West Chester Woman Accused of Real Estate Ponzi Scheme

Federal authorities today charged a 43-year-old West Chester woman with an elaborate ponzi scheme to defraud real estate investors. United States Attorney Zane David Memeger said Marie Miksche Bontigao bilked lenders out of more than $2 million dollars.

According to the indictment, Bontigao set up the Tri-State Group franchise of EXIT Realty and solicited investments in real estate projects. Instead, authorities say, she used the money to operate her business and pay real estate expenses. She faces charges of wire and mail fraud.

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Boyd Theater’s Fate May (Finally! Really!) Be Decided Today

Today’s the day we’ll found out whether that last-second donor really will be able to preserve Center City’s Boyd Theater in something like it’s original form, or if redevelopment plans that would reuse the facade — and completely rebuild behind it — will proceed. Developer Neil Rodin and his client, iPic Pictures, are going before the Historical Commission  today to make the case for the latter scenario.

The case hinges on whether the developers can prove that preserving the property would create a financial hardship for current owners.

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Family Court Building to Become Luxury Hotel

The Inquirer reports: “In another major project for the Logan Square neighborhood, Mayor Nutter is expected to announce Tuesday that Kimpton Hotels will open a luxury hotel in the Family Court building at 1801 Vine St., according to people familiar with the project. … The Kimpton group was one of three that submitted proposals for converting the 73-year-old building into a hotel.” The project is estimated to cost $85 million. It would include 199 rooms, a ballroom, “meeting and board rooms, a spa and fitness center, and a restaurant and bar.”

WANTED: Chef for Standout Graduate Hospital Development

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Carpenter Square is one of the more impressive pieces of development going on in the Graduate Hospital section of Philadelphia. The materials stand out among the stucco bump-outs that dominate the development in the neighborhood. The project is bringing eleven townhouses to 17th Street and six condo units to the corner of 17th and Carpenter. On the ground floor, there are plans for a restaurant.

Developer Mark Scott, a Graduate Hospital resident, says the key to activating the plaza is to put a restaurant in the commercial space — specifically, one with a liquor license. Although the condo building is at present no more than a mound of dirt and a hole in the ground, the commercial space is actively being shopped by Jackie Balin of CBRE Fameco to potential restaurant tenants, with a focus on young chefs looking to strike out on their own.

PHOTOS: Carpenter Square, Halfway There, Seeks Restaurant [Property]

Can Someone Help James Dupree?
And Let’s Fix Eminent Domain
While We’re at It.

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Would someone please help James Dupree already?

For weeks I’ve been following his story.  Hopefully you know it by now.  In case you don’t, he’s the artist who owns a building in West Philly and he’s being forced out, under the city’s “eminent domain” rules in order to make way for a grocery store.  Apparently, the neighborhood really needs a grocery store.  So much so that the city is compelled to make him an offer he can’t refuse:  Sell his property at a much-lower-than-market price or watch his building be bulldozed.  Nice.  Dupree is fighting the city.  He’s enlisted some major people in the art world to back him up too.

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Redfin Names Philly’s Hottest Neighborhoods of 2014

Real estate website Redfin has named its hottest neighborhoods of Philadelphia for 2014, based on searches of its website and knowledge from its real estate agents:

Neighborhood                Median Sale Price

Wayne                                  $510,000

Elkins Park                          $219,450

East Passyunk Crossing    $222,450

Newbold                               $155,750

Haverford                             $285,800

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Philly Finally Reaches Land Bank Deal

In a closed-doors meeting late last night at City Hall, the two principal actors determining the fate of Council’s contentious land bank proposal reportedly reached a deal. Essentially the conflict came down to this. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez has been pushing for a while now for a land bank that would consolidate all the city’s vacant property, so developers could acquire and manage land in a straightforward fashion. (The city has upwards of 40,000 vacant parcels–it seems pretty straightforward that this is a good idea.)

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Philly Realtors Are Placing Classified Ads Looking for Sellers

Well, we knew the Philly housing market was doing pretty well, but not this well. So well, in fact, that local realtors have been putting up classified ads to find prospective sellers. With that, the term “buyer’s market” has been taken to its logical conclusion.

The number of buyers outweighing sellers is a “universal issue in the Delaware Valley,” says CBS, due to the historically low interest rates buyers have been met with. As a result, there has been little to show prospective buyers, leading to the seller search we see now.

So what’s the word for real estate now? Sell, sell, sell—the demand is there. I’m sure we’ve gotten over that subprime lending thing by now, anyways. [CBS]

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