Phillie Phanatic Smothers Carl Dranoff at Southstar Groundbreaking

Groundbreakings are always exciting, what with the crowds and the photo ops and the smell of new construction in the air. Inviting the Phillie Phanatic to greet a crop of real estate agents, city officials and media types takes things to an entirely new level.

Such was the scene at the Suzanne Roberts Theater, where Dranoff Properties announced its newest project, the Southstar Lofts, and feted the 20th anniversary of the Avenue of the Arts. “It’s a new beginning for South Broad Street,” Carl Dranoff proclaimed. The Phanatic pumped his fist in the back of the room.

The $32 million development is due to open at Broad and South next spring. Southstar will feature 85 luxury units, ranging from studios at 541 square feet to two-bedroom units at more than 1,000 square feet. Units will all feature floor-to-ceiling windows. Downstairs, more than 10,000 square feet of ground-level retail space is slated to become a restaurant with outdoor dining space, as well as a coffee bar, among other things.

Dranoff said the building is intended for a “new generation of Center City residents.” Deputy Mayor and Managing Director Richard Negrin was quick to agree, reminding everyone that Philadelphia recently reported its sixth consecutive year of growth.

In order to accommodate these intrepid new downtowners, Dranoff is touting a revitalized Avenue of the Arts as well as a number of eco-conscious details about the project. In addition to being designed for LEED registration, the building will feature an electric car charging station. Residents will also have access to an expanded (but still complimentary) Dranoff Bike Share program. There will be 39 spaces in the underground parking lot, but Dranoff was eager to point out that Southstar is situated along several Septa routes.

To mark the occasion, Dranoff put together a time capsule designed to be opened in 2043, at the Avenue of the Arts’ 50th anniversary. Avenue neighbors contributed items including a menu (Sbraga), a ballet slipper (the Pennsylvania Ballet) and a bellman’s cap (Symphony House). The Phillies and the Eagles also contributed items, as did local arts organizations including the Philadelphia Theater Company, the Wilma Theater, the Walnut Street Theater, the Kimmel Center, and University of the Arts.

Southstar is Dranoff’s third property along South Broad Street, including 777 South Broad and Symphony House. Dranoff recently moved the company headquarters to the 777 S. Broad building.

“I live on the Avenue,” he said, “I invest on the Avenue. I build on the Avenue.”