Philly’s Amenity-Packed Super-Luxe Condo Market

Philly's luxury market is charging into uncharted territory, and the view from the top is better than ever (robots included).

A rendering of 500 Walnut’s 4,000-square-foot treetop terrace. Courtesy of Cecil Baker & Partners/ Scannapieco Development Corp

After years in Bryn Mawr, Wharton professor Peter Fader and his wife were ready to move to the city. But instead of settling for typical Philly luxury — an apartment in a Rittenhouse Square high-rise or a Delancey Street townhouse with a postage-stamp courtyard, two options that have cornered the city’s high-end market for the past few decades — they chose to buy into One Riverside, Dranoff Properties’ shiny new Fitler Square tower. And they’re not alone: The building was 80 percent sold before opening.

Their choice signals a new type of luxury living in Philly. Almost a decade after the recession, Philly’s super-luxe market is more than back — it’s got a whole new look thanks to amenity-packed Manhattan-esque condo towers like One Riverside and Scannapieco Development’s 500 Walnut, projects that are redefining how the one percent live in our city.

But these buildings — the first two condo towers conceived and built since 2008 — don’t merely serve up swank. They also deliver smart perks that play to their core market: downsizing baby boomers ditching the ’burbs for a hassle-free “lock and leave” lifestyle. (As Fader says, “We wanted to be able to live on one floor, shut the door, and not worry whether there was a bad storm coming.”) There are the requisite gyms and pools, but also separate guest suites, valet parking (500 Walnut is the first in the country to offer robotic parking with wireless induction charging for electric cars), and ample outdoor space in the form of terraces, private gardens, outdoor kitchens and sweeping balconies.

Still, the condos themselves are the ultimate draw, with floor plans configurable to a degree not seen in high-rises before. And buyers are shelling out cash for the customization: At 500 Walnut, they’ve paid top dollar to buy whole-floor apartments (or, in the case of the record-shattering $17.85 million penthouse, two full floors and a rooftop terrace) that they can lay out as they please.

“These are the equivalent of units you’d find in any world-class city,” says Tom Scannapieco, CEO of Scannapieco Development. “They’re buildings with a small number of units that create an intimate scale and bring like-minded people together.”

So are these condos a blip on the radar, or the start of a new era of luxury living? Neither Scannapieco nor Dranoff is saying. But they’re surveying the landscape. They know the buyers are out there.

Published as “High Life” in the June 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.