North Broad is thriving as Center City and the Main Line add to their growing rosters of residential spaces.
The revitalization of North Broad is shaping up with another project from Eric Blumenfeld, as the former Thaddeus Stevens School of Practice will be transformed into the new Mural Lofts building (523 N. Broad St., 866-523-5638). Keeping many of the original details intact, the historic school will house 56 lofts, all of which will retain many of the original elements—including the window details, the wood cabinetry, and even the school’s chalkboards. The Common Threads mural that the building is known for will also be preserved.
“The Mural Lofts building, with its welcoming courtyard, famous mural, and intricate tile work, will act as a gateway building to the North Broad Corridor and help unite our growing community,” says Chris Cordaro, vice president of EB Realty Management Corporation. Updated features will also be incorporated. “The building will have a roof deck for common use with an amazing view of the city,” he says. And building residents will also have access to the amenities at Lofts 640—including a rooftop deck, pool, gym, and hot tub—a three-minute walk from the Mural Arts Lofts.
Blumenfeld is no stranger to the Philadelphia real estate world. His father, Jack W. Blumenfeld, built the now iconic 45-story building at 1500 Locust, at a time when Locust Street was outside the realm of Center City. Following in his late father’s footsteps, Blumenfeld now sees a brand-new area to build up. “When I was a kid growing up in Philly, the vibe was completely different than it is today,” he says. Blumenfeld credits the boom in Philadelphia real estate to the dynamic restaurant scene. “Neil Stein came along and made us hipper and cooler, and then Stephen Starr exploded, and we were on our way,” he says. “[But] it was Marc Vetri who really raised the bar with the chef-driven concept of monumentally great fine dining. Right now, I feel like we are more poised than ever to accelerate our trajectory.”
That trajectory is becoming reality because of the solid team Blumenfeld has put in place—Richard Sauder designing, David Chou leading the engineering aspect, and Domus providing the construction efforts. But it was Procida Funding & Advisors, which is backing the project with investments reaching over $16 million, that made this project possible. Founded by Billy Procida, the company shares Blumenfeld’s vision of North Broad. “I like to invest [locally] with locals,” says Procida. “[Blumenfeld] has the vision and controls the best assets in the North Broad real estate market.” Both agree that this is Philadelphia’s time to shine in the realm of real estate. “We are more organized, more together, and more productive than at any other period in my lifetime,” says Blumenfeld. The project is currently under construction, and occupancy is expected later this year.
Indeed, loft living is at the forefront of the Philadelphia residential market, and 1352 Lofts (1352 South St., 215-546-1226) is the newest building pushing the trend forward. Located on the Avenue of the Arts, the building takes loft living to the next level with sky-high ceilings and views of the surrounding neighborhood. The sizeable spaces (they range from 1,100 to 2,500 square feet) are pet-friendly, single and bi-level, have custom finishes throughout, and many also include private balconies, an outdoor terrace, and large walk-in closets. “1352 was created to bring natural light to the forefront and give owners the space one desires in a city like Philadelphia,” says Gaurav Gambhir, principal of The Condo Shop and sales director at 1352 Lofts. “The main focus was to provide stunning loft spaces. But the building isn’t an older converted warehouse—it is a true ground-up building.”
The building also offers unparalleled amenities outside of the apartments. An advanced security system is enhanced by the presence of 24/7 staffing in the lobby, and a concierge is on hand for tenants. As an added bonus, residents also receive a membership discount to The Sporting Club at the Bellevue, located a few blocks away. “No matter where you live in the city, there never seems to be enough actual living space, but the lofts’ open qualities allow for grand footprints, [fit to be styled] as it suits an owner while still being equipped with top-of-the-line fits and finishes,” says Gambhir. “That is the pièce de résistance.”
Leaving the city doesn’t have to mean leaving luxury. The Royal Worthington (45 Creekside Lane, Malvern, 610-644-2000) takes Main Line living to the next level with fully furnished units available in layouts from studios to three-bedrooms. “Philadelphia and the Main Line are two of the most sophisticated communities in the world today from every aspect—culture, wealth, shopping, education, knowledge, and more,” says J. Brian O’Neill, chairman of O’Neill Properties Group, which developed the building. “My idea with The Royal Worthington was to build the finest apartment complex in the country, not just the Philadelphia area, and to provide something to Philadelphians that they never got before.”
Each unit comes standard with a full kitchen and the option to upgrade to customized furniture that fits your décor needs. Residents also enjoy a heated pool and sun deck, a fitness center, entertainment pavilion, and movie theater. “Every detail, from the scale of the common area and lobbies and the sophistication of the pool to services like dog walking, bike rentals, electric car share—it’s all designed to make luxury apartment residents and hotel occupants realize what a sophisticated town and city we are,” says O’Neill.
The space also offers furnished suites available for rent the same way you would book a hotel room. But unlike a hotel, these suites resemble luxury apartments with a fully equipped kitchen, Ralph Lauren furnishings, free high-speed Internet, and access to all the resident amenities—including a daily newspaper, complimentary freshly baked cookies and Starbucks coffee each day, fire pits, dry-cleaning service, and the outdoor space, which, according to O’Neill, was modeled after Parisian courtyards in order to encourage social interaction between guests and residents.
“What people don’t realize is that Malvern is the size of downtown Philly, so for that level of concentration of people to not have a five-star hotel and apartment building was a major void,” says O’Neill. “So we decided to spend more, design better, include more services, and exceed the offerings in the city and outside in the suburbs—and it has worked really well. The site has far exceeded our expectations.”