steel mill town has lately seen a surge of interest in its charming, walkable downtown, anchored by the Colonial Theater, the movie house featured in the cult-fave horror B-movie “The Blob.” New apartment buildings offer residents young and old alike the chance to live in the heart of it all.

But maybe you want to have convenient access to the heart of it all yet get away from it when you want. Berwyn-based Longview Property Group is working on your answer right now. Read more »

More Community-Building in Brewerytown, Starting at $425K

Brewers Mill Townhomes | Renderings: Cadre Design via Agent PHL

Brewers Mill Townhomes | Renderings: Cadre Design via Agent PHL

Last week, we showcased the one-home-at-a-time approach to transforming a rundown block with our Hard Hat Tour of 1423 N. Myrtlewood St. in Brewerytown.

This week, we have an example of the package-deal approach: the Brewers Mill Townhomes project on the 1400 block of North 28th Street, a block and a half to the east.

This development from Argo Property Group is also an infill project, consisting at the outset of nine brand-new townhomes designed by Cadre Design of Manayunk. The homes are scattered throughout a block of a street that, like Myrtlewood, currently consists of some occupied homes, some vacant ones and some empty lots. Read more »

500 Walnut: Can You Top This?

"Thomas Jefferson" welcomes invitees to today's 500 Walnut topping-off ceremony and introduces developer Tom Scannapieco, to his left. Also on the podium, from left to right: Mayor Jim Kenney, architect Cecil Baker, Intech Construction President Will Schwartz and ULLICO Regional Manager Matthew Downs. | Photos: Sandy Smith; renderings: Cecil Baker + Partners via Scannapieco Development

“Thomas Jefferson” welcomes invitees to today’s 500 Walnut topping-off ceremony and introduces developer Tom Scannapieco, to his left. Also on the podium, from left to right: Mayor Jim Kenney, architect Cecil Baker, Intech Construction President Will Schwartz and ULLICO Regional Manager Matthew Downs. | Photos: Sandy Smith; renderings: Cecil Baker + Partners via Scannapieco Development

Is Tom Scannapieco a revolutionary?

“Thomas Jefferson” apparently thinks so, for today’s lunchtime ceremony marking the formal topping-off of Scannapieco Development Corporation’s latest luxury condo tower, 500 Walnut, opened with a character actor playing the Sage of Monticello praising Tom’s vision and boldness.

And there’s no denying that the Cecil Baker + Partners-designed tower makes a bold statement on its site across Walnut Street from Independence Hall.

We’ll get to the ways it does that, and the clever magic trick Baker pulled off, in a bit. But first, some facts and figures: Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: Vue32, the Building

Vue32 offers many amenities, but this is the one management's counting on to wow the tenants. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Vue32 offers many amenities, but this is the one management’s counting on to wow the tenants. | Photos: Sandy Smith

When we checked out the Vue32 project ten months ago, it was only barely rising from a hole in the ground.

It’s progressed quite nicely since then, and its developer, Radnor Property Group (RPG), expects to open the first element of the mixed-use tower — a day care facility and preschool on its first two floors — sometime around the end of next month.

And so it was that construction crews from general contractor TN Ward Company were all over the site when we visited yesterday, sprinting to finish the various pieces of this complex.

Actually, several of the apartment floors were closer to completion than the day care center was, probably so Vue32 property manager Bozzuto Management Group could show prospective tenants the actual spaces they could call home starting Real Soon Now. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: 1423 N. Myrtlewood Street

The three-story house under construction on the right is the shape of things to come on North Myrtlewood Street. | Photos: Sandy Smith

The three-story house under construction on the right is the shape of things to come on North Myrtlewood Street. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Most of the news you read on real estate and development sites like this one focuses on multi-unit projects that often take up the entire side of a block, or even a whole block.

That’s one way to effect the transformation of a community. But there’s another: One house here, another there, then another over there. Before you know it, builders working in this fashion can reshape an entire neighborhood, especially when their own projects encourage others to invest in the neighborhood as well by either building new or fixing up the homes they already own.

And so it was that we paid a visit to a single solitary brand-new house under construction on the 1400 block of North Myrtlewood Street in Brewerytown. Read more »

Big Shot in Arm Proposed for North Philly

A view of the proposed North Station District development's first phase. | Rendering: Spagnolo Group Architecture

A view of the proposed North Station District development’s first phase. | Rendering: Spagnolo Group Architecture

A group of New York real estate investors has been working quietly behind the scenes to assemble land for a project that would be truly transformative for North Philadelphia.

As of last Saturday, their project has come out of the shadows.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported March 18th that an investment syndicate led by HFZ Capital Group plans to build two new mixed-use buildings and renovate a third on land it has acquired around North Philadelphia Amtrak station. Read more »

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