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Philly Real Estate Update

By Jessica Green | May 29, 2015 | Home & Real Estate Lifestyle

The residential scene continues to expand to outlying neighborhoods with new projects from Fishtown to Graduate Hospital.

The 125- year-old Curtis building undergoes a historic transformation.

Philadelphia is welcoming in the warmer months with a bounty of new real estate, and garnering the most attention are residential buildings with mixed-use components. The Curtis (601 Walnut St., 610-980- 7000), a 12-story building purchased by Keystone Property Group and Mack-Cali Realty Corporation, houses luxury apartments, office and retail space, and a ground-floor restaurant. Totaling 885,786 square feet, the historic Curtis opened in 1891 as the Curtis Publishing Company and produced popular magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post. “We’re harnessing the building’s prime location and rich cultural significance to create a central hub for residents, workers, and visitors from around the region,” says Bill Glazer, president of Keystone Property Group.

The mixed-use development, built on the existing infrastructure, offers apartments on the upper levels overlooking either Independence Mall or Washington Square.

The apartments will take over office space on the upper floors, all either overlooking Independence Mall or Washington Square. The remaining spaces on Seventh Street will stay offices, while the six additional spaces not currently in use are slotted for a coffee shop, spa, gym, bar, and retail shops. On the ground floor, a restaurant will find a home in the area along Sixth Street, while the iconic Atrium and surrounding areas will receive a makeover. The Atrium will be transformed into a hub for business workers who pass through the area every day, replacing the fountain and palm trees with a bar and wide archways. “The renewed streetscape is paramount to our mission to create energy around the building beyond the 9-to-5,” says Glazer. “The Curtis is a prime example of a building that can be enlivened and transformed by integrating a dynamic mix of uses into its existing infrastructure.”

The lobby will house a coffee shop, restaurant, spa, gym, bar, and retail shops.

This is the first major renovation in more than 30 years for the Curtis. The new vision for the property will surely revitalize this stretch of Philadelphia, where Center City East and Old City meet. “The transformation of The Curtis will offer our residents the urban conveniences and nightlife sought after by young professionals and empty-nesters alike, [people] who are looking to live in the heart of the city they love on one of its most iconic blocks,” says Jack Tycher, vice president of acquisitions at Roseland, a subsidiary of Mack-Cali Realty. “The fusion of modern living, historical aesthetic, and cultural relevance is a rare find in today’s luxury residential market. I’m confident that prospective residents will fully appreciate this value.”

On the other side of town, work is underway at 27th and Girard Streets. Brewerytown is undergoing a makeover, courtesy of MM Partners, with two major projects—one scheduled for completion in May and the other beginning development in June. The first, a 16-unit residential space and commercial property called the Braverman Building (2617–19 W. Girard Ave., 267-519-0895) will be the first five-story development on Girard Avenue. The name is an homage to the previous tenant, Braverman Bakery.

“We’re extremely excited about the imminent completion of the Braverman Building,” says Jacob Roller, a founder and partner of MM Partners. “This elevator building will have 16 apartments plus ground floor retail space, and features modern design both inside and out, for a living experience that is unique to Brewerytown,” says Roller. “We designed the floor-to-ceiling windows and common roof deck to take full advantage of the skyline views.”

Across the street, MM Partners and American Development Company are building a 68-unit apartment building called Girard27 (N. 27th St. and W. Girard Ave., 267-519-0895) on a lot that has been vacant for over 20 years. The space will also hold townhomes and 15,000 square feet of commercial space. “The site consists of a five-story residential and commercial building featuring apartments with parking and amenities, as well as a row of 10 townhomes,” says Roller. “We’ve always viewed this site as the ‘hole in the doughnut’ of Brewerytown, a city block-size piece of vacant land at the very heart of the neighborhood. Its development, beginning in July, will complete the long-simmering revitalization of West Girard Avenue.”

Harman Deutsch Architecture is now a major player in the recreation of Washington Avenue with a mixed-use building on 24th Street called 2401 Washington Ave.. Each of the 113 apartment units in the new five-story building will come with high end finishes, floor-to-ceiling windows, stainless-steel appliances, and a private balcony. Additionally, the space will have 57 parking stalls, a common terrace on the second floor, a private green space and dog run, and a public pocket park to be designed with local group South of South Neighborhood Association. The building will also have 8,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor along Washington Avenue. “I have been a Point Breeze resident for the past eight years, and I am excited that this project may be the start of a major transformation of Washington Avenue into a viable commercial corridor,” says Rustin Ohler, principal of Harman Deutsch Architecture.

This project would be among the first in a long list of developments slated for the area, says Ohler. “At a hearing in February, the zoning commission gave the project unanimous support,” he adds. “At the same hearing, a bill was introduced to restrict several industrial uses along the western portion of Washington Avenue. If passed, this bill will hopefully allow city planning and city council the time to remap Washington Avenue to be more conducive to this kind of mixed-use development.”

“The term ‘loft’ is often used very loosely,” says Alon Barzilay, but Northern Liberties’ Iron Mill Lofts “[offers] true loft living.”

If soaring ceilings are a must-have for your next home, two loft developments from Barzilay Development will pique your interest. Built in a former factory, the Iron Mill Lofts (1156 N. Third St., 844-215-2300), located in Northern Liberties, offers a living concept with a true loft feel. “The term ‘loft’ is often used very loosely and can refer to anything from a bi-level overhanging condition to a single-story flat apartment that happens to have slightly higher ceilings and a few industrial-themed finishes,” says Alon Barzilay, founder and CEO of Barzilay Development. “But Iron Mill Lofts [offers] true loft living, where there is expansive open space with soaring ceilings.” Comprised of 12 separate lofts, each unit has a private entrance, gourmet eat-in kitchens, European-style contemporary cabinetry, and ornamental exterior ironwork. But the most unique aspect is the building’s history. Originally built as Eagle Iron Works in 1871, the factory was used to manufacture steam engines. Today, the space maintains that charm, with the wooden ceilings, exposed brick, and original ductwork left intact. “There are plenty of other choices for industrial-themed apartments [in] Northern Liberties, but these are real lofts that include separated bedrooms and are highly privatized,” says Barzilay. “This development caters to a more sophisticated resident who values individual private access from the street through their own front doors, much like a townhouse.”

The second project from Barzilay is the Sanctuary Lofts (2319 Fitzwater St., 844-215-2300), a converted church property in Graduate Hospital. With stained-glass window treatments, a lobby with a church pew, and cathedral ceilings, the space still evokes the 180-year-old church that came before. But with large windows, granite countertops, and state-of-the-art appliances, it has all the modern amenities one looks for in a living space. “This building offers a unique juxtaposition of historic character,” says Barzilay. One- and two-bedroom units are available, ranging from 381 square feet to 1,400 square feet. “This is the first large-scale church in Philadelphia that has been reinvented as loft-style rental apartments,” he says. “Most old churches in the area have been torn down by wrecking balls, [but] we take great pride in our commitment to historic preservation.”

Photography by:

photography by greg benson (Façade)