Sometimes ugly doesn’t need an additional classification. I’ve been doing a lot of theme weeks on Mondays to fill out What The Philly, but today I think we’re going to go back to the basics.
First up on the block – a sweet little Spring Garden 2/1. As it just so happens, this is the “1″ in the equation. I’ll give you a moment to take it all in.
This bathroom should have been demo’d about twenty years ago. C’mon, someone buy this place and put Satan’s Little Water Closet out of its misery, please.
Next contender – a home with enough damage to put the “crack” back in “crack dealer,” as in the apparent former resident(s) of this charming abode.
But wait, there’s more!
Dirty, busted-up, and covered with trash and debris of questionable provenance? No awesome NoLibs address in Philly is going to counteract all those amenities.
Our next home will, on first glance, wondering what is actually wrong. The place looks okay, right?
Here’s the thing. This studio is all of 319 “cozy” square feet, and that full-on picture of it is buried in TWENTY.FOUR.PICTURES of the building in which it’s located. Hey, look, I’m all about the Avenue of the Arts too, bro. But this picture in a real estate listing…?
It’s pushing things. Just sayin’.
I don’t even know what to say about this right here? This home also has location going for it – it’s a hop, skip, and jump from Rittenhouse Square – but God almighty, someone made an architectural boo-boo with the shape of the structure. You see, there’s this ridiculous corner built into the side of the house, taking up stupid space, ensuring nothing fits in it, and looking asinine.
Oh, look, they built the kitchen into the corner. WHY?
And now, friends, we have my personal winner for Center City Uggo of the Week. This little Bella Vista beaut may have, in fact, been “well maintained” as the ad states, but man, it certainly was not updated.
Had I seen this listing last week, it would have rounded out my collection of dark and dreary hovels. So dim, much wood, very need for antidepressants. Wow.
And then, as the pièce de résistance, we have the basement. Why you would show this picture in an endeavor to sell a house is beyond me, quite frankly, but someone thought it was a good idea. Some people also think torture porn is haute cinema, but some people aren’t me.
Having an adorable Center City nest is always an expensive proposition, right? Wrong! There’s no doubt that real estate price tags are hefty in Philadelphia, generally, but there are always options. You probably won’t find a walk-up in Rittenhouse Square, but there are plenty of choice homes ’round these parts that aren’t completely exorbitant, as far as local prices go. Especially if you can sacrifice a bit on space – and I’m not even talking to the extent that those weirdos who want to live in Manhattan do, hanging out in 8′x5′ closets – you might be surprised by what one can find for under $300k in Center City. Selling your organs or a first-born child isn’t required. Take a look at these listings and prepare to be pleasantly impressed!
All these homes are having open houses this weekend, so if you see something you like, go give it a visit!
1.) 2601 Pennsylvania Avenue #146 (Art Museum)
1/1, 744 square feet
Open House: Sunday, July 20th – 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Love It: All the natural light – from windows with treetop views! – walk-in bedroom closet, inclusive condo fees
2.) 927 Spruce Street #1f (Washington Square)
1/1, 418 square feet
Open House: Sunday, July 20th – 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Love It: Stone walls, cherry hardwood, stainless appliances, a jawdropper of a renovated bathroom
3.) 525 Fitzwater Street #7 (Bella Vista)
2/2, 500 square feet
Open House: Sunday, July 20th – 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Love It: Freshly-renovated Trinity with lots of windows, roomy utilization of space, shiny new kitchen
4.) 1600-18 Arch Street #710 (Rittenhouse Square)
Studio, 546 square feet
Open House: Sunday, July 20th – 1:30pm to 2:30pm
Love It: LOCATION! Near-perfect Walk Score, on-site storage space, hardwood, stainless, and granite, gorgeous
5.) 238 Queen Street #4 (Queen Village)
2/2, 975 square feet
Open House: Sunday, July 20th – 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Love It: Deeded parking, Meredith catchment, super light, bright, airy, and roomy. Ultra-pretty.
I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Trinity houses. I mean, you’ve heard the criticisms. They are small. They are cramped. They are utterly impractical for anyone besides singles or fastidious couples, and ones with good knees for steep stairs, at that. All these things are mostly true. If you have oversized furniture, or a sizeable collection of anything, or if you haven’t made peace with the minimalism trend, you’re gonna have a rough time. The tiniest Trinities are just 100 square feet per floor – I gave one such listing the What the Philly treatment a couple months ago – and I’d argue that these homes are pretty much useless for modern living. There are plenty of Trinities that are bigger, however, and these are the ones on which I’m going to focus.
Here’s the flip side to Trinities. They are quintessentially Philadelphian, and owning one is like owning a piece of history. The fact that they are small means that they are affordable, which can’t be said for a lot of local real estate – especially in Center City. Their quirkiness lends them an undeniable charm. And, like the dollhouses they resemble, they are almost endlessly customizable. Given enough energy and time, plus a bit of investment cash, you can model your Trinity into just about anything you need/want it to be.
This Thursday Four, therefore, is going to be dedicated to the “love” side of my relationship with Trinities. I found a quartet of the cutest, most original, winningest bandboxes in Center City, and now I’m showing them to you. Check ‘em out, and tell me afterwards if you still feel the same about this type of property.
1.) 412 Bainbridge St. APT D (Queen Village)
2 beds, 1 bath
What I Love: The square footage (!), the rooftop deck, the fireplace and built-ins
The Scoop: Two bedrooms, over 1,000 square feet, and THAT VIEW? Sign me up.
2.) 1902 Waverly St. (Rittenhouse Square)
2 beds, 3 baths
What I Love: The vintage-y bathroom on the second floor, swoonworthy red brock exterior, big kitchen
The Scoop: Calling this a two bedroom is a serious stretch, I think – you’d have just about no living space – but having a bathroom on each floor is wicked sweet.
3.) 506 Clymer St. #A (Queen Village)
1 bed, 1 bath
What I Love: The skylight in the bedroom, and the courtyard arrangement of the four units on the property.
The Scoop: Okay, so I lied about not giving love to the tiniest Trinities. This one is an exception, having the cleverest utilization of space <500 feet that I’ve ever seen.
4.) 777 S 3rd St. #5 (Queen Village)
2 beds, 1 bath
What I Love: Cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom, stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, the Juliet balcony
The Scoop: Again… you can’t really fit two bedrooms in that square footage; the second floor is, by necessity, living space. But once you make peace with that, this one has some serious flow. Plus, the updates are absolutely fantastic.
We’re heading to Rittenhouse Square today for this week’s Pictures of Pretty Condos! If you haven’t visited the Academy House before, you are in for a real treat. This 37-story building on the southeast cornet of Locust and 15th is among the square’s most visually impressive, having been designed in the 1970s by renowned architect Otto Reichert-Facilides.
This is a doorman building, with balconies and washers/dryers in most units, an indoor pool, a gym, optional valet parking in the rental lot downstairs… just about every amenity you might need or want, basically. Virtually all utilities are included in your condo fees, which is an outstanding convenience.
Rittenhouse Square touts one of the highest Walk Scores in Center City, meaning that all the shopping, dining, and entertainment you could want are within hoofing distance. The Academy House is directly adjacent to the Avenue of the Arts, meaning that world-class culture is a brief walk away at all times. In fact, the Academy of Music next door gave the condos their name.
Junior 1-, 1-, 2-, and 3 bedroom units are available at Academy House, although at least one unit currently up for sale has had walls knocked down between two existing units to create a bigger space. There are 576 units in total, with square footage ranging from 521 to 1590.
In many Center City condo communities, floor height tends to be a strong component of the relative desirability and pricing of individual units. Homes at the Academy House are less subject to these fluctuations, since great views are beheld from just about every floor.
Another aspect of design at Academy House that tends to be a strong selling point? All units are flats – no stairs with which to contend! With the larger (2- and 3 bedroom) units, that’s really saying something in relation to other homes in Center City. There are elevators throughout the building.
I’ve seen Academy House condos called the “Toyotas” of Center City – they consistently hold their value and shine in comparison to other, flashier comers. This is, I feel, an apt description. Buying here isn’t only a solid decision in terms of location and amenities, but probably a fairly safe financial investment as well. After all, many things change, but Rittenhouse being classy and desirable does not.
A gorgeous home in Rittenhouse Square… what else is new, right? Center City’s most eligible address is simply awash in lovely residences. This townhome is no exception.
1900 Rittenhouse Square is a small, exclusive doorman building replete with elegance and style. Touting three bedrooms and five bathrooms spread out over a luxuriantly spacious 3,616 square feet, there’s no question of having enough room. In fact, the whole of the sixth floor is devoted to separate living space, which includes its own entrance… perfect for visiting guests or family members!
Every square inch screams “character,” from the custom wallpaper to the coffered ceilings. Exquisite Baroque trim puts one in mind of a Philadelphian Versailles, all lush opulence. Imported European fixtures complete the illusion.
No expense was spared in making this home a dream nest. Herringbone hardwood floors, high ceilings, and heaps of tall, airy double-hung windows surround one in good taste and an air of good living. The moldings and doorways are nothing short of fantastic, either.
Enter the kitchen and find glimmering, gourmet chef-grade stainless steel appliances, custom wooden cabinets, and light, bright tile all along the walls.
A crowning gem of this home’s construction is the oversized, opulent staircase running from the ground floor to the second one. Its scope and beauty will take your breath away.
As if all this weren’t enough, every morning you can wake up and savor the treetop views of the park below. In all ways (Walk Score, exclusivity, proximity to world-class amenities), there is nothing quite like life in Rittenhouse Square. For $2,950,000, this home lets you experience the best of the best, every single day.
There’s a reason that “light and bright” is one of the most frequently-flogged phrases in Center City real estate. Living in a major city, outdoor space is at a premium. Oftentimes, the light streaming through our windows is our only claim to a share of the world outside. Accordingly, that’s also why dark, broody living spaces are so undesirable.
Today’s batch of W.T.Philly homes is a dreary, ugly little quartet. Long on shadow and low on aesthetic, they’ll leave you wondering – and then realizing – why some folks don’t open the shades once in a while. |
*As is ever the case when I’m being uncharitable to other folks’ homes, exact addresses and identifying information have been withheld.
1.) Spring Garden Surprise – 4/1, $279,000
This one is actually not the worst of the bunch, it just needs some serious love. Take the kitchen below. The cabinets are okay-ish, but then you have that awful, dark tile, black appliances, and fluorescent strip overhead. So dark, so unappealing.
2.) The Ludlow Loser – 5/2, $175,000
“Yes, it is in need of some renovations,” says the listing. Gee, thanks for pointing that out – we (which is to say, people with eyes) wouldn’t have guessed otherwise!
3.) Taking the “Bella” Right Outta Bella Vista – 3/1, $209,000
Yowza, this one is just a hot mess. The nabe is great, which goes a long way, but the buyer of this one will have a lot of work to do if they don’t want to spend their days in a dark, dated den.
4.) Something’s Fishy In Fishtown – 3/1, $125,000
Bringing up the rear: a “home” (in the loosest sense) where someone’s heart clearly isn’t. Holes in the wall, partially demo’d kitchen, trash and filth everywhere… add to it that the whole home is really dim, and you have the most glaring example of “next, please!” yet.
1.) 1215-21 Wood St #6
1/1, 1,675 square feet
Open: Sunday July 13rd, 11:00am to 1:00pm
Exposed brick, floating stairs in a loft with 14′ ceilings? Yes, please! With a roof deck and parking, you’ll feel like you have the coolest nest in the Loft District. The fact that this nest is close to the planned viaduct park is a bonus, and a bit of assurance that your home will do nothing but appreciate in the future.
2.) 317 Vine St #504
2/2, 1,220 square feet
Open: Sunday July 13rd, 1:00pm to 3:00pm
This unit at York Square is all about the quiet, dignified elegance. Nestled in one of Old City’s most desirable buildings (concierge, elevator, fitness room, security, underground parking), this spacious, airy loft will win your heart. High ceilings, a cool Asian aesthetic influence, and just about every upgrade imaginable.
3.) 10 Saint James Ct
2/2, 1,566 square feet
Open: Sunday July 13rd, 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Hello, Society Hill! Big, bright, and beautiful, this is a unit that whispers “home” as soon as you walk through the door. I love that the living room ceilings soar high, complemented by an 18-foot window to let the sunlight in! On the upper level, find a mezzanine office/family room and one of the prettiest master bedrooms in Center City.
4.) 126-128 Arch St #5
3/2, 1,530 square feet
Open: Sunday July 13rd, 11:00am to 12:00pm
All understated, classic beauty, this Old City penthouse is replete with vintage touches. Oversized for a 3/2, you’ll have plenty of room to get comfy here! Don’t miss the custom closets and built-ins throughout, and check out the master suite for the real “wow” factor: a whirlpool tub and a pretty, functional fireplace.
5.) 244-48 N 3rd St #5a
1/1, 630 square feet
Open: Sunday July 13rd, 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Tucked on the top floor of a former industrial building in Old City, this little home delivers everything you need with style and space-saving panache. High ceilings, deeded parking, a working fireplace, and an oversized kitchen guaranteed to give your foodie friends a case of green-eyed jealousy all contribute to heaps of charm and character.
I usually cover homes for sale here, but most Philly-area Realtors – including Frank! – broker rentals as well. Today’s Thursday Four is brought to you by the fact that I saw the most adorable Fishtown rental (see #4) and was having a love-attack and needed to do something about it. Without further ado, I give you a quartet of the darlingest rentals all around Center City. For extra fun, I narrowed my search to those properties that had at least four bedrooms, because MORE PICTURES!
1.) 711 S. Marvine St. (Bella Vista)
Character is the name of the game in this 4/1, 1,920 sq. ft. townhome that’s working hard to put the “bella” in Bella Vista. With exposed brick in the kitchen, ornate scrollwork over the doorways, absolutely delightful period light fixtures, and oodles of cunning built-ins, the list of this rental’s delights is a breathless litany. Prepare to be stopped in your tracks by the back garden, where lovingly-kept tangles of roses, hydrangea, ivy, and herbs will surround you in fragrant tranquility.
2.) 1210 Mount Vernon St. (Spring Garden)
This has to be one of the warmest and most welcoming rentals I’ve ever seen! Five bedrooms, 4.5 baths, and a vast 3,400 square feet of homey prettiness await. Private parking! I dig the delicious wooden cabinets in the kitchen, the gorgeous little restored fireplace, and the striking city views – including a straight view of the statue of Will Penn!
3.) 2340 Carpenter St. (Graduate Hospital)
Super spacious with 4 bedrooms and 1.5 baths over 1,372 sq. ft., this home is bursting with romantic, shabby chic appeal around every turn. Love the colonnades in the living room, narrow, tall windows in the bedrooms, and green double front door! There’s all-new appliances, hardwood throughout, and the sweetest little walled garden in the back.
4.) 226 W. Wildey St. (Fishtown)
I’m not even going to lie, the wallpaper first caught my eye. This 4/2.5, 1,710 sq. ft. townhome boasts an open floorplan, a top-of-the-line kitchen, and a finished basement for even more room! Another personal highlight for me? The masterpiece of a second bathroom, all gorgeous natural stone and glass. The nifty alcoves in the bedrooms – perfect for books or decor – are also delightful.
Where gracious Logan Square living meets state-of-the-art everything, you have 2132 Race Street. Located at the ultra-exclusive, mega-hip King’s Court Mansion townhomes, this home bears the clout of one of Center City West’s best addys, as well as glorious craftsmanship and design.
This beauty sports four bedrooms and four bathrooms spread over a nigh-unimaginable 4,341 square feet. Talk about room to roam! Your family can live, work, play, and rest all at the same time within these walls. As if this home couldn’t best just about anything at a comparable price point in terms of space, style, and technology, to boot it has amenities out the proverbial wazoo. A gated, private entrance, FOUR CAR GARAGE (to revert to chatspeak for a moment: omg), double-sided elevator, home security system, and fully integrated home entertainment system are just some of the luxuries that come packaged with this unit.
The experience starts on the ground floor, which marries wide-open space with perfection of form and function. The ceiling soars two stories high, and glass doors topped with towering, frosted windows allow sunlight to spill in. With vast spaciousness, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, recessed lighting, and a huge gas fireplace, grandeur is ingrained upon you from the moment you cross the threshold.
The walkthrough galley kitchen packs the equivalent of a gourmet chef’s domain into a space-saving footprint. Stainless Viking/Wolf/Miele appliances, granite countertops, and breathtaking custom cabinets just scream “luxury.”
Also on the first floor: a living room/office, additional room, bathroom, and the door to the serene, lovely terrace, where you can unwind and relax after a long day or entertain dinner party guests in ample style.
The second floor encompasses a large media/family room, from which you can control the housewide entertainment center.
Climb to the third floor and find two bedrooms and two full bathrooms, along with a second family room. The living space in this home is just phenomenal.
The master suite covers the entire top floor, as is the style at King’s Court. Prepared to be wowed by this opulent, comfort-drenched retreat, which sports an enormous, custom walk-in closet, dressing room, a master bath decked out in tile of marble and onyx, and a private balcony overlooking the city, in addition to a bathroom that’s the last world in dreaminess. A second gas fireplace adorns this level like the gem that it is.
Like a grand lady, this home is both beautiful AND smart! There’s not only the aforementioned security system, but a sprinkler system as well. This “Smart Home” comes equipped with the technology to control video cameras at both entrances.
All this is to say nothing of the location, location, location in which you’d be living. Walk to Rittenhouse Square and all its related entertainment and conveniences, stroll to the Parkway and soak up the culture at local museums, or simply enjoy the ability to access any shopping or dining you could want within a short jaunt.
Three year tax abatement remaining! There’s an open house this Sunday (7/13) from 1 – 4pm, so go visit. If you have $2,295,000 to spend, this is a hell of a deal.
The art of letterwriting is a lost art, and more’s the pity. There’s something irreplaceable about the experience of sitting down with pen and paper to handwrite a missive to someone. We’ve tried to sub in the speedier, flashier digital equivalents – texts, e-mails, IM, and Kik messages – but analog lives stubbornly on. There’s nothing quite like opening mail from someone you love. The feel of the paper, the lingering scent, and the intimacy of handwriting all betoken a deeper connection than any of our modern communiques.
Those who can appreciate a good letter will be delighted to find out that a Center City pub is hosting themed events on Tuesday nights dedicated to this endangered art. And just in case you needed an incentive – you can totally drink at the same time!
Michael McGettigan owns Doobie’s Bar at 22nd and Lombard. He says that he has grown weary of seeing bar patrons hunched over their phones while visiting her establishment, barely socializing with either seatmates or strangers. McGettigan is a fan of old-fashioned letters, and dreamed up the idea for the “PubLetters” theme nights after being inspired by his other obsession, classic bicycles. Both letters and bikes are throwbacks to a simpler time, he reasons, and we live in a day and age where simplicity is sorely lacking in our lives.
If you’ve never written a letter before, you are still more than welcome to come out! McGettigan himself will offer tips on how to structure and format a letter, and stamps / stationery will be provided to anyone willing to put pen to paper. The bar will be serving its full menu, so you can quaff an icy pint while penning your deepest sentiments.
Frank L. DeFazio, Esq.
Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors
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