Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New luxury townhomes coming to Rittenhouse Square fringe

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

2109 (right) and 2111 Market St

By the end of the year, this one-story commercial building at Walnut and Van Pelt streets on the western fringe of Rittenhouse Square should be gone, along with the buildings behind it and the parking lot next to it. In their place should be a dozen luxury townhomes.

The first step in the journey took place on April 4, when Licenses and Inspections issued zoning permits to redraw the lines for five deeded lots at four addresses in order to create 12 lots with a shared driveway easement.

The lots – two lots at 2108 Sansom Street, one at 2112-14 Sansom, one at 2109 Walnut (right in photo above), and one at 2111 (the parking lot) – will become the Van Pelt Mews townhome development.

Sign announcing Van Pelt Mews

The homes will range in size from 2,200 to 5,000 square feet and have three, four or five bedrooms, elevators, parking and rooftop gardens. As of now, nothing more about this project has been made public save that it is coming, as the already-graffitied sign and accompanying website state.

The entire block bounded by 21st, 22nd, Chestnut and Walnut streets is zoned CMX-4, which permits residential uses and governs height based on floor area ratio (FAR). As the FAR for CMX-4 is 5, with bonuses boosting the ratio to 7, whatever the developer of these homes proposes should be allowable by right.

Which means you won’t be reading about this project making its way through the Zoning Board of Adjustment steeplechase here. You will, however, learn more about its progress as we do.

Photos by the author

Planning Commission OKs memorial garden for collapse victims at 22nd and Market

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
The site of the Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market streets will become a memorial garden once the city acquires the site under legislation now before City Council. The City Planning Commission voted to endorse the bill at its April 15 meeting.

The site of the Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market streets will become a memorial garden once the city acquires the site under legislation now before City Council. The City Planning Commission voted to endorse the bill at its April 15 meeting.

The City Planning Commission granted approval at its April 15 meeting for the city to acquire the land where the former Salvation Army thrift store once stood at 22nd and Market streets, before the tragic collapse of a neighboring building that killed six people there last June, for a memorial garden for the victims.

On June 5 last year, the adjacent wall of a four-story building being demolished collapsed onto the thrift store in the middle of the day and killed the six people, all of whom were either employees or customers of the store. The tragedy led to the passage of new demolition regulations. The Salvation Army still owns the narrow site at the corner of 22nd and Market, which is right across Ludlow Street from the Mütter Museum.

The remains of the thrift store and the neighboring buildings were removed months ago, and both the sites are now dirt lots.  Family members of the victims had started a campaign to build a memorial on the site of the thrift store shortly after the collapse occurred.

The commission voted unanimously to endorse Property Bill 140224, which authorizes the Commission of Public Property to acquire 2140 Market Street, the site’s official address.  CIty Councilman Bill Greenlee (D-at large) introduced the bill for Council President Darrell Clarke (D-5th District; western Center City and North Philadelphia) on March 27. Planning Commission staff member Marty Gregorski, who introduced the bill at the meeting, explained that another bill would be necessary to transfer the property to the Department of Parks and Recreation at a later date. The garden will be designed by a landscape architect to be chosen by a competiton. As of now, there is no money budgeted for the garden at all, not even for the design.

Commissioner Pat Eiding asked about the large lot to the east where the collapsed building sat; Gregorski said that site would be turned into a parking lot, most likely a temporary one.  It was uncertain whether any development could happen before the litigation is complete concerning that site, and there is no word about whether the lot’s owner, Richard Basciano, who is the defendant in multiple lawsuits since the collapse occurred during demolition by a contractor he hired, will sell the lot anytime soon.  When one commissioner pointed out that it was a nice thing for the site to be preserved as a memorial, Gregorski mentioned that the Salvation Army had been very helpful and cooperative in the process.

This section of Market Street is likely to see more development soon, which is one reason why Basciano was demolishing the buildings he owned in the first place.  He was hoping to sell the site to a developer for profit, but now he may have to sell the site in order to pay his legal bills and possible judgments, possibly sooner rather than later.  The lot that he owns may become the site of a large building, since Mayor Michael Nutter previously said that that site would not be a part of the memorial garden.  Building this memorial would be a step towards healing and bring some closure to such a tragedy while starting to beautify this block and intersection, therefore making further development more likely.

Photo by the author

Why You Should Visit Philly – Especially If You Live Here

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Cheesesteaks and beer at Campo's Deli on Market Street in Old City

Yes, there are several cliches among those 31 reasons Philly’s underrated. But can you really dismiss good street food and good beer out of hand? Photo by Flickr user tylerkaraszewski, used under a Creative Commons license.

Philadelphians tend to have a love-hate relationship with their city. Surveys in the past have found that many residents would prefer living somewhere else if they had the chance.

Fortunately, this attitude is changing, especially as more new residents arrive from our of town and fall in love with the city. Many of these say the city is actually a great place to live and visit, and a growing number of writers from beyond the city now consider it an underappreciated treasure. One of them is travel writer Ellie Krupnick, who gave readers of The Huffington Post  “31 Reasons Philadelphia Is The Most Underrated City In America.”

As the HuffPo sees it, this city not only gets no respect from the people who live in it, it gets none from its coastal siblings either. New York, Washington, LA, San Francisco and Chicago all bask in glory while the City of Brotherly Love gets little of that commodity, the article says. (It does concede that “being ranked the fattest and the ugliest big city in America probably doesn’t help matters” either.)

But there’s a lot to recommend this place, from the lively and affordable BYOB dining scene at one end of the spectrum to our favorite convenience store chain, Wawa, at the other. The other 29 reasons Philly really rocks run the gamut from our signature street foods – soft pretzels and cheesesteaks – to some of our more outlandish entertainment and recreational traditions like the Naked Bike Ride and the legendary drag show at Bob & Barbara’s Lounge.

Food and drink seem to rank highly among the reasons to love this place, according to Krupnick. Besides the aforementioned BYOBs, soft pretzels, cheesesteaks and Wawa, other alimentary delights that rank highly with her include the Reading Terminal Market, the star chefs – both homegrown and imported – who have set up shop here, and lots of beer: in addition to the city’s strong craft beer scene, America’s Oldest Brewery and the Citywide Special both make her list of one thing to like for each day this month.

31 Reasons Philadelphia Is The Most Underrated City in America (The Huffington Post)

Photo by J. Varney for Visit Philadelphia

Rittenhouse Square Real Estate: A Look at Philly’s Urban Community

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Take a walk down Rittenhouse Square’s real estate areas and the fashionable streets are sure to guarantee a delightful respite from the metropolitan hubbub. The area is filled with some of Philadelphia’s swankiest restaurants, the most charmingly exclusive retail shops while simultaneously providing a fun, family atmosphere.

With its earlier humble beginnings as a pasture for local livestock, the town has since transformed and garnered its reputation as one of the most popular real estate opportunities in Philly today. A trip down the historic neighborhood will reveal distinguished 19th century homes with aristocratic Victorian influences, pleasant urban parks and plenty of beaches to people- watch. As Rittenhouse Square’s realRittenhouse Square: A Look at Philly’s Urban Community by Philly Living estate becomes a more valued commodity to homeowners, a new high-rise residential rental building has been recently constructed to compliment Rittenhouse Square’s neighborhood popularity.

Checking out 2116 Chestnut Street in Rittenhouse Square

As one of the newest Rittenhouse Square real estate developments, the 2116 Chestnut Street was erected with the newest architectural and construction techniques available. Visually stunning and elegant, it comes with a throng of environmental advantages with its higher sustainability and energy efficiency that sets it apart from other neighborly complexes. The simple design offers residents breathtaking views of the Philadelphia and Schuylkill River, and the floor to ceiling windows provides lots of natural light.

The features and amenities of the unit are comprehensive, guaranteed to provide a more than comfortable lifestyle with all of the features that homeowners need. There are a variety of floor plans available, including studio rooms and 1-2 bedroom units. The unit prices range from $1,800 to $3,686 depending on the square footage. The pet-friendly building offers a balcony view, business center, washer/dryer for convenience, dishwasher, wheelchair access, doorman for safety and many other services. The kitchen is state-of the art, perfect for homey dinners and fun parties. The units are stylishly furnished with carpeting in the bedrooms and overall living spaces, while the kitchen floors are covered tastefully in tiles.

Rittenhouse Square’s real estate offers city accommodations at a convenient location set away from the bustle of the city. Life in Rittenhouse Square guarantees an enchanting surrounding in this growing real estate area. 2116 Chestnut Street’s beautiful view, green-friendly features and latest finishes makes this Rittenhouse Square a great place for any prospective homeowner to finally call home.

Two, four, six, eight, how did our homes appreciate?

Friday, January 10th, 2014
House Price Appreciation Map

Pennsylvania’s average annual house price appreciation of 4.59 percent since 1975 puts it in the middle of the pack of all 50 states.

If you’ve lived in Pennsylvania since 1975, you’ve probably done okay with the value of your home.

If you haven’t, then how well you’ve done depends on when you moved here.

House prices in Pennsylvania have risen 4.59 percent per year on average over the period from 1975 through 2013.

But as with most of the other 49 states, this figure smooths over significant swings in the market over that time period. Homeowners who purchased their homes after the 2008 housing market collapse, for instance, have seen higher gains, while those who purchased their homes in 2003 have experienced a significant loss – more than 10 percent on average in Pennsylvania’s case.

There’s an interactive website that lets you examine the housing market performance, state by state, since 1975, with figures for the last quarter of 2013, last year, the last five years and the last 10 years, plus charts showing price changes year by year. Curious? Check it out.

New home starts surge in November: Blip or trend?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Homes under construction in Northern Liberties

Housing starts surged 23 percent in November. Analysts say this is the beginning of a near-term trend. Photo: Sandy Smith.

New home starts surged 23 percent in November, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The pace of home building hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million, a sharp rise from the prior month’s revised rate of 889,000.

Experts say this signals an end-of-year pickup in the national housing market after a slowdown that lasted through the summer and fall.

As to whether this uptick will prove durable, signals are mixed.

Homebuilder confidence, as measured by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, stands at a four-month high this month, with a level of 58. (Figures over 50 indicate builders are optimistic about market prospects.)

But building permits fell from October to November, dropping 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.01 million. However, that figure is well above the 933,000 figure posted a year ago at this time.

Analysts predict this uptick will carry the market into the spring.

(Los Angeles Times)

South Philly Area: Residential Growth and Rich Culture

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

While many Philadelphia areas have been major growth, the South Philadelphia area has been one of the few neighborhoods surrounded by reminders of its authentic past. Living in South Philly, residents are able to see the characteristics from yesteryear carry over to the present today. Take a stroll down South Philly neighborhood streets to experience a beautiful neighborhood that has held onto many of its quirky 19th and 20th century roots. South Philly is enriched with many Italian-American and Irish-American families that have worked and lived in the area for generations. The affordable residential homes include neatly lined row homes and low-rise apartment complexes. The layout of the neighborhood reveals a clean architecture for family- friendly accommodations and a safe environment.

With immaculately maintained homes and flourishing family-run small businesses, the town reveals a quaint living experience to delight South Philly residents. Living in South Philly means eating some of the best Italian food in Philly and accessibility to interesting family-owned variety stores. Due to the unique demographic make-up of the neighborhood, cultural diversity is rich. While South Philly has remained mostly unspoiled, exciting new social changes have started occurring to the neighborhood. Community development is lively and many different ethnicities are starting to call South Philly home. This indicates a forthcoming revitalization in the area that will lay the foundation for a developing South Philly in the future.south-street-south-philly-real-estate

Visit Popular Locales for a True South Philadelphia Experience


South Philly is home to many popular locations and residential favorites. One of the most visited areas for South Philly residents is the Italian Market. Considered the commercial heart of the Italian community, the thriving marketplace features many grocery stores, cafes, butcher shops, cheese markets, and restaurants. Located in the Bella Vista area, South Philly residents enjoy close accessibility to this one-stop-shopping marketplace.

After grabbing a bite to eat, have a ball at the Philadelphia Sports complex. The stadiums are comprised of three current facilities. Wells Fargo is home to The Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Wings, and the Philadelphia Soul. The second facility, Lincoln Financial Field, is home to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Temple Owls. Rounding out at the last facility, the Philadelphia Phillies call the Citizens Bank Park stadium home. Be sure to choose a side and get your ticket to watch some exciting games!

Another South Philly must-see is the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Illustrious for its historical significance, the Navy Yard has undergone a transformation in recent years. Since the 1990s, the Navy Yard has morphed into a vibrant mixed-use hub. The Navy Yard’s everyday use has been resuscitated with booming businesses, residential developments, mass transit and waterfront amenities. With a large investment in the area, progress will not slow as the area continues to expand. One thing is certain; South Philly is an area with a lot of potential for growth and exciting changes over the next few years.

Our Best Bets on Philly’s Second Casino License

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

When Sugarhouse Casino first opened its doors in 2010, revenue numbers of over $320 million dollars were projected during the first year alone. But the numbers ultimately came up short with a $190 million revenue in 2010, much less than the initially projected income. The differences between Sugarhouse and the other neighboring casinos are evident. In 2012, Sugarhouse was able to produce $8.9 million to its local government while Bensalem’s Parx Casino and Sands Casino doubled that amount to their own respective governments. With a new casino, it would support Sugarhouse and produce extra funds to benefit the school district and the city’s general funding. Our Best Bets on Philly’s Second Casino License by Philly Living

Casino License Up For Grabs: What it Means for Philly Residents


Six bidders are vying for the casino, and each bidder offers different locational attractions and aesthetics for the residents living in Philadelphia and for its visitors. The stakes are high with many different elements going into the final decision. The board is not taking the decision lightly and has completed a commercial analysis for the city, along with any potential monetary impacts the plans may have and how the casino could affect the neighboring communities and Sugarhouse.

The city is hoping that the casino will bring in a long-term profit and maximize the gambling profits in the Philadelphian region. This will benefit the residents living in Philadelphia, as the second casino will bring in jobs, tax revenue and gaming and non-gaming revenue for the city. The casino will be carefully chosen, with the handpicked casino selected for the greatest potential to bring on an optimal economic development, revitalize the area and bring in new visitors. Some of the city’s biggest concerns for the new development are with parking, traffic and security, all factors that have been taken into consideration. Hopefully, a new casino in town equals higher benefits to the local region by resuscitating the local businesses and infusing the job market with new careers.

With the bidders continuing to clamor for the license, the decision for the new casino license is expected by early 2014. With careful planning, the new casino license will bring good news for city taxpayers living in Philadelphia with higher property values for the surrounding areas and taxable revenue for the city.

Find Fairmount Schools That Meet Your Child’s Needs

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
Bache-Martin School

Fairmount’s neighborhood public school, Bache-Martin, benefits from the support of a strong and active Home and School Association.

Committed families have worked hard to improve and strengthen Fairmount schools, and as a a result, the neighborhood northeast of the Art Museum has a number of educational options families with children can consider. Use the resources below to learn about Fairmount schools and choose the one that’s right for your child:

Fairmount Schools

Public Elementary: Bache-Martin

Public High School: Julia Reynolds Masterman*, Franklin Learning Center*

Parochial Elementary: St. Francis Xavier

Parochial High School: Roman Catholic High SchoolJohn W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School

Private: Philadelphia Mennonite High School, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School

Public Charter: Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School, People for People Charter SchoolString Theory High School for the Arts & Sciences (currently enrolling 9th graders)

Queen Village Schools: Which Ones Rule?

Friday, July 26th, 2013
William M. Meredith School

The WIlliam M. Meredith School in the heart of Queen Village is one of the top performing public elementary schools in the city.

Queen Village, “Philadelphia’s first suburb,” attracts many homebuyers, and one of the amenities that attract them are the Queen Village schools. Maybe you’re thinking of moving to Queen Village yourself and want to know more about the educational options Queen Village schools offer. Look no further – we have the information you seek on the top schools right here:

Queen Village Schools

Public Elementary: William M. Meredith, George W. Nebinger

Public High School: Julia Reynolds Masterman*, Constitution High School*, Academy at Palumbo*, High School for Creative and Performing Arts*

Private Elementary: St. Peter’s School

Parochial Elementary: St. Mary Interparochial School

Parochial High School: Roman Catholic High SchoolJohn W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School

Public Charter: Christopher Columbus Charter School

*citywide magnet school

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