Who’s Building Philly: Carl Dranoff

Carl Dranoff atop his One Riverside condo. | Photo: Jeff Fusco

Carl Dranoff atop his One Riverside condo. | Photo: Jeff Fusco

“Those who succeed over the years can steer their way through choppy waters, and that includes things you can’t control.”

Carl Dranoff, the man who said that, should know. The CEO of Dranoff Properties rode historic preservation to national prominence before a change in the law brought his business to its knees. The lessons he learned from that career setback have informed the rise of his business and his development strategy since then.

“Actually, I’ve had three careers,” said Dranoff. His first was as a garden-variety home builder. The firm he founded in 1975 built single-family tract houses, working principally with Kaufman & Broad, whose South Jersey division he managed. “That was where I cut my teeth on mass production.”

But his first foray into mass-produced suburban single-family tract homes was also his last. Ever since, he has focused on the multifamily market, with an emphasis on urban development. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: One Riverside

The living room in Unit 412, one of two finished model units at One Riverside. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise indicated

The living-dining room in Unit 412, one of two finished model units at One Riverside. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise indicated

The last time we caught up with Carl Dranoff, he was celebrating the topping-off of his One Riverside, the east-bank exclamation point that, along with the all-but-finished FMC Tower at Cira South on the opposite bank, redefine the southern Schuylkill riverfront in Center City.

Last Tuesday (January 3rd), as architects ran down a checklist on a nearly-finished apartment, the proud father showed off his baby with a behind-the-scenes tour that offered glimpses of what the residents can expect when they start moving in in March along with some condos whose fitting out was very much in the early stages.

The tour began in the most-of-the-way-there lobby and proceeded to the fourth floor, where two finished model apartments take full advantage of the building’s clean modern lines and plentiful views. From there, it proceeded to the top floor, where two spectacular penthouses — one a bi-level and the other a nearly full-floor unit — were just beginning to take shape. Read more »

Philly Developers ‘Terrified,’ ‘Intrigued’ to Have One of Their Own As President

AP Photo/John Minchillo URN:23754236

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Real estate developers tend to have a funny relationship to politics. On the one hand, they often flood local elections with campaign donations and relentlessly lobby for policies that will make their work easier and more profitable. On the other hand, they need friends in government in order to make deals and get important approvals, so their public political statements are usually diplomatic, calculated to achieve a certain result without offending anyone powerful.

President-elect Donald Trump, who started his career as a real estate developer, fits that mold in some ways and smashes it in others. While his pronouncements are calculated for advantage, they are also routinely offensive, though more often to the powerless than the powerful. And in some respects—his bombast, his ego, his unembarrassed pursuit of profit and tacky opulence—he provides the world with a cartoon picture of the stereotypical real estate man.

I was curious how some of Philadelphia’s more prominent developers felt about having one of their own in the White House, so I asked a few. Philadelphia is, of course, a Democratic Party town, and for the most part, these developers’ comments echoed the sort of restrained, cautious acceptance we’ve seen from prominent Democratic officials in the wake of the election. But in many instances, I detected an undercurrent of despair.

“The public perception of real estate developers, as a result of Trump’s ascension to the Presidency, has already changed,” said Ken Weinstein, a Germantown developer and owner of the Trolley Car Diner. “More than a few people, upon learning that I am a developer, have already asked if I pay taxes, if I stiff my subcontractors and how many times I have filed for bankruptcy (yes, no and zero).  Most developers are ethical business people so using Trump as an example of a typical real estate developer is not accurate.”

“I think he has developed many abysmal projects with little thought given to the value of community impact or design,” said Lindsey Scannapieco, who owns the former Bok Technical High School, one of the biggest buildings in South Philadelphia, which not been free of controversy. “However, I hope that his push on infrastructure investment provides momentum for thoughtful and important re-investments that create a more equitable landscape across the country.” Read more »

Dranoff Celebrates Topping-Off of One Riverside

The beam guests signed at the ceremony may be purely symbolic, as One Riverside's frame is largely complete, but it symbolizes years of planning and construction as well as the last piece in the transformation of the Schuylkill riverbank from dump to jewel. | Photos: Sandy Smith

The beam guests signed at the ceremony may be purely symbolic, as One Riverside’s frame is largely concrete, but it symbolizes years of planning and construction as well as the completion of last piece in the transformation of the Schuylkill’s east bank from dump to jewel. | Photos: Sandy Smith

As joggers, dog owners, bicyclists, kids and their parents enjoyed the balmy weather down at street level in Schuylkill River Park yesterday evening (May 25), eight floors up, invited guests, local politicians and some very happy future residents basked in the temporary air conditioning as they joined developer Carl Dranoff and architect Cecil Baker at a “park in the sky” for the ceremonial topping-off of Dranoff’s One Riverside apartment tower.

Guests signed a ceremonial beam on their way to the construction lifts and mingled to the music of the Philadelphia String Quartet before and after Dranoff, Baker and the electeds spoke.

In his remarks to the assembled guests, Dranoff showered praise on all the parties involved in bringing the project to fruition. “It took hard work and three years of planning and construction under pretty intense conditions to transform our vision from blueprints into a stunning addition to our skyline.” Read more »

Councilman Squilla Introduces New Zoning to Ease Path for Hyde Hotel Project

Hyde hotel

Hyde Hotel | Rendering via Dranoff Properties, BLTa

Though Carl Dranoff’s plans to bring the SLS LUX hotel and residences to the corner of Broad and Spruce have been delayed by the state budget impasse, that hasn’t held him up from moving onto his other sbe-backed hotel project: the Hyde Hotel at Broad and Pine.

Jared Brey of PlanPhilly reports that Councilman Mark Squilla introduced two new bits of zoning legislation last week that would “remove some obstacles” for the project. One seeks to up zone the property from CMX-4 to CMX-5, the most permissive commercial zoning classification; the other would take care of issues with parking, loading, and roof decks.

The proposed 22-story building is seen as a “bookend” to the SLS Lux project, which occupies the northern corner of the 300 block of South Broad Street. It would rise 292 feet off of the street, and contain a mix 76 hotel rooms, approximately 83 apartments, a ground floor restaurant and an underground parking garage. The roof deck legislation comes into play due to a separate roof top restaurant and deck on the 23rd floor.

Read more »

Dranoff Presents Plans for “Bookend” SLS Brand Hotel at Broad and Pine

Here's the parking garage/Starbucks located at 337-341 South Broad Street | Google Street View

Here’s the parking garage/Starbucks located at 337-341 South Broad Street | Google Street View

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: developer Carl Dranoff has big plans for a key corner of South Broad Street.

No, we’re not talking about the delayed SLS Lux project at Broad and Spruce, or his Symphony House tower at Broad and Pine. We’re not even talking about SouthStar Lofts at Broad and South, or 777 South Broad at Fitzwater.

This time, Dranoff has his sights set on the other corner of Broad and Pine, specifically the northeastern quadrant that currently houses a Starbucks, Sumo Sushi and a dilapidated parking garage, for another SLS-branded project called the Hyde Hotel. It’s intended to be a “bookend” for the aforementioned SLS Lux, Dranoff told members of the Washington Square West Civic Association during an information-only presentation on Tuesday night.

Dranoff has once again partnered with sbe to create a 22-story mixed-use tower proposal featuring a ground floor restaurant, an underground parking garage, 76 hotel rooms and approximately 83 apartment units. It would all be topped by a separate restaurant on the roof deck located on the 23rd floor.

Read more »

Up, Up, in a Crane: What Life is Like as a Tower Crane Operator

This is the office for a tower crane operator. | Photos: James Jennings

With upwards of 20 tower cranes dotting the Philadelphia skyline these days, you’d be forgiven if you sometimes caught yourself daydreaming about what life is like in one of those bubbles that float high above the city. I definitely do.

After all, with mega projects under construction alongside the Ben Franklin Bridge, up and down the Schuylkill River and right in the center of it all at the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, tower crane operators have a view unlike any other, day in and day out.

I recently met with the team over at One Riverside, including operating engineer Joel Crooks of Madison Concrete Construction; Andrew O’Donnell, project manager at INTECH; and developer Carl Dranoff, to not only talk about the many intricacies and rigors of the job, of which there are many, but also to take the chance to make the 200-foot ascent up the tower and experience first hand the exhilaration of getting into the cab of the crane.

What I learned was eye opening, and what I saw was simply breathtaking.

Read more »

Meet “Carl The Builder” at One Riverside’s Kid-Friendly Construction Carnival

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 3.52.28 PMDo you have a construction-loving kid and want to be one of the coolest parents in the world this weekend?

Saturday, September 12, developer Carl Dranoff will temporarily remove his fedora and don a hard hat, as “Carl the Builder” will tour kids (and grown ups) around his latest sandbox–the construction site of One Riverside, a luxury condo building at 25th and Locust.

From the looks of the flier, there will be a ton of freebies for the kiddos, including carnival food like hot dogs, water ice and soft pretzels.

But that’s not even the best part: “The kids will be able to get their pictures taken with the construction equipment while wearing our take-away hard hats,” says Marianne Harris, vice president of Sales, Marketing and Leasing at Dranoff Properties. “We are also giving out miniature trucks and trucks filled with candy as well as “Carl The Builder” coloring books and crayons.”

To recap: we’re talking free food, hard hats, coloring books, pictures with heavy machinery and also Carl Dranoff riffing off of Bob the Builder.

Read more »

Tashan Is Closing

tashan-interior10-lrg

The tandoor ovens will cool after September 7th.

Tashan, the high-end Indian restaurant from Tiffin founder Munish Narula will close after dinner service on Monday, September 7th.

The attractive restaurant opened almost exactly four years ago to excellent reviews but never became the hard-to-get a reservation, must-be-seen-at restaurant that Narula envisioned it would become, and many, including this site practically demanded it be.

Read more »

Groundbreaking: Here’s What to Expect from One Riverside

One Riverside | Courtesy: Dranoff Properties

One Riverside | Courtesy: Dranoff Properties

After a long and winding journey, Carl Dranoff’s latest luxury tower, One Riverside, officially broke ground yesterday. When complete, the Cecil Baker-designed building will rise 22-stories above the ground and feature sweeping views of the Schuylkill River as well as multiple vantage points of both the Center City, and ever-expanding University City skylines.

The One Riverside project will be Dranoff’s fourth foray into residential development along the Schuylkill River. Previous developments include Locust Point, Locust on the Park and the Left Bank, which is on the University City side of the river at 3131 Walnut Street.

Read more »

« Older Posts