Planned Smallman Place Condos In Strip District Selling Fast

Sales agreements are in place for about two-thirds of the 36 condominiums that a suburban Philadelphia developer is planning in the Strip District, months before construction is set to begin.

The Smallman Place condos went on the market in the first week of April.

“If you have the right project at the right place and the right price, you can be successful,” said developer Jack Benoff of Solara Ventures Inc.

Benoff has been one of Pittsburgh’s most active condo developers in recent years. He converted 941 Penn Ave., Downtown, and the Otto Milk building in the Strip District into condo buildings that sold out quickly, with the exception of a $1.8 million penthouse at Otto Milk that’s now under agreement.

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(Greater) Center City Philadelphia’s Population Now Second Only To Midtown Manhattan’s

An expanded Center City Philadelphia has grown so much that it now ranks second only to Midtown Manhattan when it comes to people who live in the heart of the city.

That’s according to the Center City District, which released its annual report Monday – and which is defining the area as extending from Girard Avenue to Tasker Street.

Over the past 15 years, population grew 16 percent in the district that is also bounded by the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers, bringing the population to 183,240, according to latest State of Center City report.

Brisk redevelopment also continued last year in that area, the CCD reported, with 1,983 new residential units completed by developers in that area.


15 Cheap Cities Where You Don’t Need A High Salary To Buy A House

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Are you making enough money to afford a home in your area?

In some areas around the country, earning little more than $30,000 annually may be enough to afford a house, whereas in other, more expensive areas, you will need almost five times as much., a mortgage research data Web site, analyzed fourth-quarter data to determine the minimum salary needed in order to be able to afford a home in the 27 largest metro areas in the United States.

For the third quarter in a row, Pittsburgh was found to be the most affordable city in the country, with an annual median salary of just $31,716.32 needed to afford a home there. Those working in San Francisco need to make 4.5 times the amount that Steel City workers earn to afford a home.

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Boston’s Policy On Affordable Housing Inspires Pittsburgh Task Force

The ultra-chic Residences at Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay — a development with its own concierge and marble foyers, as well as rents that range from $4,700 to $17,000 a month — has been the province of the rich and powerful since opening in 2008.

But not exclusively.

Thanks to a 15-year-old city policy, teachers, police officers and other modest wage earners live next door to the wealthy at the Mandarin and other luxurious residential developments in Boston.

Because of the city’s inclusionary development policy, the Mandarin houses 10 affordable apartments — comparable in size and quality to the others — with rents ranging from $1,365 to $2,340 a month. The lucky recipients were chosen by lottery.

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Center City District: Housing Boom Continues

The housing boom rolling across central Philadelphia showed no signs of weakening last year, according to data released Tuesday, but a population exodus could be on the near horizon if little is done to fix the city’s schools and tax structure.

The news was mostly positive out of Center City District’s annual housing report, which found that 1,983 new apartments, condos, and houses between Girard and Tasker Avenues, and the Schuylkill and Delaware River hit the market in 2014, thanks to an influx of empty nesters and young professionals, said CCD chief executive Paul Levy.

That number was down 8.5 percent from the record-breaking 2,168 logged a year earlier. But Levy and his staff concluded that demand for the torrent of new construction of homes and apartments would be strong for at least several more years.

“Property is selling for more. It’s selling more quickly,” Levy said.


NY Times: Millennials Driving Apartment Boom In Wilmington

Wilmington is becoming quite the hot spot for young professionals.

In Delaware’s largest city, about 30 miles south on I-95 from Philadelphia, the downtown is expanding with several hundred apartments on the way.

These new apartments, profiled in a New York Times article this week, are aimed at millennials who are “driving increased demand for city-center living, car-free commutes and transit oriented development in cities around the country,” the article states.

To build these residential units, developers are taking vacant or underused buildings and either demolishing or renovating them.


For Colony Of Merchants, Gallery Makeover Is Painful

Every day, Miss Anna comes to the Gallery – and on Tuesday, she was particularly elegant, in a long purple sweater, fashionable hairstyle, her eyebrows etched in darkly, perfectly arched.

“Her brother died two years ago,” said George Thomas, who owns the Creative Silver jewelry kiosk on the ground floor. “She was crushed. If I don’t see Miss Anna for two days, I worry. I call her.”

Who will worry about Anna Mazella, an Aramark retiree in her 80s, when Thomas closes his business – not by choice – at the end of the month?

In November, the Gallery’s owners, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust and the Macerich Co., began to tell dozens of merchants that they would have deadlines to leave – some by the end of December, others at the end of January or February.


Judge Approves Revel Sale To Reluctant Buyer At $95.4M

A bankruptcy judge in Camden said Monday that she would approve the sale of Revel AC Inc. for $95.4 million to Florida investor Glenn Straub, rejecting Straub’s effort to pay only $87 million.

The next step is a sale order, which must be signed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Gloria M. Burns, but negotiations over the terms of that order – particularly how concerns of tenants and others will be handled – bogged down during a break.

Burns asked attorneys for Revel, Straub, and other parties to work on a sales order to be filed this week, in time to be considered at a Revel hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Once a sale order is signed, the sale of the property, built at a cost of $2.4 billion, is expected to close within 30 days, according to the asset purchase agreement.


Garfield Residents Plan Rally Over Bottom Dollar Site

Discount grocer Aldi is ignoring a community development group’s request for information on the future of one of the stores it is acquiring from a competitor, representatives of the group said.

The Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. plans to lead a rally Monday requesting that Aldi share its plan for the 6-month-old Bottom Dollar Food store at 5200 Penn Ave. in Garfield that will close by the end of the year.

“We want it to remain a grocery store so that our neighbors have access to food,” said Sarah Burke, communications and marketing manager for the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp.

In November, Belgium-based Delhaize Group announced that it planned to close its 66 Bottom Dollar Food stores, including the 20 in the Pittsburgh area, by the end of the year and sell the real estate and remaining lease liabilities for $15 million to Aldi Inc., which operates more than 1,300 stores in the United States.

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U.S. Steel To Relocate Corporate Headquarters On Former Civic Arena Site

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pitt...

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, with the new corporate logo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Steel will move to a new, five-story corporate headquarters on the former site of the Civic Arena in a deal that will provide a corporate anchor tenant for the 28-acre property where $440 million in development is planned, officials said Monday.

The company plans to lease the 268,000-square-foot building for 18 years, the company said at a news conference at Consol Energy Center.

U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi, Gov. Tom Corbett, Pitsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse attended the announcement against a backdrop of artist renderings that showed people strolling a plaza of concrete, grass and trees in front of a conceptualized version of the building.

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Residents Start To Move Into South Side Lofts Affordable Artists Complex In Bethlehem

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some residents have moved into a new affordable housing complex in South Side Bethlehem that includes the redevelopment of the former St. Stanislaus Church.

Residents have started to move into the South Side Lofts apartments at East Fifth and Atlantic streets while apartments next to the church on Hayes Street will be occupied starting next month, according to officials at Housing Development Corp. MidAtlantic, the apartments’ developer.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 46 apartments was held Tuesday. Read more about the project here.

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Report: Bright Millennials Flocking To Center City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of educated millennials living in Center City ballooned 78 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to a report released Monday.

“The Young and Restless and the Nation’s Cities,” published by, found that 25 to 34 year olds with at least a bachelor’s degree have been flocking to major metropolitan areas, fueling economic growth and stimulating urban revitalization.

Philadelphia ranked sixth among major cities which have attracted young college graduates to their booming city centers. New York City topped the list followed by San Francisco, Washington D.C., Chicago and Boston.


Changing Skyline: Subsidized Housing Deal May Benefit Developers More

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You could probably fit every unit of affordable housing being built in Philadelphia today inside one of the fancy glass skyscrapers going up in University City, and still have a couple of floors left over. That’s not because the new towers are so immense, but because the city produces so little subsidized housing for the poor and working class.

It wasn’t always that way. From the 1950s through the Clinton years, the federal government financed thousands of units of affordable housing. Though the results weren’t always well-designed, the programs did at least ensure the poor had places to live. But in the last decade, federal money dried up and cities were left to their own devices. It’s no accident that wage stagnation has become a hot issue as low-cost housing has become harder to find.

So, as with many urban improvements these days, cities have begun to look to the private sector to pick up the slack. The strategy is called “inclusionary housing,” and it involves trading zoning bonuses for apartments.

Developers get to put up taller, denser towers. Cities get a bunch of units in the new buildings that can be rented at below-market rates. Low-wage workers get fabulous apartments with skyline views.


Philadelphia Archdiocese Sells Delco Property, 2 Others For $56.2M

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Thursday announced the sale of three suburban properties for $56.2 million and said it will use the proceeds to help plug gaps in its balance sheet.

In addition to the previously reported sale of a 200-plus-acre property in Delaware County to Jenkintown-based Goodman Properties for $47 million, the Archdiocese said that it had an agreement to sell a 454-acre property in Northampton County for $5.5 million, and that it had sold 55 acres in Chester County for $3.7 million.

The $3.7 million from the sale of excess land at the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, a behavioral-health center for clergy and woman religious, was deposited into the archdiocesan priests’ pension fund, which previously had a $76.3 million deficit. The buyer was Woodbine Partners L.P.


Icehouse Condos’ Next Phase Begins In Fishtown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nearly a decade after he started the project, James Maransky has finally finished the second phase of the Icehouse, his 36-unit condominium development at Thompson Street and Columbia Avenue in Fishtown.

EnVision Group, his company, now will break ground on a third phase. One block over from the Icehouse on Columbia, it is developing Moyer Street Court townhouses.

Maransky, founder of EnVision and a green-roof professional who specializes in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified construction, said many of his colleagues in the industry did not make it through the financial crisis.

He knows how hard it was – and almost had to stop work himself. The Icehouse’s second phase was on ice, figuratively, during the financial meltdown as banks backed away from new projects. But, Maransky said recently as he looked out on the project’s common green-roof area, “I was so confident that once the first phase was finished, the second phase would sell out – and it did.”


Town By Town: In Pottstown, Plenty Of Sellers, Few Buyers

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Editor’s note:  It’s pretty freakin’ sad when the Philadelphia Inquirer has to write up something like this about Pottstown.  Everybody knows why this situation exists, except for the do nothing Borough Council who are off in Lala Land taking a group cruise down the river Denial! What an embarrassing write up and very damning because of the enormous readership of this MAJOR MARKET publication!!!!!  Now that a big city newspaper has pointed out the same issues we bloggers have been harping on for years, maybe you all will be shamed into doing something. 

Trends in local housing supply and demand aren’t working in Pottstown’s favor right now. In a word, the market is troubled.

Andrew Himes, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Collegeville, said the borough “is one of the few places that hasn’t made any kind of a comeback.”

Though just about every market in the eight-county Philadelphia region has a shortage of supply, Pottstown’s problem is it has 300 houses for sale and very little demand, Himes says.


Business, Workers Flee Electric City Taxes

picture-0571A decade ago when real estate up-and-comer Charles Hibble looked for a headquarters for his business, Scranton was a natural choice.

He invested $1.2 million converting an aging building on Penn Avenue into modern offices and apartments. Mr. Hibble accepted real estate tax and parking cost increases and the mercantile tax as costs of doing business. When city leaders began talking about a commuter tax in 2012, the owner of Weichert Realty Hibble & Associates reached his breaking point and moved out.

“I was getting pressure from my employees, who could work from anywhere — their homes or cars,” he said. “They didn’t want to pay another tax.”

Mr. Hibble’s move prefaced an employer exodus from the city. After being kicked around and eventually shot down in court, the commuter tax came back in the proposal of consultant Henry Amoroso, who cited a state law that allows municipalities to impose a commuter tax to bolster distressed pension funds. Scranton City Council swiftly approved the local income tax on commuters, which would cost employees earning $50,000 as much as $375 a year. Combined with a proposed increase in the emergency service tax – yet another withdrawal from the wages of commuters — the cost of having a job in the city has mounted.

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Boscov: Mall Price At Sheriff’s Sale Probably Too High

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Department store owner Al Boscov is unlikely to bid when the Mall at Steamtown goes on the block at a sheriff’s sale next week, saying he anticipates the asking price will be too high.

The businessman has been unable to strike a deal with LNR Partners, the real estate company representing the mortgage holder, to acquire the mall but hopes to renew negotiations if the lender finds no takers for the property at the sale Tuesday, he and his lawyer said.

“At that point, it would be just as if we were buying a property in a private sales transaction,” said attorney Scott M. Esterbrook. “The (sheriff’s) sale is not the be-all, end-all. It’s one step in the process, and where we’re at today is we just haven’t reached an agreement yet.”

The mall entered foreclosure March 7 after owner Steamtown Mall Partners defaulted on a principal balance payment of $37.1 million due last July on its 2003 mortgage, setting up the sheriff’s sale. Mr. Boscov is a principal in Steamtown Mall Partners.

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Montco’s Lynnewood Hall Up For Sale

Lynnewood Hall (Peter A. B. Widener mansion), ...

Lynnewood Hall (Peter A. B. Widener mansion), Elkins Park, PA (1897–1900). Photo: May 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time and taxes have finally forced the owner of Lynnewood Hall, a grand Horace Trumbauer estate in Elkins Park, to put the property up for sale.

The listing appeared Monday on the real estate website for $20 million.

The sales pitch is short and sweet: “A true neoclassical revival masterpiece. … Main house 110 rooms. 70,000 sq. ft. of living space & 33.85 gated acres.”

The words, accompanied by an exterior photo, belie both the grandeur and the bittersweet history of one of Philadelphia’s largest intact Gilded Age mansions.


Sanatoga K-Mart Store Signs Announce Its Closing

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SANATOGA PA – The K-Mart discount department store at 2200 E. High St., which occupies the largest retail building in Sanatoga village and has operated there continuously for decades, will close its doors Aug. 31 (2014), a store management employee confirmed Saturday (June 21).

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