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May 2012

There are 44 blog entries for May 2012.

Buildings Then and Now: Twisted Tail Saloon

One of Philadelphia's newest "public houses" may also be one of its oldest. The Twisted Tail 509 South Second Street in 1960According to an essay by Michael Schreiber at the Queen Village Neighbors Association, Daniel and Susan McKarraher opened the first tavern to occupy this building in 1799. Their history, related in the essay, is perhaps even more interesting than that of the building. The street we now know as Naudain was called Relief Alley then, and we suspect that many locals seeking relief from their travails called on the McKarrahers, who lived over their business, as was common in the 18th century. Might this history make 509 S. 2nd St. the oldest tavern building in the city? Speculation about this is rampant at Philadelphia Speaks. It's…
3,352 Views, 0 Comments.

Construction update on tasty Rittenhouse renovations

By Greg Meckstroth Shake Shack It seems like just yesterday that we were reporting on Shake Shack’s ongoing renovation progress with photo updates on its new façade and speculative reporting as to when it was going to open.  Since then, a lot has happened surrounding one of the most anticipated casual eateries to open in Center City in some time.  The shiny new signage has been installed, interior renovations are nearly complete, and it has hired staff and is now in the process of training them.  More recently, we have come to learn that the Shack will officially open on June 6, just in time for a summer Shake Shack lunch every day in nearby Rittenhouse Square.  When it does open, you better believe we’ll be…
2,186 Views, 0 Comments.

Homeowners, businesses think inside the box

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="624" caption="A home constructed from a used shipping container, designed by HyBrid Architects of Seattle"][/caption] And now from the Pacific Northwest, home to some of the most eco-conscious citizens in the country, comes the latest trend in recycling - a home that gives new meaning to the term "trailer park." NPR reports that architects and businesses in the region have taken to adapting discarded shipping containers for use as residential and commercial space. They call it "cargotecture." It's the last word in modular construction for sure. A containerized eatery can be placed on a flatbed and shipped off to a more promising location if business flags, for…
1,659 Views, 0 Comments.

Cigar bar coming back to Walnut Street

Holt's and Mahogany on Walnut By Greg Meckstroth In a continuation of the retail merry-go-round that Center City’s Walnut Street has been particularly prone to as of late, a new cigar bar will soon open at 1522 Walnut Street.  Not surprisingly, the new bar will be right above the current Holt’s Cigar Company location and replace the former Mahogany on Walnut cigar bar that recently closed.  What is not yet known are the owners or the name of the establishment (it may just be Cigar Bar), but what we can say is Center City residents will likely welcome the bar seeing as it fills a large void in the area's restaurant/bar scene. What is also unclear is whether the new owners have any association with the old…
9,271 Views, 0 Comments.

When the abatement expires, a big surprise

Add to the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the City of Philadelphia's ongoing property reassessment program this latest shocker: Owners of tax-abated properties getting their first post-abatement tax bills. Let's just say some of them aren't happy. Especially if they bought homes with only a few years left on their 10-year abatements, as Jennifer Laxson did. Her tax bill on her Graduate Hospital home soared from $453 to more than $10,000. Part of the problem, writes Troy Graham in a Philadelphia Inquirer story on expiring tax abatements, is the city's still broken property assessment system. The ongoing reassessment project, known as the Actual Value Initiative, is supposed to fix that. But homeowners are…
3,712 Views, 0 Comments.

Philly's parks: Our real estate ace in the hole?

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Cresheim Creek in the Wissahickon Valley section of Fairmount Park. The valley's 4,167 acres make it one of the country's largest urban parks all by itself - and it accounts for less than half of the 9,200-acre-plus park system."]Cresheim Creek photo[/caption] "Let's take a long walk around the park after dark..." Philly native Jill Scott could do just that, thanks to the city's extensive park system - and it probably inspired her to open the refrain of her first hit song with that phrase. Now comes evidence that Philadelphia's parks and playgrounds may be genuine assets that make Philadelphia real estate more valuable too. Just as Seattle-based Walk Score has made…
1,827 Views, 0 Comments.

Green homes get green light from Planning Commission

At its special meeting on May 29, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted to approve the plan of development for Four Forty Four North Front Associates' proposed townhome development at 412 N. Front St. Vacant lot proposed for Front Street townhome development This project, which we caught wind of last month, has been modified a bit from its original design, a changed forced on the developers when their subsurface surveys found an eight-foot box culvert storm sewer running under the property in a 40-foot right of way for a street not marked on city plans. As a result, the development will have only 32 townhomes, down from the 35 originally proposed. The ghost street will become the access point for the interior homes' garages and surface parking…
1,924 Views, 0 Comments.

Walk this way to higher real estate values

Rittenhouse Square This bit of news comes to us from Washington, but it may well apply here too: The more walkable the neighborhood, the more valuable the real estate. That's the main finding of a just-released study of Washington metropolitan area property values released by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. The study found that in a reversal of the general trend over the past several decades, house values, residential and commercial rents all rose as neighborhoods became more walkable. The residents of those neighborhoods were also more affluent and better educated than those in less walkable neighborhoods. They also spent less on transportation and more on housing - and more on the two combined. Study co-author…
2,204 Views, 0 Comments.

Appraiser says Philly real estate in good shape

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Even modest row houses like these have managed to hold their value, says a Philly real estate appraiser."]Row of houses[/caption]

Philadelphia real estate appraiser Ray Ohler says that the city's real estate market is in surprisingly good shape.

He should know. He left it in 2009, after the housing bubble burst, and moved to the Tampa Bay area, where he found the collapse even worse. He returned this year to find that prices have managed to hold up in places he hadn't expected them to, like Port Richmond, where rowhomes along East Lehigh Avenue still fetch six figures. Read the whole story here: Philly Deals | He takes a fresh look at Philadelphia real…
2,528 Views, 0 Comments.