CenterCityTeam Category

Celebrity Real Estate Shorts 1/21/15

January 21st, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

Jared Leto has bought a former Air Force nuclear lookout base. Dating back to 1947, the Lookout Mountain station in L.A.was used as the base camp for some 250 filmmakers (with top-secret government clearance) who traveled the world documenting the effects of nuclear blasts. Those films were finally declassified in 1997, and the station lives on. It was used between 2012 and 2013 as an “expensive rehab center” owned by a firm called One80, but closed quickly due to accusations of shady business dealings. The compound contains eight bedrooms and twelve bathrooms, in addition to galleries, a theater, a soundstage, a pool, and a waterfall. Leto bought the Lookout for $5 million, although it definitely needs some revamping. Leto has the money to do so, so all is well.


I can only assume that’s the shoe house on the left.

Remember the news that Iggy Azalea was buying a new home? Azalea is shacking up with her NBA player boyfriend Nick Young, alias “Swaggy P.” The pair bought a six-bedroom faux Mediterranean manse in Tarzana, in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. The home is beautiful in its own way, with a barbeque pit, a spa, and a basketball court. According to reports, however, none of these were the features that attracted Young to the home. Apparently Swaggy P. is all about the shoes, and the property contains a detached building that is being converted into a “shoe house” for the storage of Young’s 500+ pairs of kicks. Swaggy apparently employs two “shoe keepers” to help curate the collection. Can you say #stuffrichpeopledo?

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics living legend and kickass nonagenrian, just bought a new home in L.A. above the Sunset Strip. Lee’s new home cost $4.4 million and is a comfortable 5,285 square feet. It sports an expansive entryway, roomy hallways, and a grand dining room. There are four bedrooms and seven bathrooms, leaving plenty of room for entertaining or guests. Interestingly enough, it also boasts a professional-grade movie theater, so that Lee can watch all the movies currently being made of his creations.

Philadelphia Off Market Deals – Meredith District and Fitler Square!

January 20th, 2015 Frank L. DeFazio Comments Off

Philadelphia Off Market Deals








XXX South 9th Street

2400 sq ft
3 beds/2.5 baths
2 car parking in rear (more likely 1 plus patio space – can fit two small cars)
All updated baths, new HVAC system, some new windows – all rest of property is average + condition

XXX South American Street
1500 sq.ft
16 feet wide
Updated, modern home, finished basement w/ full bath, average+ condition, great curb appeal,
Small, quiet, tree lined street

Near 24th and Spruce
1.2-1.3 mil
single fam w/ parking in rear.
1.2-1.3 mil asking,
3500 sqft,
needs 150-250k to make it pristine.
Available first quarter 2015.

Near Locust and Bonsall
3bed/2.5bath w/ den and parking,
3 story home,
garage first floor,
rear garden,
2nd floor entertaining,
3rd floor 3beds/2baths,

Philly’s Accolades Keep Pouring In!

January 20th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

It’s a good week for proud Philadelphians! The City of Brotherly Love has been having a fantastic run of it lately, first with the news that it is one of the country’s fastest-developing travel destinations, and then being tapped by Conde Nast Traveler as the second best city for shopping in the entire world. Now, Travel + Leisure has put yet another feather in Philly’s cap – they’ve dubbed the city as the world’s ninth best for new restaurants. Philadelphia was lauded for its “fierce indie spirit and world-class kitchen talent” when it comes to food. Certain dining hotspots were called out especially. In no especial order, they were —


Serpico marries delicious global fare with a comfy neighborhood-bar setting.

Serpico – Peter Serpico’s namesake eatery is something wholly different from the chef’s experience at New York’s famous Momofuku Ko, offering “playful yet familiar takes on global fare” in an intimate, neighborly setting. Serpico himself, a James Beard Award winner, serves up a dinner menu that runs the gamut from sliced pig’s head to long ramen, deep-fried duck leg to corn ravioli.

High Street on Market – Named the second-best new restaurant in America last year, Eli Kulp’s High Street on Market serves up both a cozy atmosphere and plenty of non-traditional takes on traditional favorites like egg sandwiches, pastrami on rye, and even a bologna sandwich.

Federal Donuts – Coffee, donuts, and chicken. It’s more than a tagline; it’s the entire menu! Federal Donuts serves up some next-level comfort food, offering fancy and fresh, hot donuts as well as Korean-style twice-fried chicken. It’s only available until everything sells out for the day, so it’s best to get in early!

Dizengoff – Israeli splendor shines through every bite here. This self-dubbed “Israeli Hummusiya in the City of Brotherly Love” is known especially for (as makes sense) its hummus. Travel + Leisure especially loves the zucchini version.



More Details About Pope’s Visit Emerge

January 19th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

As September draws closer, more details of Pope Francis’ itinerary are beginning to emerge. The pope will be in Philadelphia as part of a United States visit for the World Meeting of Families. Reports say that the pontiff might visit either a children’s hospital or a juvenile detention facility. These are only the newest details to leak regarding Francis’ landmark visit, the first he’ll be making to the United States since he ascended to the papacy in March 2013.

pope francis

The pope’s visit will be a landmark event for Philadelphia.

So far, we know a few things about the visit. Pope Francis will make two appearances on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. One will happen on Saturday, September 26th when he attends the “Festival of Families.” He will also lead Mass at the base of the Philadelphia Museum of Art the next day, his only large public Mass in America outside of the World Meeting of Families. As Philadelphia is the site of the Meeting, the pope wants to keep the focus on that city, say representatives.

According to Archbishop Bernardito Auza, a representative of the Vatican and “permanent observer of the Holy See to the United States,” has been communicating details of the papal visit.

Francis will visit Washington, D.C. and New York City before coming to Philadelphia. While in the former he plans to visit the White House, the Capitol building, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception. In NYC he will visit the United Nations, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Ground Zero memorial.

News stories have been emerging that the pope’s visit is already playing havoc with the travel plans of visitors who expected to come into town in late September, and stymieing couples whose planned wedding dates will fall during the event. This is because just about every hotel in town is either booked up or has been blocked out for visiting officials and dignitaries. It’s believed that two million people alone will attend the papal Mass.


Philly Wins Honor As World’s Number 2 Shopping Destination

January 16th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

What do you think of when you think of Philadelphia’s ranking on lists of worldwide cities? Whatever you are thinking, I’ll bet it doesn’t compare to the position Philly scored on Conde Nast Traveler’s freshly-released list of the world’s best shopping cities. Philadelphia ranked number two, right behind Barcelona, Spain. Rounding out the list were international hotspots like Hong Kong and Dublin. Chicago also made the top five, scoring the #4 berth. The nod means big things for Philly, which is clearly being taken seriously as a travel destination in more ways than one – a reputation for amazing shopping will surely stick it on the map for many.

reading market

The Reading Terminal Market represents some of Philly’s finest shopping, all in one place. Photo credit: Conde Nast Traveler.

The list took into account not just the clothing scene, but shopping for food, home goods, and other specialties as well. Conde Nast specifically called out the Reading Terminal Market, where “[y]ou could max out your credit card just sampling the foodstuff from the hundred-plus merchants, but don’t forget about the stalls selling books, home decor, and textiles.” They also mentioned North Third Street’s collection of nifty shops and fashionable stops.

From a rich representation of typical American mall fare to any number of eclectic, independently-owned boutiques, Philadelphia really brings the goods when it comes to offering just about anything that a shopper’s heart might desire. Of course, we know that the City of Brotherly Love is the complete package, offering a wealth of cultural and entertainment attractions in addition to great shopping. In short, it’s really just a fantastic place to visit (or live!).

Bob Hope’s Home Hits the Market For the First Time

January 15th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

Beloved, belated celebrity Bob Hope’s home recently hit the market for the first time ever. The Hope family, Bob and his wife Dolores, had the home built in 1939 by a celebrity architect in the Hollywood Regency style and lived in it for sixty years, until Bob’s death in 2003 and Dolores’ death in 2011. At the time of the purchase, it sat on a normal-sized parcel. After that, the pair continued to acquire more and more of the land surrounding the home, adding both an indoor and an outdoor pool, sporting greens (including a one-hole, three-par golf course), and gardens. The estate today is surrounded by a wall and a gate, and encompasses five acres.


The elegant home has timeless Hollywood appeal.

The home is nearly 15,000 square feet, with eight bedrooms and plenty of room for entertaining. There’s a huge family room and spacious patio. The kitchen is of gourmet quality and there’s a billiard room and library. Four of the bedrooms are suites with attached bathrooms. Its layout makes it perfect for entertaining, and the Hope family definitely spent plenty of time hosting star-studded gatherings with their nearest and dearest over the decades during which they lived in the home.

Hope’s former home was first put on the marker in 2013 with an asking price of $27 million. When nobody bit, the price took a drop to $21.8 million. It was taken off the market for a while, and it’s back on for $23 million. Anyone buying the home would surely be owning a piece of Hollywood history. It’s not every day that a home with such class and history comes on the market, after all.




Philly Reigns as a Vacation Destination

January 14th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

Recently the Visit Philly crew came together for a celebratory event. The group feted the fact that Philadelphia has become a bonafide vacation destination, a state of being that has been almost twenty years in the making.


You knew Philly was a great place to live, but it’s a great spot for visitors as well.

The group met last week at the Doubletree Hotel for their annual New Year’s breakfast, an event as much about celebrating the successes of the new year as it is a chance for  members to wish each other a happy new year. Meryl Levitz, president of Visit Philadelphia, told attending hospitality and tourism industry reps that visitation to the Philly metro area is soaring, a state of affairs that marks the culmination of a campaign that’s been constantly in motion since 1997.

The Greater Philadelphia area (which encompasses five counties) outpaced national visitation averages by three and a half times over, proving that the metro is definitely a draw. Levitz proudly announced the fact that there has been an eighty-four percent increase in overnight leisure visitation to the area since Visit Philly began marketing itself in 1997 as a great place to visit. Weekend hotel occupancy is at a high level, indicating the area’s strength as a getaway destination.

In  2014, hotel occupancy in Center City sat at a rosy seventy-six percent… definitely nothing to sneeze at. The travelers visiting the area represented all demographics and areas of the visitor spectrum, leisure and business travelers alike. A lot of thanks for the growth goes to the successful “With Love” campaign, which has been known to affect the way that visitors feel connected, emotionally, to the area. Three cheers for great visitors, and a great place to visit!


Coming Soon to Center City: Tiny Target Stores?

January 12th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

I may as well admit it right up front: I freakin’ love Target. I love shopping there and I love wandering the aisles. I love the big red shopping carts, the Dollar Spot, the food court pretzels, and the generic brands. My first job was even at Target – back in high school I worked a stint as the fitting room attendant, hanging up clothes and answering the store’s main phone.

I’m not the only one who is crazy about the Bulls-eye either. Target is a mecca for much of America, a big box of great deals, cheerful signage, and helpful employees. But for folks who live in urban settings, the closest Target is often a long distance away – a real challenge for those accustomed to public transportation and life without a car. Target is, by nature, set up for a suburban environment with its sprawling stores and big parking lots. Center City is one of those Target-less outposts. Plans to open a full-sized Target within the downtown corridor have always fizzled. There could soon be an alternative, however.


Target Express stores are compact and designed to fit within an urban environment.

Word in the news is that Target Express could soon be coming to Center City and University City with as many as four compact, convenient stores aimed at urban dwellers. One-sixth the size of a typical, 120,000 – 140,000 square foot Target store, these Express stores would carry a “curated assortment” (as per Target marketing materials) of smaller items that are normally sold in the big stores. The stores would also offer fresh food and a “grab and go” selection of meals.

Target has tested the Express format in Minnesota, and plans on opening at least five other stores in 2015, including three in San Francisco alone.

If suitable space can be found, Target Express is looking like an idea that could realistically come to fruition. Center City landlords are keen to get their hands on such a lucrative addition to the cityscape, and Target really wants in. Residents will only benefit from more competition for the chain drugstores that currently make up much of the downtown retail landscape.

Celeb Real Estate Shorts, 1/9/15

January 9th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

New parents Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis have listed their New York City apartment, according to news reports. The unit is located at the tony, exclusive Porter House on Ninth Avenue. The two-bedroom unit is on the market for $3,995,000. It clocks in at a smidge under 1,700 square feet and features ultra-modern touches like dark hardwoods, Viking kitchen appliances, and large, airy windows. The 13-foot ceilings aren’t bad, either. Presumably the family needs more space now that there’s a baby on board!


Hank Azaria’s home is a California dream.

The Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria put his home in Beverly Hills, California on the market for $3.5 million. This would be Azaria’s second home sale in as many years, as he sold his NYC loft to Meg Ryan last summer. Azaria bought the home back in 2000 for $2 million. It features 3,320 square feet of living space, four bedrooms, five baths, and three stone fireplaces. There’s also a pool and a hot tub.

Despite rumors that the couple had the deal on lock, it seems that Jay Z and Beyonce have been outbid on the Beverly Hills mansion with which they were reportedly smitten. The mammoth 22,300 square foot palace has eight bedrooms and fifteen bathrooms. It overlooks Malibu and downtown LA. The home sold for $70 million to Swedish billionaire Marcus Persson, a co-founder of the “Minecraft” gaming franchise. In addition to just being enormous, the home features $5,600 commodes in the bathrooms, a fifty-four foot curved glass wall that opens out to the pool, and a location in the ultra-luxe Trousdale Estates community.


Rounding Up 2014’s Luxest Celeb Manses

January 8th, 2015 Shannon O'Donnell Comments Off

Most every celebrity home that I cover over here on the blog is pretty swoon-worthy. Celebrities may be just like us in a number of ways, but the style in which they live is seldom one of them. From “modest” condos decked out with gourmet kitchens and private balconies to horse stables, double-digit numbers of bedrooms, and attached bowling alleys, celebrity homes just about always bring the fancy. I recently read a great article rounding up some of 2014’s most luxe, extravagant celebrity listings, and it just reminded me of the fact that some of our favorite stars really do live “lifestyles of the rich and famous!”


Dion’s Jupiter homestead has its own water park.

Take, for instance, the home that Celine Dion listed thus past year for the whopping price of $62.5 million. (Take a minute to reread that price!) Located in the town of Jupiter, Florida, Dion’s pad clocks in at a dizzying 10,000 square feet with eight bedrooms. But its size isn’t even its most impressive feature. The home sports an attached water park, with a man-made river and multiple pools with water slides. The topper is a span of 415 feet worth of private beach.

Then there’s funnyman Steve Martin’s opulent St. Barth’s getaway. The home, dubbed Villa Au Soleil (Villa of the Sun) was first listed at $11.59 million, and has since dropped back to $8.91 million. Not a steal by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, but what bang for your buck! The home’s four bedrooms each feature an en suite bath, and the master bedroom boasts an outdoor shower and hot tub on its terrace. Beamed ceilings and unobstructed ocean views also distinguish the property. Need any more in the way of selling points? There’s a two-tiered infinity pool.

Also on the list? The California estate that Heidi Klum unloaded in 2014 for $24 million. With eight bedrooms and ten bathrooms, the home is everything you think a celebrity mansion should be. There’s an infinity pool (notice a trend?), a rose garden, and a koi pond as well.