Last night I went to a Vertical Block Party in the new building on Chestnut and 15th – the Avenir. The building features sleek apartments — ranging from “flats” (just 300 square feet) and studios to one- and two-bedroom (835 square feet) units — as well as amenities like a screening room, a community room and a state-of-the-art exercise facility, as well as several “Think Rooms” for studying or for zen moments I imagine.
The party was open to influencers, and business leaders who enjoyed local bites and spirits. Avenir promotes itself as “micro living” at it’s best, but it didn’t feel claustrophobic, and 300 square feet didn’t seem as small as that number. (Be forewarned, micro living doesn’t mean micro rents.)
The location of Avenir is sweet, across from City Hall and Dilworth Park, near public transportation and a few blocks from the mega chic shopping on Walnut Street as well as a stones throw from the Shops of Liberty, where it was just announced the new Bloomingdale’s Outlet will be opening.
Photos after the jump »
There are plenty of luxury condos in this city (see: Claude Giroux’s new digs). There are few with as rich a back story as this triple-sized unit at The Barclay. If it looks like a residence fit for aristocracy, that’s because it was last the home of the late Lady Bessborough, countess of the same and wife to the late Earl of Bessborough, Viscount Duncannon. Before marrying into the aristocracy proper, the Randor native was already part of Philadelphia society, being related to both the Drexel and Biddle families.
The countess was known for many charitable interests – locally, for her support of Drexel as well as the American Philosophical Society – and was noted for her work to preserve Ben Franklin’s last existing home. Franklin’s residence on Craven Street in London proved to be fairly indomitable, having been twice bombed during World War II, set on fire in 1983 and flooded in 1987. Bessborough’s group helped complete repairs in 1996 and a decade later, the home opened to the public.
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A condominium for sale on the 29th floor of the Residences at the Ritz Carlton tower across from City Hall was featured in the New York Times real estate section last week as part of a feature called “What You Get for… $2.5 Million.” So, what do you get?
Well, you get a living room, dining room, and master bedroom all with a curtain wall of glass offering the view of City Hall’s clock tower at eye level. You get a foyer with a straight view through the living room out the windows. You get a special wing for guests with two bedrooms and a separate entrance. You get a master bath with “both a shower and a bathtub surrounded with white marble tiles shot with gray,” and a kitchen “styled with black cabinets, black-and-white granite countertops and gray tile floors.” You get a parking space, and access to a private park and a chauffeur-driven car and an on-site health club. (You do have to pay a little over $3,000 a month for those amenities.)
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The nearly four-acre lot this Chestnut Hill manse sits on could convince us to live there without ever even venturing inside. The rolling grass, the pond, the canal and the waterfall make for a downright arboreal setting.
Inside, the home is sprawled over more than 11,000 square feet of living space. Rooms almost universally feature outdoor access, whether via patio, terrace or balcony. In addition to formal entertaining spaces, there are well-appointed private spaces. Considering the six full and five partial bathrooms, the home appears to feature several metric tons of marble. There is a separate guest wing among the seven bedrooms.
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If you are like us, you have walked by this enormous property on Bainbridge Street en route to The Irish Times or Catahoula and wondered loudly what the compound was doing in the otherwise jam-packed Queen Village. Maybe you were taken aback by the palatial brick facade or the park-like yard with its stately trees and pillars (not to mention the wrought iron). Now that the $2.6 million home has hit the market, we know that the inside is just as grand as the outside.
The nearly 7,000 square foot property spans several parcels of land between 113 and 121 Bainbridge Street but manages to remain relatively private. Mature trees and shrubbery obscure the home’s multiple terraces and garden area from gawkers. There is also – obviously – a gated entrance as well as a security system and garage parking for up for four vehicles.
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When it comes to the housing market, it’s always a case of good-news/bad-news. Let’s start with the bad news: overall, sales are down this year. Now the good news: sales of luxury homes — that means sales of homes priced in the top 1 percent — are on the are way up. Big time. According to Redfin, at least 10 markets have seen more than 40 percent growth in the luxury category this year, with Philadelphia coming in at No. 10. The minimum price of a luxury home in Philly is $1.15 million.
Below, the national chart (click to enlarge) and the three local areas that have the highest sale prices.
We were surprised last summer when the Borie Estate made only its fourth appearance on the market in 200 years. We’re even more surprised that the sprawling estate didn’t sell and is back on the market again after a hiatus that began last January.
Perhaps it’s that the original owner — Charles Louis Borie, a chief architect for the Philadelphia Museum of Art — is back in the news (well, sort of). We can’t help but wonder how Borie would judge the latest plans for the museum. Our pat opinion on design issues tends to be if it’s good enough for Inga, it’s good enough for us. But then, it was Borie’s vision of an “acropolis-like” museum on a hill that gave us our current design, so we can’t be sure what he’d think of street-level entrances. Read more »
Associate broker Robin Gordon is one the top producers on the Main Line, having sold more than $1 billion of real estate in roughly 15 years, according to her marketing manager husband Michael Gordon. Now, Michael tells us, Robin is trying something new: She’s offering a fast-settle incentive of a two-year lease of a Bentley Continental GT convertible. Feel the wind in your hair! In your very well-coiffed hair! Realtor Michael says he thinks this car lease, courtesty FC Kerbeck, could start a new trend in luxury-home promotions, and that doesn’t seem far-fetched. Remember Caryn Black’s extravagant open house? That also featured luxury cars in a prominent role.
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Front view of 55 Maher Lane, Newtown, PA
This European country manor-style home is lovely on the outside, even verging on cute. Look at the pretty little fountain in the courtyard! And the small topiary!
Inside, the elegant living room (with yellow walls, by the way) has a chandelier hanging from very high ceilings. Back at ground level, a marble-surrounded fireplace with a fine mantle piece sits adjacent to light-generous windows and French doors leading to a private terrace.
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The phenomenal Vaux Hill in Phoenixville should rightly be a Winterthur-style tourist attraction with a Gettsyburg spin. According to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, it was originally a 300-acre farm purchased by James Vaux in 1772. Vaux was an amateur scientist, but a successful and influential one:
At his farm, James carried out scientific experiments in agriculture, becoming the first person to cultivate red clover in America, and also pioneered the use of anthracite coal for heating and cooking purposes. Accounts of his experiments can be found in early editions of the Franklin Institute Journal.
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