Valentine’s Special: Allan Domb (and Others) Talk About Falling in Love

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Allan Domb’s heart beats for real estate. Original photo by Laura Kicey.

At first glance, it might seem an unlikely pairing: romance and real estate. But they often go hand in hand. There’s such a personal relationship with your home. You want to make sure you choose “the one.”

That’s not only true for homeowners, but also for people who work in the industry. We asked a few of Philadelphia’s real estate icons to talk about their their love of the business — and the highs and lows of their relationships with it.

The Butterflies

“I’m passionate about real estate,” says Allan Domb, of Allan Domb Real Estate and current President of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors. “You can’t be successful if you don’t love what you do. For most people, purchasing a home is the biggest financial decision they will make in their lifetime. For four, five, six months, I’m involved in that process, and that’s incredibly special.”

“For me,” says Diane Bryant of Bryant & Wilde Realty, “I was inspired by the sales end of the business, placing buyers in a home they were excited about.”

Michael Rosman, branch manager of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, has worked in the lending industry for 15 years. Here’s what he loves: “Every day brings a new situation, new client, a new challenge that I can impact for the positive.”

The Perfect Match

Deciding to buy property is typically the largest financial investment a person will make in a lifetime. It’s important to work with knowledgeable professionals and recognize that you’re building a relationship. Trust, communication and support are paramount for a successful match.

“Ask for recommendations from friends or family and identify the agent’s reputation. If you haven’t bought a home before, ask around and see what people liked about the agent or didn’t,” advise the folks at Bryant & Wilde.

Brokers will want to build an intimate relationship with a specific neighborhood: “Learn a block and learn it better then anyone else. Become a one-street specialist.”

Speaking for lenders, Mike Rosman — who has owned his own business — sees value in pairing up rather than going it alone: “Working with a larger institution, such as Wells Fargo, offers support and resources that aren’t available with smaller shops,” he says.

The Ups and Downs

Every relationship has its high points and low points.

David G. Marshall, Chairman and CEO of Amerimar Realty Company, counts the two and a half years developing The Rittenhouse Hotel and Condominium as a high point.

“Finally we were getting ready to open. We had hired much of the staff and they were all scurrying about in last minute preparations. I walked into the kitchen and there was ordered turmoil with ‘real food’ coming of the concrete, steel, and assorted equipment, that I knew little about. The thought came over me that this must be what a woman feels like when giving birth after all the struggles of labor. I honestly felt like crying, but I didn’t. I had a 650,000-square-foot baby to raise.”

The romance surged for Bryant & Wilde Realty after successfully selling all of the condos and doing the re-sales at The Rittenhouse Hotel and Condominiums. They were approached in 2005 to work on a new project, The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton. “Being approached by The Ritz, based on referrals of others in the Philadelphia market, was such a compliment for us,” says Margie Wilde, co-owner of Bryant & Wilde. “It’s always nice to be recognized for accomplishments, and the project presented a wonderful opportunity.”

For Mike Rosman, running his own mortgage brokerage was both a high and a low point. “Running my own business allowed me to appreciate the business much more,” he says. “The low point was when the market crashed in 2009 and it was my business I had to end up closing.”

That was a common low point for many.

“Looking back now,” Rosman says, “if you can make it through 2008/2009, you can make it through anything.”

Allan Domb Buys Historical Buildings Near Independence Hall

Side view screenshot of Domb's new properties via Google Street View.

Side view screenshot of Domb’s new properties via Google Street View.

Allan Domb, “Condo King” and recently appointed president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors, has bought two historical buildings near Independence Hall: the Shippen-Wistar and Cadwalader Houses on South 4th Street.

Shippen-Wistar is perhaps the more well-known given its notable tenants. In 1744, William Penn sold the land to one William Shippen, a physician and one of the founders of the University of Penn. According to the Philadelphia Real Estate Blog, Shippen was a delegate to the Continental Congress and built the home circa 1750. His son, William Jr., went on to become the Continental Army’s director general of hospitals and one of the first speakers on anatomy in the country.

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A Full and Thorough Accounting of Allan Domb’s GPAR Installation

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Photo of Allan Domb in the lobby of Parc Rittenhouse by Laura Kicey

Last night at Parc almost every real estate agent in Philadelphia, eight City Council members (Jannie Blackwell, Brian O’Neill, Jim Kenney, Mark Squilla, Cindy Bass, Kenyatta Johnson, Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, and Council prez Darrell Clarke), and a number of important civic leaders gathered to celebrate developer/realtor Allan Domb on the occasion of his inauguration as 89th president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors (GPAR).

The crowd was well-heeled in that brokerish way: the young men made ample use of hair gel and the young women wore LBDs and heels. Everyone looked very polished and coiffed, though the Council members tend to have their own style. Jim Kenney was wearing a tweed jacket with patches on the elbows, and looked the entire time like he was about to run off either to teach a class on American poetry or join friends for a few rounds of Guinness.

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Nicole Marquis To Open a Vegan Bar

Best Philadelphian Nicole Marquis of HipCityVeg. Photo for Philadelphia magazine by Nell Hoving.

Photo for Philadelphia magazine by Nell Hoving.

Back in April we told you that HipCityVeg’s Nicole Marquis’ name appeared on a liquor license at 131 S 13th Street, the former Full Moon Saloon, next to Vintage Wine Bar, or Danny’s Sex Shop if you prefer. Today Marquis gives us the details.

Marquis and real estate developer Allan Domb are opening Charlie Was a Sinner, a vegan bar in Midtown Village. Marquis tells us that she’s been doing research in and is looking to bring an elevated vegan bar to Philadelphia. Inspired by places like the Ace Hotel and Beauty & Essex in New York, the bar will serve cocktails made with elixrs and juices and serve up satisfying plant-based menu.

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Allan Domb: Property Taxes Are Extremely Collectable. So Let’s Get It Done.

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Photo of Allan Domb in the lobby of Parc Rittenhouse by Laura Kicey

Property manager/owner/developer Allan Domb, who is also the president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors (GPAR), has become passionate about property tax collection. Last week he attended the City Council meeting during which Bill Green presented legislation that would encourage the mayor to sell tax liens to private companies. Domb, who ideally would like the property tax rate to be 1 percent rather than 1.34, testified at the meeting in support of the bill, which passed 15-2.

Domb told us that when he looked into areas where the city might save money, he kept running into the issue of real estate delinquencies (all municipal delinquencies total $1.6 billion). “Fifteen percent of the population doesn’t pay property taxes,” he said. Even more galling, “40 percent of those delinquent owners are investors who don’t even live in Philadelphia.”

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PHOTOS: Allan Domb’s New “Micro Apartments” at 1955 Locust

Arielle Gottlieb over at Allan Domb’s office sent us some information about the busy investor/developer’s latest project:

1955 Locust is a 9-unit building with micro-apartments ranging in size from 352 square feet to 510 square feet. There is one studio and the remainder are true one bedroom units. Although brand new, 1955 Locust stays true to many of its original building details such as oversized windows, high ceilings, restored wainscoting and other woodwork, and some homes even have the original marble fireplace mantels.

Despite being so small, each unit has high-end finishes and features including: hardwood floors throughout; bathrooms with stylish vanities and tile detail; kitchens with wood cabinetry, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops; and Bosch stackable washers and dryers.

Prices start at $1,390 per month.

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Trend Piece: Chains Swamping Walnut Street Due to High Rent

The Inquirer‘s fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington spoke with longtime Walnut Street style doyenne and shop owner Joan Shepp this weekend about what she’ll do now that she’s being priced out of the store that made the street chic to begin with. While Shepp isn’t sure where she’ll go next (we’ve heard rumblings about Chestnut Street; also, 15th Street), she certainly can’t afford the rent now charged to the “average 2,000- to 2,500-square-foot store…about $22,000 to $34,000 per month.”

In truth, Walnut Street has been expensive for a long time. In 2005, Women’s Wear Daily put it on a list of the most expensive retail streets, and reported that its average rent was $90 per square foot. (It’s now between $130 and $160 per square foot.)

Don Davidow, co-owner of Knit Wit, which moved to Chestnut Street, told Wellington: “Independent, local boutique owners just can’t afford to be on Walnut Street anymore.” And indeed, many of the newcomers are not independent: Intermix, the coming-soon Madewell, Stuart Weitzman, Theory, and potentially J. Crew menswear and C. Wonder.

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Allan Domb Discusses 13th Street, Rittenhouse Square and More


Check out the week’s most interesting posts on Philadelphia magazine’s real estate blog, Property. Real estate king Allan Domb talks plans for 13th Street and the north side of Rittenhouse Square.

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