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For most of our country's history, banks have built buildings that were meant to convey a sense of stability and permanence. Those little Cape Cod houses and low-slung modern boxes are both relatively recent phenomena; in the 19th and early 20th centuries, a local bank would most likely be an imposing stone structure, probably borrowing elements from Greek temples. We found one such building in our travels recently, a handsome stone structure with a mix of Greek and Victorian decorative elements. This, which we assume are the bank's initials, is one of them. Where did we find it? (Maybe a history buff can also tell us what the initials stood for.)

Answer next week.

Photo by the author

Last week's Hidden Treasure Hunt answer: Apparently, none

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If you've been following along with our previous posts on this subject, you should know now that the best option for financing your home is to come up with a 20 percent down payment. If you can save that much in a reasonable period of time, that remains the way to go. You may be able to find fat to trim in your budget (we offered some advice on this in a previous post) to save more faster.

But it may well be the case that coming up with 20 percent just isn't feasible. Don't worry. There are options available that can get you on the road home for a smaller upfront investment.

Carina Marchese, loan officer with Philly Living lending partner Huntingdon Valley Bank, offered three low- or no-down-payment options for financing your home purchase:

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When we checked out progress on Bru late last month, the tracks (on brick wall at left) were ready to be laid and work was progressing on the walls, floor and bar.

Philly's first U-Bahn station is almost ready to open.

Wait, you say. They have those in Germany, not here. 

Well, since this particular "subway" is located beneath Brü Craft & Wurst, what else would you call it?

That was what Brü owner Teddy Sourias figured. So that's the name he gave his new underground music venue and hangout at 1320 Chestnut St. in Washington Square West's Midtown Village/Gayborhood section.


The entrance to U-Bahn. No turnstiles.

And it's also the source of the space's interior design. Exposed brick walls, metal beams with wooden slats that resemble

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Philadelphia sits astride the nation's single most productive economic region, and 30th Street Station is at the hub of its spine. That makes now a great time to turn it into an extension of the city's resurgent downtown, panelists at a CPDC discussion argued.

"William Penn's original map of Philadelphia had borders, and the borders were the rivers. We've clearly outgrown that."

And how. The institution that employs Keith Orris, who said this at yesterday's Central Philadelphia Development Corporation membership meeting, is one reason why.

A steady march of jobs and residents westward across the Schuylkill has turned the western border of Center City into a thread tying together two city centers, much as the Chicago River now ties together the

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Median home sale prices rose throughout the Philadelphia region last month; Some apartment dwellers treat the city's rule against fresh-cut Christmas trees with a nod and a wink; Philly finally gets an honest-to-God observation deck atop one of its tallest buildings; and a new developer will build a shorter "Fergie Tower":

Regional median home sale prices rise in November (Daily Local News)
Skirting Phila.'s sapling statute: A holiday tree tradition (The Philadelphia Inquirer|Philly.com)
Liberty Place observation deck aimed at expanding city's tourism scene (Philadelphia Business Journal)
Parking lot where 'Fergie Tower' was proposed sold to Goldenberg Group (Philadelphia Business Journal)
 

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It is possible to buy a home without putting down 20 percent of its purchase price up front. But it will cost you more to do so. Depending on what your lender asks in return for the lower down payment, the extra costs could be sizable over the life of your mortgage.

The one extra cost almost all lenders require in exchange for a lower down payment is the premium for private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI protects the lender against financial loss should you default on your mortgage before you have acquired 20 percent equity in your home. The premium could add anywhere from several hundred dollars to $1,000 or more annually to the cost of your loan. The good news, however, is that the requirement to purchase PMI goes away in most cases once your

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Generally speaking, the only buyers who put down 100 percent of the purchase price of a new home are experienced investors and house-flippers. The rest of us borrow most of it, but putting something down protects both the buyer and the lender. 20 percent is the recommended amount.

If at all possible, you should not begin your search for a new home until you know you will be able to put up at least 20 percent of the purchase price as a down payment.

Why? Because doing so will spare you a good bit of additional expense and some possible headaches when you're ready to buy your home.

But why 20 percent?

It turns out that is the amount that ensures that the lender doesn't lose money should you default on your mortgage. If the lender ends up taking

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The Gallery's owners drop hints that the makeover will turn it into a premium fashion outlet mall; Finally, someone responded to the SS United States Conservancy's SOS; Say goodbye to the Four Seasons next summer, at least for the next three years, as it will close for transformation into an as-yet-unnamed new luxury hotel. The Four Seasons will see you in the new Comcast tower in 2018; and the development of a secret shelter for battered women in Germantown blows a hole in Nutter Administration arguments about the new zoning process being more open and transparent, a hole City Council is now moving to plug:

Fashion outlets to The Gallery? (Philadelphia Business Journal)
The SS United States is Safe—For Now (Philadelphia magazine) 
Four Seasons to close

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As you read this, the last remaining fragment of the former Snellenburg's department store in the 1100 block of Market Street in Center City is being reduced to rubble.

Demolition crews began tearing down the building from the rear late last week, as this photo provided by the developer show.

In the time between the ceremonial groundbreaking and the actual start of work, the project developer and SEPTA apparently figured out a way to maintain access to the Market Street subway concourse, which runs next to the building, while demolition takes place. Signs over the construction scaffolding indicate that the entrance to 11th Street subway station in front of the building remains open.

We will keep you apprised of further progress on this project.

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Peco Energy will soon determine the winning bidder for its former Delaware Generating Station on the waterfront in Fishtown; the petition to add the Legendary Blue Horizon to the city's historic register is put on hold; PREIT forges ahead with its previously announced Gallery makeover, starting with sending kiosk owners packing; and the history of a North Philadelphia neighborhood is reflected in the afterlife of John Windrim's "Diamond Exchange" building for Bell Telephone:

PhillyDeals: Exelon weighing offers for Peco power plant site (The Philadelphia Inquirer|Philly.com)
Continuance Granted for the Blue Horizon (Hidden City Daily)
No holiday cheer at The Gallery (Philadelphia Daily News|Philly.com) 
A North Philly Building's Direct Connection to the

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