Morning Headlines: Suit Claims Society Hill Condo Used in Sex-for-Rent Affair

421 Pine Street, via Google Street View

421 Pine Street, via Google Street View

So here’s a bizarre story to start off your Friday morning. According to Morgan Zalot of the Daily News, a “high-powered Brooklyn real-estate mogul” named Stuart Venner drew up a 40-year lease for his mistress to live in a Society Hill condo near 5th and Pine Street, probably not an uncommon story.

However, it’s way more complicated than a simple woman-on-the-side type affair:

But this wasn’t just any lease, the suit claims: The agreement allegedly allowed defendant Panadda Pratomtang to rent the property for $1 a month until 2053 “in return for her providing prostitution services to Board Member, [Stuart] Venner.”

To top it off, Venner named his wife, Grace Chang Venner, as the manager of a real-estate business called “421 Pine LLC.” Yes, that’s the address of the house and yes, that’s pretty much how Venner got caught in the act.

Venner told the Daily News that the allegations were “ridiculous … I don’t know anything about this.” The suit seeks the lease agreement to be terminated, attorney’s fees and punitive damages for Grace Chang Venner.

Wife’s lawsuit: Mistress paid for Society Hill condo with sex [Daily News]

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Zahav Becomes “Lamb Shack” for February


Executive chef of Zahav, Michael Solomonov

Zahav, Michael Solomonov’s flagship restaurant famous for its authentic Israeli cuisine, is becoming a “Lamb  Shack” from February 6-28.

The lamb, which is “an entire bone-in Colorado shoulder braised with pomegranate juice and chickpeas into a melting mountain of meat like you’ve never experienced,” has become something of a cult favorite for Philly diners and critics, but has historically only been an option for parties of nine or more due to the several day preparation process it requires.

In response to the public demand for lamb, Solomonov has decided to offer only his famous pomegranate lamb for the month of February (and a vegetarian option for the less carnivorous.) The Lamb Shack menu is $36 per person, and includes hummus and tehina, house baked pita, salatim, and “whomping hunks” of pomegranate lamb.

Also, if getting to try some of the most sought after lamb in Philadelphia isn’t enough for you, Zahav is inviting guests to BYO for the entire month of February at no additional charge.

Zahav [Foobooz]

Trinity Tuesday: Spacious Society Hill Home with a Trap Door

TREND photo via

Standing on one of those charming cobblestoned side streets on the edge of Society Hill is this residential heirloom: a trinity house built in 1865.

The classic home, which sits directly across from a small park that seems hidden-in-plain-sight and is within short walking distance to the tasty treats on South Street, includes a newer central air system (added in 2011), living room fireplace, and a charming back yard. One neat feature? A trap door in the kitchen. (Sorry, no secret rooms here. It actually leads to the basement, where the washer, dryer, and storage areas are.)

At nearly 1,100 square-feet, you’ll have plenty of room to maneuver in this not-so-typical trinity.

See the gallery below.

Reduced: Society Hill Townhouse With Bedroom Overlooking Washington Square

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach - Center City.

TREND photo via BHHS Fox & Roach – Center City.

Built in the 1970s, this red-shuttered city home has been relishing one of the nation’s most charming green heirlooms the for the better part of four decades.

Here’s a mini history lesson for those who didn’t realize how significant the historic space is:

  • It was one of the five original squares in Philadelphia laid out by Thomas Holme, William Penn’s surveyor, in 1682.
  • Between 1704 and 1794, it served as a potter’s field, but with the start of the American Revolutionary War, it was converted into a troop cemetery. (It depressed the hell out of John Adams who saw it and promptly wrote his wife, “I never in my whole life was affected with so much melancholy.”)
  • In 1816, the Square was the site of a tree-planting program that was meant to help revitalize the neighborhood. Fast-forward to 1975, and the lovely green space gets a super special tree planted in its dirt…the sycamore tree seeds that astronaut Stuart Roosa took to the moon on Apollo XIV. The moon tree still grows there to this day. (Bonus: It was planted “less than a hundred yards” from where the first balloon flight by a human in America occurred. More info here.

Now, back to the home (which was previously priced at $850,000)…

Now back to the home…

New Listing: Another Society Hill Contemporary Designed by I.M. Pei

237 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

237 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

Days after finding out one of I.M. Pei’s oeuvres was back on the market, this time as a rental, we now discover another one of his works is for sale. In true Pei style, this 1963 townhouse has a boxy construction with plenty of light-friendly openings, the most notable being the sky-lit circular staircase.

Hardwood floors are featured throughout, but the second-level living area includes built-in shelves, wood-burning fireplace and a Juliet balcony. (There’s also a den here, which can serve as a third bedroom.) The kitchen is on the first floor and boasts butcher block counters, double sink, trash compactor and GE double ovens, while the neighboring dining room vaunts four panel glass doors that open to a brick paved garden with access to gated parking nearby.

Gallery below.

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Back On The Market: Society Hill Stunner Designed by I.M. Pei

269 Saint Joseph's Way, Philadelphia, PA

269 Saint Joseph’s Way, Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Drew Callaghan

We wrote about this beautiful Bingham Court townhome in April when it was listed for sale and going for $1,395,000. It sold in August after a minor price cut, but a close source recently informed us that it was put on the market again. Sure enough, Zillow says the now rental was listed in November and is now asking for $7,000/month (two big notches down from the original $9,000/month).

Aside from being crafted by one of the masters of modern architecture, the home boasts a cozy wood-burning fireplace, high ceilings and a wall of windows to enjoy the sunlight. There’s also a gourmet eat-in kitchen with double sink, granite countertops and slate flooring, as well as appliances by Viking and Wolfe. The fridge is Subzero.

See Drew Callaghan‘s gallery below!

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Morning Headlines: 500 Walnut Gets Design Approval Recommendation

500Walnut-Rendering-new copy The proposed 500 Walnut tower that would overlook Independence Hall may have already received zoning approval, but its developer and architect still had one more group to convince for its design last week. This past Friday, they got just that as the Philadelphia Historical Commission gave the newly tweaked building an approval recommendation.

PlanPhilly’s Matt Golas reports Cecil Baker, the architect chosen for the Scannapieco Development project, presented his alterations before the commission, the commission’s Architectural Committe and the Philadelphia Art Commission. Changes included a proposal for the use of “greenish glass and metal curtain walls, with areas of stone classing to the base” and “a mix of metal-frame windows and multi-story window walls” for the upper floors.

Baker’s adjustments to 500 Walnut comes from input he received from commission members, local residents and the National Park Service. Here’s more from PlanPhilly: Read more »

Two Bells for Society Hill Society


Craig LaBan enjoys much of what he eats from chef Yun Fuentes’s menu at Society Hill Society. In particular he enjoys brunch and the fresh Pilsner Urquel.

His ode to pierogi are delicate, their handmade sour cream dumpling skins stuffed with truffled mashed potatoes over molasses-sweetened Vidalia onion jam. He tapas-izes chicken pot pie, tucking a creamy velouté of leg meat, carrots, and peas into croquette sticks that would please even the toughest Amish Spaniard. His summer peach soup is simply a gazpacho-good tribute to ripe local summer fruit, the sweet pureed peaches tanged with a hint of vinegar and garlic, sparked with salty bits of shaved ham and tiny floating spheres of creamy goat cheese.

Two Bells – Very Good

For another opinion on this Society Hill restaurant, read Trey Popp’s review of Society Hill Society from the October issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Society Hill Society inspired by the past [Philadelphia Inquirer]

TONIGHT: Guest Bartender, Weird Cocktails at Society Hill Society

society-hill-society-logoGuest bartender Sacha Durham, of Amada, will be joining Stephen Seibert behind the bar at Society Hill Society tonight in whipping up some weird but must-try cocktails. Enjoy the creations from 7 p.m. until close.

Industry folks get a 20% discount tonight at Society Hill, as well as every other Tuesday night, with proof of employment.

Check out the cocktail list and its unusual ingredients » 

Tuesday Trinity: A Wood-Beamed Beauty Near South Street

417 Gaskill St, Philadelphia, PA, 19147

417 Gaskill St, Philadelphia, PA, 19147

Sitting on narrow Gaskill Street (a quieter alternative to neighboring South Street), this three-story row house in Society Hill enjoys a modern/vintage design with its hardwood floors, exposed red brick, and new ceiling fans. A new air conditioner was also added in 2012.

In the kitchen you’ll find SS appliances, marble countertops, and exposed wood beams; second floor contains the only bathroom, while the third includes a second bedroom with custom-shelved closet. There’s also a sunken landing on the first floor and private back patio.

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