That House Out There: Form Follows Function in Spring Garden

living room and kitchen

1700 Melon St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19130 | Images via Keller Williams Center City Realty

The part of Spring Garden where this recently built townhome stands was once home to several light industrial buildings, some of which have since been converted into residences.

Given that heritage, it’s quite logical that this home would reflect that industrial aesthetic, but it does so with contemporary flair and elegance.

The main floor of this 24-foot-wide residence, for instance, is completely open in plan, which means you can arrange it to suit your lifestyle. There’s plenty of room to relax and entertain, and the kitchen is equipped to handle it all, with high-end finishes and features that include a gas range with double oven, a wine fridge and a generously sized island with bar seating. If you’re in the mood for outdoor dining or entertaining, the patio in back is just the right size for grilling. Read more »

Main Line Monday: A French Fantasy in Merion Station

247 Winding Way, Merion Station, Pa. 19066 | TREND images via Keller Williams Realty

247 Winding Way, Merion Station, Pa. 19066 | TREND images via Keller Williams Realty

Sometimes, the soul just craves a romanticized French farmhouse rather than a traditional colonial home on the Main Line.

This beautiful Normandy-style stone home, built in the mid-1920s in a style modeled after French provincial country manors, is nestled on dreamily landscaped grounds in Merion Station. From a distance, you can easily spot the home’s most distinctive feature: the round stone tower topped by a cone-shaped roof with a touch of Tudor style decorative timbering. Approach the front doors at your own risk: you may find yourself just about ready to purchase this home from the curb appeal alone, what with its four sets of French doors topped with hand-carved wooden lintels. Read more »

Farmhouse Friday: Rustic Colonial Comfort in Yardley

1466 Oxford Valley Rd., Yardley, Pa. 19067 | TREND Images via Coldwell Banker Preferred

1466 Oxford Valley Rd., Yardley, Pa. 19067 | TREND Images via Coldwell Banker Preferred

If this home were a person, she’d be that quiet, charming friend with the thousand-year-old soul.

Built in 1720, but with all the carefully-executed upgrades of a modern home, Willow Bend is a home with all the charm you’d hope for in an old farmhouse with none of its antiquated maintenance problems. (The six-zone heating and central air are all up to date and energy efficient.)

Nestled on four acres in Bucks County, this spacious five-bedroom home casts natural light as the star of the show with its 9-foot-high ceilings and large windows boasting of beautiful views all around. The foyer is sandwiched between spacious and separate living and dining rooms in classic center-hall Colonial style. Both the living room and the dining room feature large stone fireplaces with wood-beam mantles as focal points. Read more »

Our Odds on the 30th Street Station Area Development Plan

30th Street Station development plan, aerial view

The 30th Street Station area master plan laid out a fantastic vision of a second downtown for Philadelphia in University City. Only money stands in the way of realizing it, with the public sector as the weakest link. | Rendering by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

$6.5 billion.

The figure was tossed out rather casually in the course of yesterday’s formal unveiling of the two-years-in-the-making master development plan for the area surrounding 30th Street Station in University City, but it represents the largest single bet yet placed on the future of Philadelphia.

The parties involved — Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT, SEPTA, and a slew of elected officials and community groups — have put their chips down on a project that has many moving parts and will play out over the course of decades.

As we’ve seen plans almost as ambitious as this one go up in smoke (anyone here remember River City?), it’s only logical that we should ask what its chances for completion are. Herewith are my own odds for the plan’s key components and the overall chances that the plan will be fully realized sometime in our or our children’s lifetimes. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: An Elegant Estate Home in Newtown

1 Old Cabin Rd., Newton, Pa. 18940 | TREND images via Addison Wolfe Real Estate

1 Old Cabin Rd., Newtown, Pa. 18940 | Photos from Addison Wolfe Real Estate

You probably won’t get cabin fever on a rainy day in a home like this one.

That’s because, for starters, you could probably fit about a dozen cabins in this spectacular one-of-a-kind home from Mack & Roedel custom builders in Newtown’s Ely Farm subdivision. Then there’s what you’ll find in all that space. With plenty of room to relax and custom-designed spaces for entertainment, work and other activities, you can follow your fancy wherever it leads you.

Did we say fancy? This generously sized home may look like a traditional farmhouse on the outside, but inside, it’s clearly to the manor born: there’s not a single room in this home that doesn’t exude elegance, starting with the lovely center hall entrance foyer with its tray ceiling above and Brazilian cherry wood flooring below. Read more »

These Are The Region’s 8 Best Developments

The Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, one of this year's Rouse Award winners, is at once a stormwater management facility and a community recreational and cultural asset. | Photo by BKP, courtesy ULI Philadelphia

The Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, one of this year’s Rouse Award winners, is at once a stormwater management facility and a community recreational and cultural asset. | Photo by BKP, courtesy ULI Philadelphia

The Philadelphia region is brimming with talented architects and designers cranking out imaginative, creative and attractive buildings.

And they’re all putting them in University City.

Okay, not all of them. But three of this year’s eight winners of the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia’s third annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Awards for Excellence are located in University City, more than any other single part of Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware, the region covered by ULI’s Philadelphia district council. Read more »

30th Street Station Development Plans Announced

 

A renedering of what the area around 30th Street Station would look like when all the projects envisioned in the development plan are completed. | Renderings by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

This morning, Amtrak, SEPTA and Drexel University officials unveiled plans for a massive transformation of the area around 30th Street Station.

The massive, multi-decade 30th Street Station District Plan would, when completed, turn the area around 30th Street Station into a second downtown for Philadelphia focused on the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system. That station, transformed into a multimodal transportation hub for the region, would serve as the linchpin of the planned development.

New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created under the plan, with most of the development privately financed. A total of $2 billion in public investment would leverage an additional $4.5 billion in private investment. These figures are on top of the $3.5 billion Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust have already pledged to see the Schuylkill Yards development, which Drexel President John Fry described as “a down payment” on the plan at this morning’s public unveiling, to completion. Read more »

PECO Delaware Station Recommended for Historic Register

PECO Delaware Station

Courtesy Eli Pousson

The Philadelphia Historical Commission’s designation committee unanimously recommended yesterday that the former PECO Delaware Station be added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

Two longtime residents submitted the nomination in hope that the towering structure, which looms over Penn Treaty Park, would meet at least six qualifying criteria. The commission agreed that it met five.

John T. Windram, who was behind the Franklin Institute, designed the plant with William Eglin in 1917. It operated as the Delaware Generating Station, a major electrical power plant, until 2004.

Read more »

University City Preservation Tragedy: When Density Begets Dullness

Dull density vs. handsome history. If this is the price of progress, can we get a refund? | Photo courtesy Naked Philly

Dull density vs. handsome history: If this is the price of progress, can we get a refund? | Photo courtesy Naked Philly

One of the positive aspects of the current development boom in Philly is that long-underutilized land is being put to better use. Denser development makes the most of our great transportation infrastructure and adds more vitality to neighborhoods across the spectrum.

Of course, no good is unalloyed. Sometimes, to get the benefit, pieces of the city’s past must be sacrificed. It’s part of the natural process by which cities remain vital.

But not all new development is worth sacrificing the past for. Sometimes, the pursuit of density (and the increased revenue that comes with it) demands too high a price.

Especially when that price is the replacement of handsome ensembles of historic buildings with bland, uninspired boxes. Read more »

First-Time Find: Urbane Renewal in Fishtown

1515 E. Montgomery Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19125 | Photos courtesy Custom Philly Homes

1515 E. Montgomery Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19125 | Photos by Plush Image, courtesy Custom Philly Homes

You’ve seen houses like these before in neighborhoods across the city: smaller rowhouses set back from the street, shrinking violets that often exude charm but not much else.

But we’ll bet you’ve never seen a house like this before. That’s because more than the porch on this home was filled in. This unassuming-looking home got a total gut renovation and now epitomizes contemporary Fishtown style. Read more »

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