Pulse: Real Estate: Boom or Bust?

The state of Center City’s high-rise real estate

What seemed a hard sell before the economy tanked — scads of soaring new Center City condos, all luxe, all with sky-scraping prices — appears downright absurd in Philly’s post-crash reality. Experts, though, remain sunny. "There’s still enough demand relative to the amount of units," insists Wharton economist Kevin Gillen — especially in the long run. Good news, sure — though for the time being, it might be a little lonely at the top. Here, the current condo rundown.

THE BUILDING: The Murano, 2101 Market Street
TAGLINE: “Experience the height of modern living.”
THE NUMBERS: $165 million project; 42 stories; from $400,000 (1 BR) to $2 million-plus (penthouse).
THE BACKERS: Thomas Property Group and P&A Associates (who also did the St. James). Opened in June 2008. Rumor had it going rental, but brass says rentals are owner sublets.
SELLING POINTS: Floor-to-ceiling windows; relatively lower price points (perhaps thanks to location on Market, just down from the Forum adult theater?); private balconies; sundeck, spa, 60-foot lap pool, massage room, bamboo flooring.
INVENTORY: Total units: 302; Unsold units: 90

THE BUILDING: Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, 1414 S. Penn Square
TAGLINE: “Luxury Redefined.”
THE NUMBERS: $330 million project; 48 stories; from $562,350 (1 BR) to $12 million (penthouse).
THE BACKERS: The Arden Group (whose other high-end hotels and residences are scattered about the country). Opened in December 2008.
SELLING POINTS: Concierge and private chef services; floor-to-ceiling glass windows; babysitting and pet-walking services; residents-only park and garden; Eric Ripert’s 10 Arts next door; saying you live at the Ritz.
INVENTORY: Total units: 270; Unsold units: 108

THE BUILDING: Residences at Two Liberty Place, 50 S. 16th Street
TAGLINE: “It’s different up here.”
THE NUMBERS: 57 stories (see below); from $795,000 (1 BR) to $15 million (penthouse).
THE BACKERS: Art Falcone of the Falcone Group, a developer new to Philly. Opened in March 2008. Units are in the top 20 of Two Liberty Place’s 57 stories.
SELLING POINTS: Touchscreens let you order a dog-grooming at the in-house pet spa, or get picked up in a chauffeured town car; Daniel Stern’s Rae will move into the 37th floor by fall 2009; you share an address with the likes of Richie Sambora, Tom Knox and Cole Hamels.
INVENTORY: Total units: 102; Unsold units: 30

706 Rittenhouse Square, 1706 Rittenhouse Square
TAGLINE: “Only one.”
THE NUMBERS: $145 million project; 31 stories; from $4 million (full-floor units) to $12.5 million (penthouse, which just sold).
THE BACKERS: The Parkway Corp. and Scannapieco Development Corp. Designed by Cope Linder, the architecture firm behind the Borgata’s new Water Club in A.C. Set to open in spring 2010.
SELLING POINTS: 1 block from the Square, 1 residence per floor; automated parking system brings your car around without a human ever touching it. Plus, Joanne Hudson-designed kitchens, floor-to-ceiling windows, private garden, fitness center and on-call massage.
INVENTORY: Total units: 31; Unsold units: about 15

THE BUILDING: Symphony House, 440 S. Broad Street
TAGLINE: “Luxury living on the Avenue of the Arts.”
THE NUMBERS: $125 million building; 32 stories; from $600,000 (1 BR) to $4 million (penthouses, both sold).
THE BACKERS: Carl Dranoff and Dranoff Properties. Opened June 2007. The Inky’s architecture critic slammed the structure’s pink-tinted edifice — but inside, the residences are almost all sold.
SELLING POINTS: Glamorous location on the Avenue of the Arts; Du Jour Market and the Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Suzanne Roberts Theatre downstairs; standards like a spa and pool, and not-so-standards like a wine room with private wine lockers.
INVENTORY: Total units: 163; Unsold units: about 15

THE BUILDING: 10 Rittenhouse Square, 10 Rittenhouse Square
TAGLINE: “Philadelphia’s Ultimate Address.”
THE NUMBERS: $250 million project; 33 stories; from $714,000 (1 BR) to $4.5 million (3 BR).
ARCWheeler. Designed by Robert A.M. Stern (the brains behind the Comcast Center). Set to open in fall 2009.
SELLING POINTS: Besides that address? Miele and Sub-Zero appliances; marble baths; a concierge; garden terrace; indoor pool; plus a not-yet-announced signature restaurant and a — wow! — Barneys Co-op scheduled to open in April 2009.
INVENTORY: Total units: 140; Unsold units: 60

The Waldorf-Astoria, 1441 Chestnut Street
TAGLINE: “Living. Legend.”
THE NUMBERS: $420 million hotel/condo project; 58 stories; from $1 million (1 BR) to $15 million (penthouse).
THE BACKERS: Owners are Tim Mahoney and Brook Lenfest. Developed by Mariner Commercial Properties and Gatehouse Capital. Breaks ground in January 2010; opens in spring 2012.
SELLING POINTS: Super eco-friendly (LEED-certified); access to hotel amenities and services; indoor pool; in-house spa, restaurant and retail space (specifics yet to be named); the highest walk-out terraces in the city; 8 custom homes with private elevators.
INVENTORY: Total units: 136; Unsold units: 136 — the sale center opens this month.