The Divine Lorraine, (All But) Ready For Its Closeup

The lobby of the Divine Lorraine Hotel, the one remaining part of the restoration project to be completed. | Photos: Sandy Smith

I came to yesterday’s (Wednesday, May 17th) Urban Land Institute Philadelphia-sponsored tour of the Divine Lorraine Hotel prepared to be skeptical, for while I’d seen the marvelous raw material developer Eric Blumenfeld had to work with in the lobby on a prior visit, I’d also seen some early pictures of the rejeuvenation project’s progress on the apartments upstairs, and those photos made me ask, What was Blumenfeld thinking?

Now I know.

And I must say that the ebullient champion of North Broad Street’s lower reaches has done a damned good job with some pretty challenging raw material. Some of the problems he had to solve fall into the category of making lemonade out of lemons, while others were more straightforward, like keeping the whole thing on time and under budget. But — except for the lobby of the grand old hotel-turned-apartment building — everything fell into place quickly and with less fuss than one might anticipate. Read more »

Common Threads in This Year’s Rouse Award Residential Finalists

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year's Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year’s Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

The Urban Land Institute Philadelphia District Council announced the finalists for this year’s Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence last week, and five of the 14 finalists fall into the residential category, at least in part.

And it’s that “at least in part” part that’s one of the most significant common threads connecting the five projects. The message these projects deliver is one that urbanists, developers and planners have all been hammering home in one way or another for more than a decade now: Single-use is out, multitasking is in. (Toll Brothers, please copy.)

Not even the most residential of the five projects is exclusively residential, and that project has many other features that make it a standout. Read more »

Music to Return to the Met in Fall 2018

Rendering via EB Realty Management Coporation

Rendering: Atkin Olshin Schade Architects via EB Realty Management Corporation

Somewhere in Heaven, Oscar Hammerstein is smiling: Eric Blumenfeld, who is currently restoring his Metropolitan Opera House at 858 N. Broad St. in Francisville to its original grandeur and acoustic quality, has landed a tenant who will program the facility: concert promoter Live Nation.

Blumenfeld’s EB Realty Management Corporation announced the successful conclusion of the lease negotiations today.

Used for years as the Philadelphia Orchestra’s recording facility and most recently occupied by the Holy Ghost Headquarters Revival Center, which owns the building along with Blumenfeld, the “Met” was built in an era when the city’s “new money” was flexing its muscle with grand mansions and more along this stretch of Broad Street. Read more »

New Apartments Coming to Francisville

Rendering of Twenty on Poplar, the site for which is now being cleared. | Renderings: JKRP Architects; photos via KREIT

Rendering of Twenty on Poplar, the site for which is now being cleared. | Renderings: JKRP Architects; photos via KREIT

Demolition of a row of 19th-century houses in the 1600 block of Poplar Street in Francisville is currently under way to make way for a new, 20-unit apartment development.

KREIT is building a row of five four-unit apartment dwellings designed by JKRP Architects. The development will consist of 12 two-bedroom apartments and eight one-bedroom units. The rear units on the first floor will have access to private yards and the top-floor units will come with roof decks. Read more »

Free Land in Francsiville for Builders Who Will Sell for Less

This vacant lot in the 1900 block of Brown Street is one of eight the city's Land Bank is offering free to developers, in the process advancing Council President Darrell Clarke's workforce housing initiative. | Google Maps image

This vacant lot in the 1900 block of Brown Street is one of eight the city’s Land Bank is offering free to developers, in the process advancing Council President Darrell Clarke’s workforce housing initiative. | Google Maps image

Philadelphia’s Land Bank is continuing its slow march to functionality.

On Wednesday, the Land Bank released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for eight vacant properties near 19th and Brown streets in Francisville. It’s the first of several RFPs for “workforce housing” the Land Bank plans to send out this year, according to a press release.

The land would be given away for free or at a nominal cost to developers who will build houses and sell them for no more than $230,000 apiece. Buyers could make no more than 120 percent of Area Median Income, which is around $96,000 for a family of four. The average home sale price in Francisville is $325,000, according to the press release. Read more »

Home with a Pet Salon? This Francisville Residence Claims to Have One

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach - Center City

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach – Center City

An unanswered call to the agent has our imagination running away with us thanks to the tidbit in the listing: “oversized garage parking with a pet salon.” What!? Is it an actual grooming station or is that a fancy way of saying Fido gets his own room?? Either way, it’s taking a lot to not scour the internet for pet room ideas for 4 hours straight. (Oh. My. Gosh.)

But back to human concerns… This is a new construction and has an approved 10-year tax abatement under its belt. The property, as already mentioned, is rather spacious with enough room for a sizable SUV and claims a pet salon (although there are no pics available for evidence). There’s also available storage space on the third floor and three outdoor spaces, among them a roof deck and an outdoor yard with brick pavers.

Read more »

What’s With Those Gap-Toothed Developments in Francisville?

Gap-toothed townhomes on North 16th Street in Francisville

Francisville residents have gotten used to hearing the sound of hammers and saws around them — the neighborhood has become something of a builder’s paradise, thanks in no small part to the neighborhood’s community development corporation. Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation head Penelope Giles, in contrast to some of her peers in other low-income neighborhoods and with the support of many of her neighbors, has chosen to get out in front of gentrification rather than fight it. Letting the community guide the process, she argues, will benefit everyone.

It seems that some property owners in the neighborhood, however, don’t share her enthusiasm.

Read more »

More! Yet More! In Francisville!

ginnodo street francisvilleWe mentioned yesterday that Francisville is abuzz with new construction almost everywhere you turn. There were several other projects besides the one we reported on at 16th and Ogden streets in various stages nearby, including two attached townhomes next door on 16th, but Ridge Avenue has, for the most part, yet to hear the sound of hammers and saws.

There is, though, a three-story, two-unit dwelling at 1835 Ginnodo Street designed by Anthony Maso and being built by Michael Perelshteyn. The owner of the space, TBM Group LLC — whose contact lives in the neighborhood — purchased the lots at 1835-37 Ginnodo Street in July 2013 for $62,000, according to public record. Maso received a permit to build a four-story, two-unit dwelling on the combined lots that same month. A variance to allow the extra story had been granted the previous fall by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Read more »

New Apartments With Roof Decks Under Way in Burgeoning Francisville

construction-openTwo new multifamily townhomes, one of them with corner retail space, are under construction in a section of Francisville that has seen plenty of new development over the last year.

All that construction is by design, if you will: the neighborhood’s community development corporation, the Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation (FNDC), states that its mission is “to improve the quality of life in the Francisville community through commercial and residential development.”

In contrast to some of its sister organizations, however, the FNDC actively promotes private-sector redevelopment in the neighborhood. These new buildings are just one example of many under way.

Read more »

Midday Headlines: Cira Centre Pong Makes Guinness Book of World Records

cira centre pong game

Left photo by B. Krist for GPTMC.

• Pong on the Cira Centre has earned a a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, as Philly reports.

The Inquirer’s Al Heavens writes about continued growth in an already flourishing Francisville.

• A December town meeting at Northeast High School will cover draft plans for improving Roosevelt Blvd., area shopping districts, and parks, according to PlanPhilly.

The Philadelphia Daily News says that the new Frankford Avenue murals celebrate that neighborhood’s diversity and history.

• Former Flyer Max Talbot is selling his Bella Vista 3BR that includes a plasma TV and projector, according to Curbed Philly.

• Is Germantown going green? The Inquirer’s Alison Burdo writes about the solar paneled home and eco-friendly development firm that moved in within three years of each other.

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