Publication: New York Post
Date: March 29, 2007
Article: "Give Me Liberty"
Author: Jennifer Ceaser

 

Philadelphia is a mere 70-minute high-speed Acela train ride from New York City, but it's a world away in terms of real-estate prices. While we wish you luck finding decent apartments in much of Manhattan for $1,000 a square foot, new-construction luxury condos in Philly's Center City can be had for half that much.

And it's not like you're living in Muskogee: Philadelphia has the country's third-largest downtown residential market. So like New York, it's very walkable, it's got great shopping and restaurants, and it boasts world-class museums and performing arts centers.

Unlike New York, Philly's just now catching up with the condo boom - in fact, it's been 30 years since central Philadelphia has seen substantial new housing stock. But as luxe buildings like 10 Rittenhouse Square and Murano rise, this city might just become a serious contender.

10 Rittenhouse Square

Yes, you can live in a Robert A.M. Stern building on the park for less than $1,000 a square foot. And while it's not that building or that park, it is a pretty nice alternative.

Stern's 10 Rittenhouse Square will offer 161 residences, ground-level retail (including Barnes %26 Noble, a perk you won't find at 15 Central Park West) and one of the city's top locations - on Walnut Street, right on the historic tree-lined Rittenhouse Square park. In a nod to preservation, the building will incorporate three landmark structures while adding a new 33-story red-brick and limestone tower behind them.

The level of luxury is what you'd expect from a Stern building: Miele and Sub-Zero kitchen appliances and marble baths with BainUltra tubs. Most units feature outdoor space. Building amenities include a garage with valet parking, concierge service, a restaurant, a pool, spa and fitness center and a shared roof garden.

Prices start at $850,000 for a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom and go up to $12 million for each of the six 10,000-square-foot penthouses. Fifty percent of the units have sold.

"It's one of the most expensive sales per square foot in Philadelphia," says Roger Friedman, principal of ARCWheeler, the building's developer. "But it still costs half as much to live here than in New York."

Friedman notes that 10 to 15 percent of the buyers are from New York and New Jersey; guess they've figured out that Philly is quite the bargain.

The project is scheduled for completion by late 2008/early 2009. (215) 825-7710; 10rittenhouse.com

BELGRAVIA

Around the corner from Rittenhouse Square, you'll find Belgravia, a conversion of an eight-story landmark building, with 57 condos priced from $375,000 to over $700,000. The 17 one-bedrooms range from 615 t o 840 square feet; the 40 two-bedrooms are 1,087 to 1,370 square feet. (Common charges average a low 56 cents a square foot).

"Normal people can buy here and start building up a real-estate portfolio," notes Nancy Alperin, president of Maxwell Realty, the condo's exclusive agent. "In fact, many New Yorkers have bought here as an investment."

Belgravia retains a historic feel, especially with its high ceilings and tall windows. The spacious, light-filled units feature modern touches like Mohawk hardwood floors and carpeting, Whirlpool stainless-steel kitchen appliances and Waterworks fixtures in the marble bathrooms.

The doorman building will also offer a fitness center. Move-ins are expected by the end of 2007. (215) 546-6000; belgraviacondos.com

Murano

Rising 42 stories above Market and 21st streets, the ultra-modern Murano could be mistaken for any of the sleek condos sprouting up around Manhattan. But in Philadelphia, the Murano's curving all-glass e xterior definitely stands out. And the interiors, with walls of floor-to-ceiling windows and open loft-like floor plans, also distinguish this project from other Philly condominiums.

At Murano, you can buy a new-construction one-bedroom for as little as $399,000. The 302 units, all with balconies, include 740- to 1,100-square-foot one-bedrooms, 1,250- to 1,960-square-foot two-bedrooms, 2,625-square-foot three-bedrooms and 1,660- to 2,625-square-foot penthouses. Prices run $500 to $600 a square foot.

Kitchens feature bamboo or Brazilian cherrywood floors, and most master baths have a Kohler Tea-for-Two soaking tub. Building amenities include a fitness center with a pool, a parking garage and a 24-hour concierge. A Trader Joe's is next door.

And Murano is a commuter's dream - it's less than a 10-minute walk to Amtrak's 30th Street station, where N.Y.C.'s Penn Station is just over an hour away.

The building is 60 percent sold, with completion scheduled for summer 20 08. (215) 952-2101; themuranocondominium.com

The Ellington

Some of the best real-estate bargains can be found at The Ellington, a renovated 21-story building named "Condominium of the Year under $500,000" by the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia. Here, a good-sized one-bedroom can be had for as little as $265,000.

Don't let the low price fool you - the 160 units feature plenty of high-end touches like granite countertops, Kohler fixtures and Poggenpohl cabinetry in the kitchen and Italian Carrera marble baths. And while building amenities are somewhat limited - a small fitness center and a clubroom - the location more than makes up for it: in the heart of Center City on Chestnut Street at 15th Street, near Rittenhouse Square and lots of shopping and restaurants.

One-bedrooms (671 to 845 square feet) go up to $370,000; those with a den are $425,000 (for 1,000 square feet); two-bedrooms (918 to 1,254 square feet) range from $395,000 to the mid-$5 00,000s and penthouses go from $599,000 for a one-bedroom, two-bath duplex to $1.2 to $1.4 million for a large three-bedroom, three-bath duplex. (215) 569-8174; ellingtoncentercity.com

The Residences at Two Liberty Place

There isn't a bad view from any of the condos in the second tallest building in the city - residences start on the 40th floor (where most area buildings top out) and extend to the 57th floor.

In addition to the sweeping, unobstructed views, "an obvious advantage is that the core structure is already there," says Justin Petersmeyer, director of sales at The Residences at Two Liberty Place. "Our units will be occupied long before many of these new condos are even built."

Of the 122 units planned, approximately 40 will be ready by the fall. The large one-bedrooms start at 1,150 square feet, two-bedrooms (some with a den) range from 1,550 to 1,900 square feet and three bedrooms measure 2,300 to 2,600 square feet. Units are priced from $800,000 to about $2.2 million. The full-floor penthouse with 360-degree views will go for more than $15 million.

Units offer custom walk-in closets, kitchens with Miele and Sub-Zero appliances and marble baths with massage tubs and Kohler fixtures.

Building amenities include a fitness center with saunas, massage rooms, a yoga and Pilates studio and an adjustable indoor "Endless Pool." There's also a private dining room and a pet spa. Downstairs, there's shopping galore (including J. Crew, Aveda and Godiva) at The Shops at Liberty Place. (877) 414-1600; twoliberty.com

PRESS                    DEVELOPMENT TEAM                   CONSTRUCTION