Publication: NY Daily News
Date: November 16, 2007
Article: "Ever thought of living in Philadelphia?"
Author: Jason Sheftel
Before you start thinking I'm crazy, and you're saying, "Who the heck would commute from Philly?" consider that low housing prices make the City of Brotherly Love one of the leading homeownership markets in the country.
Just 68 minutes by train, Philadelphia is less of a commute for some New Yorkers than those living in Long Island, Connecticut or parts of New Jersey.
For freelancers, telecommuters, and corporate types who don't have to be in New York every day, Philadelphia is a design-conscious homeowner's dream. Maybe that's why empty nesters and recent retirees are flocking to the city.
You can get a townhouse for $325,000. You can live in a brand-new two-bedroom condominium a block from City Hall for $450,000. And you can live in a Ritz-Carlton residence with marble baths, a state-ofthe-art kitchen, and full use of the hotel's amenities for just $555,000.
Rents are an even better deal. A 1,200-square-foot loft will run you $1,000. A three-bedroom brick home in a neighborhood of artists costs $1,300 per month.
"A resurgence in real estate and investment has turned Philadelphia into one of the most livable and affordable cities in the country," says Mayor-elect Michael Nutter, who'll take office in February. "There is incredible vibrancy on a cultural level and an economic level."
Not hindered by any mortgage crisis or housing slowdown, Philadelphia has grown leaps and bounds to become the third-largest downtown population in the country, behind New York and Chicago. After years of depression that decreased its downtown population, Center City Philadelphia grew its population by 28% to 90,000.
"More than 40% of our downtown population walks to work," says Paul Levy, president and founder of the Center City business improvement district, one of the groups responsible for the Philadelphia turnaround. "That's more than any other city in the United States."
Just a three-block walk to 30th Street Station, the Murano will add some flavor to the Philadelphia skyline. The 43-story, curved-glass building has 302 residences with amenities that include parking, a full-service gym, a lap pool and a sun deck. Additionally, all of the residences have some outdoor space. Some apartments have 16-foot ceilings.
The New York-based real estate firm Citi Habitats is marketing the project. They sold out the St. James, a high-end rental in Philadelphia's Society Hill that attracted professional athletes and local celebrities.
"Philadelphia has become a very competitive housing market," says Matthew Van Damm, the Citi Habitats executive running the project. "They thought our long experience selling in those kinds of markets would help."
One-bedrooms in the building start at $450,000. Two-bedrooms go in the high $600,000s.
"That's half what you'll pay in New York," says Van Damm.