Morning Headlines: The Wall Street Journal Profiles Toll Brothers’ ‘Foxcatcher’ Project

The Carriage Barn at Liseter | Photo: Toll Bros.

The Carriage Barn at Liseter | Photo: Toll Bros.

The Philadelphia area has gotten a lot of national attention recently. Hot on the heels of the New York Times’ travel list and Conde Nast ranking Philly super-high in the global shopping sphere, The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the former site of John du Pont’s mansion at Foxcatcher Farms in Newtown Square–the place where du Pont murdered wrestler David Schultz and the setting for the movie ‘Foxcatcher’ starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carrell.

It’s also the site of the latest project from nearby Toll Brothers, who is transforming the over 200-acre site into their latest “luxury development” called Liseter. While they’ve already sold 123 of the upcoming 449 homes, The Wall Street Journal is paying particular attention to the restored carriage barn, the prior home to award-winning thoroughbreds:

A newly restored carriage barn, with a soaring foyer and large stone fireplace, is the centerpiece of a communal area that includes a fitness center, outdoor pool, tennis courts and a separate recreation center.

Toll Brothers originally planned to tear down the two silos on the barn, but designer Mary Cook, president of Mary Cook Associated in Chicago, made one into an entranceway and found creative ways to reuse original materials to transform the barn into a $4.5M club with a retractable wall providing views of the estate:

Old wooden partitions between horse stalls became wainscoting. A barn door became a sliding door to a conference room. A stone wall is now the backdrop to a lavish bar. An old tack trunk is now an end table. Ms. Cook discovered more than 1,000 ribbons from prizewinning horses and framed several hundred.

The story also states that Toll Brothers hasn’t “shied away” from the notorious past of the property and, in turn, that hasn’t kept buyers away, either.

• Du Pont Estate Remade With Luxury Homes [Wall Street Journal]

More on the DNC and other Philly area headlines

And Delaware Station Goes To … Bart Blatstein?

Delaware Station | Photo: James Jennings

Delaware Station | Photo: James Jennings

The future of the hulking Delaware Station looks like it’s about to get interesting. Joe DiStefano of The Inquirer reports that Bart Blatstein has “signed a contract with Exelon Corp.” to buy the iconic site adjacent to Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown. Blatstein, whose post-casino plans also include a mixed-use tower at the vacant lot at Broad and Washington, has partnered with caterer Joseph Volpe on the deal. Volpe owns Cescaphe Event Group, which took over and renovated the Down Town Club at the Public Ledger building in 2013.

The deal would include the station, 1,000 feet of Delaware River waterfront and the pier. So, what does he have in mind for the space?

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Morning Headlines: Far Northeast Loses Historic Centuries-Old Home (VIDEO)

A blow to historical preservationists in the Northeast: the Stokes House at 2976 Welsh Road was demolished on January 5th. A 12-home twin house development is set to replace it.

According to William Kenny at the Northeast Times, the Millbrook Society’s history of the property shows the Federal-style stone farmhouse dated back to the 1800s, while the property itself has deeds that go as far back as 1747. Prior to that, it had been a plantation estate belonging to Thomas Holme, William Penn’s surveyor, who bequeathed it to his freed slaves after his death in 1695.

Efforts to save the structure were hindered, Kenny writes, due to its long-time owners, the Stokes family, never trying to get it historically designated. Saving the home was made even more difficult for the fact that, as Northeast historian Fred Moore put it,  “no one famous lived there.” Kenney then reports that in 2010, after having given the home two significant renovations to speak of, Stokes Jr. “told the Holme Circle Civic Association that the home was again in disrepair and that restoration would not be cost-effective.”

Click here to see the video of the demoltion (and other headlines!)

LOVE Park’s Redesign Is Moving Into the Design Phase

Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA™

Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA™

Do you want to learn more about the future of JFK Plaza/LOVE Park? A meeting will be held on January 20 to conclude the civic engagement process and review the upcoming project schedule, according to a recent announcement from PennPraxis.

Hargreaves Associates–you’ve heard of them before–will be in the house to introduce themselves and share their approach for the project. A previous public meeting was held on December 10 at the Free Library and those in attendance, over 200 people, expressed their wishes for greater seating, better lighting, more greenery and more space for food trucks. According to the recap of the meeting, attendees also spoke of wanting the space to be more versatile and flexible for events and programming–which sounds an awful lot like nearby Sister Cities Dilworth Park.

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Renovation Planned for Two Blighted Eyesores in Old City

Photo via Google Street View.

Photo via Google Street View.

A ray of hope from Hidden City’s Ryan Briggs today: The buildings at 223 and 225 Chestnut, two sister structures that have been slowly falling apart for the last few years, are to be redeveloped by its newest owners:

“We hope the reconstruction work will begin later this year. There are still some plans, permits and approvals to be secured,” said [Ross] Goldberg. “There are two tenants. The First Church of Christ Scientist will be occupying the first floor and an office tenant on floors two through four.”

Goldberg is the president of Posel Managment, the firm that purchased the site from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation who acquired the property in 2013 after years of “attempting to seize the buildings through sheriff sale.”

The buildings’ architectural features will be preserved, however…

Renovations at the Curtis Center to Begin This Spring

The Curtis Center seen from the corner of  6th and Walnut. Image via Google Maps.

The Curtis Center seen from the corner of 6th and Walnut. Image via Google Maps.

Renovations at the historic Curtis Center will kick off this spring. According to The Inquirer, phase one will include the construction of 55 luxury apartments on the 6th Street and Walnut Street sides of the building–taking advantage of views overlooking Independence Hall and Washington Square.

Keystone Property Group and Mack-Cali Realty Corp. purchased the building, built by Cyrus Curtis in 1910, for $125M and Keystone’s development director Jennifer Cooperman seeks to “create a vibrant pedestrian experience” by shifting the property from office and event space to a mixed-use destination.

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Changes on the Way to Stephen Starr’s Commissary Building on North Broad

EBRM's Studebaker Building project. Photo: James Jennings

EBRM’s Studebaker Building project. Photo: James Jennings

Another day, another development on North Broad Street that involves developer Eric Blumenfeld. No, it’s not about Mural Arts Lofts, the Divine Lorraine Hotel project or even The Met. This time EB Realty Management (EBRM) has their collective sights set on the multi-color building at 667 North Broad Street, the home of Stephen Starr’s commissary.

Chris Cordaro, Executive Director with EBRM said plans to redevelop the building are “in our pipeline” and the site has “very developable space.” In a project they’re calling the Studebaker Building–Cordaro tells us it was formerly a showroom back in the day–plans are to keep Stephen Starr’s commissary in place and expand his office and storage space. 20 apartment units will be added to the building and the site will be anchored by three commercial tenants.

How does New Orleans factor into this?

Philly Places Third on New York Times’ Big List of 2015 Travel Destinations

Spruce Street Harbor Park | Photo by Matt Stanley

Spruce Street Harbor Park | Photo by Matt Stanley

The New York Times released a ranking of “52 Places to Go in 2015″ today and there’s a pleasant surprise that should make you smile from ear-to-ear: Philly is ranked third in the entire world just behind Milan and Cuba and tops in the United States, edging out Yellowstone National Park at number four.

It’s a glitzy list that includes a mesmerizing animated GIF of the scenes from the new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. So, what makes Philly the place to be in 2015?

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Construction on Eric Blumenfeld’s Mural Arts Lofts Project Will Begin in February

The future site of Mural Arts Lofts, photo: James Jennings

The future site of Mural Arts Lofts, photo: James Jennings

Eric Blumenfeld’s transformation of North Broad Street is about to add another point on the map: the former Thaddeus Stevens School at Broad and Spring Garden Street. 

In a tip of the cap to Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program, the development will now be called Mural Arts Lofts and consist of 56 loft-style apartments that seek to reuse the existing elements found in the school. Each unit will have the original chalkboards and built-in cabinets and the hardwood floors will also be restored in the process.

Thanks to a $16.2 million development budget–a figure that includes the purchase of the property–construction on the project will begin as early as February, according to Christopher Cordaro, Executive Director at EB Realty Management (EBRM). Cordaro described the building as having “great bones” that “lend itself to a straightforward build out.”

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