3737 Chestnut Changes Hands for $118M

3737 Chestnut, shown here in an architect’s rendering, was just sold for $118 million. | Rendering: BLT Architects via Radnor Property Group

One of the first of the new high-rise apartment towers that are reshaping the University City skyline has a new owner: Radnor Property Group announced today that it had sold 3737 Chestnut, a project developed in partnership with the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, to a joint venture of Korman Residential and The Carlyle Group for $118 million.

That’s a very nice return on Radnor’s original $92.5 million investment in the project, which was completed in the fall of 2015.

One of the factors contributing to the strong sale is the building’s occupancy status: all 276 of the apartments in the 26-story tower are currently occupied.

Radnor CEO Dave Yeager says the sale just made sense right now. Read more »

Philly Ranked Fifth Most Walkable City in U.S. This Year

All of Center City’s neighborhoods, from the Avenue of the Arts on down, are “Walker’s Paradises,” contributing to the city’s continued ranking among the five most walkable cities in the U.S. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

A mere two-tenths of a point dropped Philadelphia from its perch as the nation’s fourth-most-walkable city in this year’s Walk Score rankings of American cities.

Miami traded places with Philadelphia to become the No. 4 most walkable city in the U.S. on this year’s list. But no one should lament this development, for what it means is merely that cities all across America continue to up their walkability game.

A news release from Walk Score parent Redfin noted that once again, all of the 10 most walkable cities had higher Walk Scores than they did last year, and of the top 50, only Omaha saw its Walk Score fall (by a mere 0.3 point). Philadelphia’s Walk Score of 79 was 0.7 points above its showing last year, but Miami posted an even stronger gain of one full point to 79.2, putting it in fourth place and Philly in fifth. Read more »

Here’s Why Brookings Thinks Philly’s Innovation Scene Isn’t Competitive Enough

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iStockphoto.com | f11photo

A new report released on Thursday by the nonprofit Brookings Institution tries to tackle a major, eternally looming question for Philadelphia: With all of the city’s recent advancements in innovation, why isn’t Philadelphia more competitive on the national and global stage?

The answer: Philly leaders and institutions lack “a sense of collective urgency” to help the city intentionally connect the dots on how to best leverage its innovation capacity.

The report examined what it calls Philadelphia’s “innovation district” the area from 17th Street in Center City to 44th Street along Market in University City and South along the Schuylkill River to Grays Ferry and determined that this region, home to anchor firms and institutions like CHOP, FMC, the Science Center, Drexel, Penn, Comcast, IBX, and PECO, can be further developed and more interconnected to push Philly past its innovation tipping point.

Philadelphia’s Innovation District. Courtesy of Brookings.

But before the authors prescribed their recommendations on how to bridge the innovation district’s gaps, they took a deep dive into what continues to ail the district and also what keeps it alive. Here are the strengths and challenges identified in the report:  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 »

Jezabel’s Bar de Pinchos Is Back; Jezabel’s Studio to Open Mid-May

Alex Beaufort/Jezabel's

Alex Beaufort/Jezabel’s

Restaurateur Jezabel Careaga’s eponymous spot, tucked away at the eastern foot of the South Street Bridge at 26th and Pine Streets, is known for its proprietor’s Argentinian empanadas.

Next Thursday, May 11th, her monthly Bar de Pinchos — a variety of traditional bites served at the chef’s counter — is popping up again. And her second location, the retail-focused Jezabel’s Studio in University City, is anticipated to open very soon after.

Read more »

Go Eat Lunch Outside Today

R. Kennedy / Visit Philadelphia™

R. Kennedy / Visit Philadelphia™

After days of gray, rainy weather, the weather is warm and sunny — and it’s Friday. Sounds like the perfect excuse to treat yourself to al fresco lunch — without having to wait for a sidewalk table.

We have a list of quick, affordable, and delicious spots to grab a bite, coupled with the closest park, plaza or grreen space where you can get away from your desk, stake out a patch of grass, and soak up the spring weather.

Read more »

Kudos for a One-Man Community Development Corporation

Chestnut Villa at 40th and Chestnut streets, the building that launched Brooks on his real estate career. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Chestnut Villa at 40th and Chestnut streets, the building that launched Brooks on his real estate career. | Photos: Sandy Smith

For many years, the nicest building at the intersection of 40th and Chestnut streets in University City was the one with the sign reading “Chestnut Villa” on top of it. Neat and tidy, with crimson awnings over its storefront windows, it was a signal that at least one person cared about this sometimes-bedraggled crossroads on the fringe of the University of Pennsylvania campus.

The crimson awnings are still there, and it’s still neat as a pin. But redevelopment has caught up with it: across Chestnut from the Villa now rises a slick postmodern tower, the Brawer & Hauptman-designed Hub on Chestnut.

So Chestnut Villa’s owner, Ronald Brooks, has decided to renovate the building he has owned for the past 40 years to reflect the changed face of its surroundings. To mark the occasion, many of the other people whose lives and businesses he has helped fix up turned out to pay homage to him on Tuesday (April 11th) in a currently vacant storefront in his building. Read more »

Connoisseur: Amy Sadao

Amy Sadao. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou.

Amy Sadao. Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou.

Since becoming director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in 2012, Sadao, a Rittenhouse resident, has used her keen eye and business acumen to help catapult the University City museum to national recognition. Here, the acclaimed aesthete shares the places, people and things on her radar. Read more »

The Changing Streets of Cedar Park

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Photo courtesy of JJ Tiziou | www.jjtiziou.net

Monica Allison moved to West Philadelphia’s Cedar Park in 1997, buying a gorgeous red brick Victorian town house for $67,000. She’d been renting closer to the University of Pennsylvania, but her neighbors repeatedly called the police on her teenage son when he was home alone, just hanging out around the house. Allison, who is African-American, had to rush home from her job as an insurance underwriter time and again to find him handcuffed on the couch.

Even today, as the country’s increasing diversity makes racial isolation less common, Cedar Park is a rarity because of its longstanding mixture of black and white households. When Allison moved there, it had been roughly evenly comprised of black and white households since at least 1970, although the white population continued to slowly decline. That remained true even as the neighborhoods to the west, north and south of Cedar Park became more than 95 percent black. But by the end of the 1990s, Cedar Park’s white population plummeted to 27.9 percent as crime spiked and several high-profile murders racked the neighborhood. Read more »

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