Author: Sandy Smith

Now on the Market: A Flag Stop on the Underground Railroad

This photo shows the secret staircase to the fourth-floor hiding room. Photo by Sandy Smith.

This photo shows the secret staircase to the fourth-floor hiding room. Photo by Sandy Smith.

lee904f44-w0xEvery structure has a story behind it, no matter how humble. But some have more fascinating stories than others. We found one with a great story on the market in Society Hill.

415 Pine Street is a handsome four-story Colonial directly across from Old Pine Street Church (the church is seen through the house’s window, at left). There’s a reason why.

The house was built in 1795 by James Moyes and his wife Mary Tatum Moyes, who purchased the lot in 1787. James, who owned several buildings on the next block, was a sailmaker and ropemaker for the American forces during the Revolution. The Moyses were Quakers and ardent foes of slavery, which is why they bought the lot across from Old Pine: In addition to building a house for themselves, they used it to stash slaves fleeing to freedom.

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Philly’s Luxury Residence Buyers Want Some Suburban With Their Urban [Gallery]

naval square exterior

Photo by Laura Kicey

Does the Toll Brothers City Living’s Naval Square development shout “city living” to you? It might not. The gated community that fortunately saved William Strickland’s landmark Naval Home on Grays Ferry Avenue seems more suburban than citified.

But it’s not just because of its gates. Even the ungated communities Toll Brothers City Living proposes in Philadelphia can seem less than fully urban. Take 2400 South, an in-progress development on a commercial thoroughfare with no commerce at all. Or how about the strictly residential project–at 410 S. Front–that is planned for the middle of Society Hill’s one real entertainment district?

Turns out, those who buy Toll Brothers City Living properties don’t necessarily want to live above a store.

“We would love to build mixed residential/commercial in this market,” says Brian Emmons, the vice president in charge of Toll’s City Living division, ”but right now, [builders who do] can’t fill their retail. While everyone likes to live near commercial, the luxury demographic buyer chooses to live two to three blocks from it, not directly above it.”

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How Knowing His Tomatoes May Make a Winner Out of Wynn

wynn philadelphia

Daniel Keating, head of the construction company that bears his name and the lead contractor on the proposed Wynn Philadelphia casino resort, acknowledges that each of the six proposals for the remaining casino license in Philly has something to recommend it. But in the end, he says, the weaknesses of the other five outweigh their strengths, which is why he signed on as the contractor for the Wynn project.

“The three South Philly casinos are adequate in size, and their location is not as big a negative as some think,” Keating said in an hourlong interview at the Phoenix the other day. “They can handle the traffic they will generate at some times of the day. The problem is convincing us that South Philly wants another traffic generator.”

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Morning Headlines: CNN Money Says Philly’s Best Neighborhood Is Mt. Airy

mt airy

Photo of celebration at Final-ly Friday via Go Mt. Airy

Philadelphia is chock-full of great neighborhoods, some well-known, some up-and-coming, some waiting to be discovered, others still waiting for better days to come again.

But of all the city’s dazzling variety of neighborhoods, which one most impressed the CNN Money editors this year? Mt. Airy, the Northwest Philly neighborhood that serves as the bridge between Germantown and Chestnut Hill.

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Huge Wynnewood Whole Foods Gets Go-Ahead from Lower Merion Township


At its last monthly meeting before the fall Monday night, the Lower Merion Township Planning Commission gave the green light to a huge new Whole Foods Market at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Wynnewood Road.

The new, 45,000-square-foot supermarket, which would replace an existing store just west of the site, will occupy a lot assembled from eight parcels stretching eastward from the Cumberland Farms store at the intersection to just west of the Citizens Bank on Wynnewood. Two large office buildings, the Cumberland Farms and six other commercial structures will be demolished to make way for the store.

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Five Starter Homes in Terrific–and Tony–Neighborhoods


A recent report suggests that the number of first-time buyers is dwindling due to the number of people with student loan debt. But there are plenty of starter homes to be found in almost every part of town, including the ritzy ones.

There are very nice condos and co-ops that would be ideal for a single person or childless couple making their first investment. (They’re also good for suburbanites in search of an in-town pied-a-terre.) Sometimes such starters are found in the “downscale” part of a neighborhood, but when the neighborhood is Chestnut Hill, it’s not much of a hardship.

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Hot Development: High-End Housing Shortage


Want proof the housing market recovery is for real? We now have a report of a housing shortage–at the top of the market.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that mansions are in short supply in the nation’s richest ZIP codes. According to the story by CNBC reporter Robert Frank, inventory of homes for sale in the country’s 90 wealthiest ZIP codes is down 15 percent from year-ago levels, a slightly larger drop than the market as a whole.

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Paging Stephen Starr: Great Restaurant Space Up for Grabs on Independence Mall


You may have read by now that the Dow Chemical Company is putting its historic–yes, historic; it’s listed on the National Register–office building on Independence Mall up for sale once again.

Rohm and Haas built the building in 1965 as its headquarters, and the building designed by Pietro Belluschi and George M. Ewing Co. (now EwingCole) is considered a Modernist masterpiece.

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For Lease: An El Stop of One’s Own

Photo: Sandy Smith

Photo: Sandy Smith

“Convenient to Public Transportation,” the flyer for 625 N. Front St. reads. “1/2 Block to the Market-Frankford El.”

Couldn’t get much closer than that. Unless, as is the case with this building, it was once part of the Market-Frankford El.

The building, on Front Street just south of Fairmount Avenue in Northern Liberties, has 7,000 square feet of space on its main floor and basement and features huge windows and a soaring three-story-high ceiling. That large-volume space comes from its original purpose: It served as the entrance to Fairmount station on the Frankford Elevated Railway.

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