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High-rise apartments coming to Rittenhouse Square; Philly nonprofit repairs

If you find yourself in the Rittenhouse Square area anytime soon, you might wonder what’s going on at 19th and Sansom Streets. Well, we’ve got answers.

Philly-based developer Pearl Properties has started knocking down four buildings there to make way for a tower with up to 54 floors and 215 homes.

Pearl first told the city in 2020 that it wanted to build a tower a block from Rittenhouse Square. It got permission that year, but there have been no signs of construction — until now.

Keep scrolling for that story and to see how a Philly nonprofit has been keeping residents in their homes, find out what $12 million buys you in Gladwyne, and peek inside this converted beer distributor in Spring Garden.

📮 If you could turn any nonresidential building into your next home, what would it be and why? For a chance to be featured in my newsletter, email me.

— Michaelle Bond

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The pandemic made 2020 a tough year to be a Philly developer, but for certain projects, it’s no picnic now.

Fewer large residential buildings are breaking ground these days because of high interest rates and construction costs. At the same time, lots of new apartment buildings are opening, which could mean developers won’t be able to charge the rents they’d need to repay construction loans.

At 19th and Sansom Streets, preservationists are worried that in the short term, Pearl might only have the funds to knock down the existing buildings without constructing what’s supposed to replace them. They don’t want another Jewelers Row hole situation.

Keep reading for more about how we got here, the proposed timeline of the Harper Square project, and what it might look like.

As any homeowner knows, maintaining a home can be expensive. Owners with low or fixed incomes are more likely to push off repairs, which only makes problems worse. Homes can become unhealthy, unsafe, or uninhabitable. Owners can lose a roof over their heads and their source of generational wealth.

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is a nonprofit that repairs and improves homes for free. Since 1989, it’s helped 2,100 homeowners.

Last week, my colleague Kevin Riordan went to one of the nonprofit’s signature events: a Block Build. More than a hundred volunteers, contractors, and people in the trades came out to work on 10 neighbors’ homes in West Philly.

Repairs are key to keeping people in their homes and making sure the city has affordable homes. Improving properties on or near the same block can help revitalize neighborhoods and reduce crime.

Keep reading to learn more about Rebuilding Together Philadelphia and the difference home repairs can make in people’s lives.

The latest news to pay attention to

Karen and Ed D’Alba’s home in Spring Garden has lived a bunch of different lives. The 6,000-square-foot building used to house horses. Then it sent delivery trucks on their way with kegs of beer. After the beer distributor moved, an artist who bought the property carved it into studios and living space.

And now all five levels of the building belong to the D’Albas. They put in an elevator so they can stay there as they get older. And the new curved stairway is “welcoming and more interesting” than a straight one, Karen said.

They preserved work that previous owners did, such as the atrium where light streams through the glass roof into the heart of the building. And they kept the apartment for guests to use.

But they also made the home their own by adding a roof deck, bathrooms, white oak floors, and more. One of their grandchildren throws parties in the new club room.

Learn more about the history of this building and see how the property went from a nuisance on the block to a highlight.

🧠 Trivia time

Student housing companies are trying to stop a campaign to turn a West Philly neighborhood into a historic district, a move that would make demolitions difficult. Spruce Hill has one of the largest collections of Victorian architecture in the country, and its historic district would be the largest Philly has considered in over 20 years.

Question: About how many properties would be included in the Spruce Hill Historic District?

A) 500

B) 1,000

C) 2,000

D) 3,000

This story has the answer.

📊 The market

We’re getting deeper into the busy spring housing market. And we’re not going to stop talking about the low supply of homes for sale anytime soon.

Across the Philly metro area, fewer homes were on the market in March than at the same time last year. Low supply is helping to keep home prices high.

And it’s slowing activity. The region saw fewer closed and pending sales last month compared to the same time last year.

According to the multiple listing service Bright MLS:

🔻The number of new listings in March was down 11%…

Read More: High-rise apartments coming to Rittenhouse Square; Philly nonprofit repairs

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