Jawdropper of the Week: XXL Luxury Next Door to Billy Penn

123 Avenue of the Arts Suite 28CDE, Philadelphia Pa. 19109 | Photos courtesy of The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton

1414 South Penn Square, Suite 28CDE, Philadelphia Pa. 19102 | Photos courtesy of The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton

Have you ever seen eye-to-eye with William Penn?

We’re talking about the man who stands right on top of City Hall. In this luxury condo, you can gaze upon him quite easily. This week’s Jawdropper hones in on a stunning suite in one of America’s finest luxury residential buildings: The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton.

Back in March, we reported that interior designer Barbara (BJ) Nipon Spencer of BJS Design was brought in to outfit three of the units at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton. She came up with distinctly different treatments for the three units: the two-bedroom Unit 44DE and two three-bedroom units, 31B and 44GH. Read more »

Cambria Hotel Breaks Ground Before It’s Ground

You can't stick a shovel into a steel plate, but there were shovels all the same at today's ceremonial groundbreaking. The participants: Top row, left to right: Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce CEO Rick Wunderling, DAS Architects Principal David Schultz, Pearl Properties Principal Jim Pearlstein, Choice Hotels Chief Development Officer David Pepper. Bottom row, left to right: DAS Architects Principal Sue Davidson, Visit Philadelphia CEO Meryl Levitz, Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce, Pearl Properties Principal Reed Slogoff, Choice Hotels Senior Vice President for Upscale Brands Janice Camron, Choice Hotels Director of Development Guy Gridley. |Photo: Sandy Smith

You can’t stick a shovel into a steel plate, but there were shovels all the same at today’s ceremonial groundbreaking. The participants: Top row, left to right: Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce CEO Rob Wonderling, DAS Architects Principal David Schultz, Pearl Properties Principal Jim Pearlstein, Choice Hotels Chief Development Officer David Pepper. Bottom row, left to right: DAS Architects Principal Sue Davidson, Visit Philadelphia CEO Meryl Levitz, Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce, Pearl Properties Principal Reed Slogoff, Choice Hotels Senior Vice President for Upscale Brands Janis Cannon, Choice Hotels Director of Development Guy Gridley. |Photos: Sandy Smith

No actual ground was broken in this morning’s ceremony at the site of the future Cambria Hotel and Suites on the Avenue of the Arts, but it was a groundbreaking event all the same.

Groundbreaking because it marks Cambria parent Choice Hotels’ first venture into the upper end of the Center City Philadelphia market. Its closest previous foray, a mid-range Comfort Inn at Penn’s Landing, changed hands several years ago and is now a Holiday Inn Express. (There are also two franchised Choice affiliates catering to the budget traveler in Center City: a Sleep Inn on Race Street in Chinatown and a Rodeway Inn on Walnut Street in Washington Square West’s Midtown Village/Gayborhood section.)

Choice Hotels executives, the hotel’s developer and its architect, and representatives of the city’s tourism promotion machine all turned out this morning to celebrate the hotel’s impending construction and welcome Choice back into the thick of things. Read more »

The Griffin, Ready For Its Closeup

A model unit at The Griffin. | Photo: Sandy Smith

A model corner unit at The Griffin. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise indicated

Back in August of last year, we gave you a first look at a work in progress on the Avenue of the Arts: The Griffin, the first Philadelphia project for MRP Realty, a Washington-based real estate development and management firm whose local office is headed by Delco native Charley McGrath.

MRP bought the upper 14 floors of the vintage-1898 Avenue of the Arts Building, most recently a dorm for Art Institute of Philadelphia students, for $33 million in early 2014 and quickly went about converting those floors into 217 luxury apartments.

Those apartments are now well on their way to completion, with several models now open for inspection and tenants already moving in, so we decided we’d take leasing manager Benjamin Cutler up on his offer of letting us poke around the building again. Read more »

Sleek and Sun-Drenched: Unit 318 Is Available at South Street’s 1352 Lofts

Photo credit: Mike Eckstrom, MJE Photographic

Photo credit: Mike Eckstrom, MJE Photographic

The other day, the Metro newspaper drew up a list of local residential buildings where, if they for whatever reasoned opted to buy a home here, certain A-List celebrities might decide to move. To Kimye, they assigned 500 Walnut; for the Jolie-Pitt clan, Parc Rittenhouse; and to Leonardo “Never Let Go, Rose” DiCaprio, they left a unit at 1352 Lofts, so that his, quote, “posse of models will have plenty of room to stand in stilettos under the 20-foot ceilings.”

Hah, perhaps, but we doubt he’d spend much time there what with his efforts to save the environment and all.  Yet, as Metro notes, any of the sleek units offered at the Broad and South loft building – there are a total of seventy-two, actually, ranging from studios, flats, to bi-levels –  would jibe well with a bachelor (or bachelorette) like Leo. Or Bradley Cooper. Yeah, it’s more Cooper. Leo might live at Icon.

As it so happens, unit no. 318 at 1352 Lofts is currently on the market. Features of note in this two-bedroom include hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows (yes, they’re 20 feet high!), private balcony, and an open space living area, which the master bedroom occupant can enjoy in full view from their loft sleeping quarter. Central air is also included.

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Spotted Off Avenue of the Arts: Roommate-Friendly Condo on Lombard

TREND photos via Redfin

TREND photos via Redfin

While it would certainly work for a couple, this bi-level condo with a bedroom on each floor seems better suited to roommates who wish to preserve their respective privacy.

To begin, the main floor contains the granite topped eat-in kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a contemporary design. Of the two bedrooms, our favorite is on this floor, and we suggest you call dibs on it if you go the roommate route: its bathroom is the more sumptuous of the two!

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PHOTOS: Chubby Checker, Jerry Blavat and Others Polish Their Plaques on Philly “Walk of Fame”

Tuesday volunteers from Philadelphia Music Alliance, Avenue of the Arts Inc., and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 8 polished all 121 bronze plaques along the Avenue of the Arts’ “Walk of Fame. Volunteers started at 8 a.m. and finished around noon. 

The plaques recognize the musical talent of those who were born in Philadelphia—from singers Patti LaBelle and Bessie Smith to legendary DJ Georgie Woods and songwriter Linda Creed. The volunteers got down on their hands and knees using steel wool, tooth brushes, cloths and polish to bring the plaques back to their original shine. (Most were laid over 20 years ago).

On hand to see their stars shine once again were radio personality Jerry Blavat, Chubby Checker, Earl Jones, Kenny Gamble, and Joseph Tarsia. Also spotted: Teddy Pendergrass II, who was on hand to polish his father’s plaque, and Philly-born musicians Jade Starling and Whey Cooler from Pretty Poison.

Check out the newly shining stars located between Walnut and Spruce Streets. You might want to bring sunglasses, they’re bright.



Plaques Along Avenue of the Arts’ “Walk of Fame” to Get a Good Polishing Next Week

philly-s-walk-of-fameTo kick off the start of the fall arts season in the city, the Philadelphia Music Alliance, Avenue of the Arts, and the I.A.T.S.E. Local Union 8 will polish the plaques along the Walk of Fame in honor of our rich musical culture.

Next Tuesday, September 23rd, with help from local volunteers and Philadelphia’s music community—including Walk of Fame honorees Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp, Charlie Gracie, Jerry Blavat, and more—Making The Stars Shine will clean and polish the 121 bronze plagues along the Walk of Fame. The Walk spans the Avenue of the Arts from Walnut Street to Spruce Street, honoring Philly’s musical history and esteemed legends.

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Newly Listed: Center City Condo for Just Shy of $4 Million

looking at symphony house from spaceUnit 2008 at Symphony House spans what the listing describes as “the full southern hemisphere of floor 20,” which makes me envision the city as a globe with Broad Street as the Equator. (It does seem hotter below Broad, doesn’t it?) The huge condo does have enough amenities for a small planet, such as multiple TVs, including a 60 inch plasma; floor-to-ceiling glass walls with city views; custom Viking and Sub-Zero appliances; Smart House and sound systems; a bidet; another apartment within the apartment, with a separate entrance and full kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom and full bath; three garage parking spots; and then all the amenities the building itself has. Plus, this unit still has time on a tax abatement.

Gallery below.

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Checking In At Bar Volver

bar-volver-thinking-ale-kay

People go to bars for all kinds of reasons. To hang out with neighbors over three-dollar lagers. To knock back Beam-and-Pabst specials while stomping their feet to liquor-drinking music. To find out what happens when an eccentric teetotaler mixes a vast booze library with grapes juiced to order. To be quiet and get drunk.

In other words, to escape. And if Philadelphia is what you want to get away from, you need travel no further than to the bar at Volver.

Like the ticketed-entry dining room it abuts in the Kimmel Center, Jose Garces’ champagne-and-caviar lounge is in Philadelphia but not quite of it. Look one way and your eyes fall on a marbled white bar lit by the glow of four sleek halos that could have been commissioned by Starfleet. Look another—at an ultra-saturated blue textile mural crafted by local artist Conrad Booker out of 4,000 buttons and 200 yards of deeply dyed burlap—and you feel like you’ve warp-tunneled your way into Pedro Almodóvar’s Madrid. Meanwhile a soft-footed fleet of servers patrols the ebony-stained floorboards wearing black quasi-judo jackets trimmed with Jupiter orange, like a squad of acrobatic assassins waiting for Roger Moore to request a shaken martini.

It is a very, very cool place to sit down for an hour.

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