Addison Street Lights Up The Night

When it comes to the holiday season, there is one block in the Historic Rittenhouse-Fitler Square District that attracts more lovers than any other. Every week throughout the year, but especially during the festive season, couples come to the 1700 block of Addison Street to pop the question.

The facade of a rowhome on Addison Street is adorned with cheerful holiday decorations - Image: Cory J Popp
The facade of a rowhome on Addison Street is adorned with cheerful holiday decorations – Image: Cory J Popp

“It’s one of the top five locations in the City for engagements, along with the Rocky Steps and Race Street Pier,” said John Ryan, co-owner of J&J Studios which specializes in wedding, portrait, and special events photography. “They come for the lights,” he said. 

Addison Street proposal. Image courtesy of J & J studios.
Image courtesy of J & J studios.

Residents of 1700 Addison have draped its Ginko trees with lights since 2017. “They are up all year, not just at Christmas. The effect is magical, especially when it snows,” said Ryan. “Those lights, combined with the orange of the streetlights above the trees, give the effect of an arch overhead illuminating the street with a warm glow. This little side street has been named by multiple different sources as one of the prettiest streets in not only Philadelphia but the Northeast United States.” 

Colonial architecture and twinkling lights combine on Addison Street - Image: Cory J Popp
Colonial architecture and twinkling lights combine on Addison Street – Image: Cory J Popp

It’s not just during the winter that the street is glorious. After it rains, everything sparkles. (With a nod to sustainability, there are 15,000 energy-efficient LED bulbs twinkling in the trees.)

“Usually, it’s the groom who contacts me and sets up the surprise proposal which starts off with dinner in a Rittenhouse Square restaurant like Barclay Prime,” said Ryan. “It’s such a popular engagement site that sometimes there are multiple couples and photographers the same evening.”

A proposal image on Addison Street, Philadelphia. Image courtesy of J & J studios.
Image courtesy of J & J studios.

So how do the residents of this charming Colonial block feel about flashbulbs popping on a regular basis? “Sometimes they are annoyed but mostly they are good-natured. One night, while I was photographing a couple, a resident opened his door and offered them a bottle of Champagne,” said Ryan.

A man walks two dogs on the 1700 Block of Addison Street - Image: Cory J Popp
A man walks two dogs on the 1700 Block of Addison Street – Image: Cory J Popp

Many of the couples Ryan shoots on Addison Street end up hiring him to photograph their wedding. “We offer a special discount following the engagement photoshoot. Then, following the wedding, we offer a Client for Life discount. We do one free shoot per year and they get to decide how many photos they want to buy. This way they can document their milestones – anniversaries, births, graduations, etc.”

Addison Street on a fall afternoon - Image: Cory J Popp
Addison Street on a fall afternoon – Image: Cory J Popp

Placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1995, the red brick houses on Addison Street were built in the late 19th Century and many have 21st-century upgrades. Colonial style, evident in the exterior brick, marble steps, wooden shutters, window boxes, crown moldings, beamed ceilings, and traditional fireplaces exists in harmony with contemporary kitchens and bathrooms. Many have lovely patios and landscaped courtyards. Note the iron posts for tying up horses. If you truly fall in love with the 1700 block of Addison, this three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath, row houses sell in the $700K range. Or rent one for $3K.

Now considered one of the best blocks in Philly, in the mid-1950s, it was once part of a low-income neighborhood that was included in a horticulture beautification program organized by the Neighborhood Gardens Association, a precursor to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

You don’t have to be in love to appreciate the timeless charm of the 1700 block of Addison Street which the Huffington Post proclaimed the “arguably the prettiest street in the entire Northeast.” You just need a sense of wonder and delight.

Take the time to stop by to see it for yourself this holiday season.  

A festive home on Addison Street
 - Image: Cory J Popp
A festive home on Addison Street
– Image: Cory J Popp

The 1700 block of Addison Street is just one of Philadelphia’s many charming alleys. Read about a few more of our favorites in our article on Philadelphia Alleys.

The Secret Life of Buildings: Jewelers’ Row

The oldest diamond district in America, Philadelphia’s Jewelers’ Row District, located from Market to Walnut and from 7th to 9th Street, is about to change. Amidst properties dating back to 1799, construction crews are making way for a modern glass condominium tower. However, a look back in history reveals that this iconic street has endured major transitions before.

Jewelers’ Row History

Before it became known as Jewelers’ Row, the 700 block of Sansom Street started in 1799 as a housing development known as Carstairs Row. Designed by architect Thomas Carstairs, it introduced the concept of rowhouses in the United States. Developed by William Sansom, for whom the street was named, the project contained 22 Georgian-style rowhouses on the south side of Sansom Street. While many surrounding streets were covered in dirt, Sansom paved the street with red brick which is still visible today. 

Many of the original Carstairs houses no longer exist, however, 700 Sansom Street remains much as it was originally built. It stands as an example of the present coexisting with elements of the City’s past. Ironically, when construction of the glass condo tower resumes, it will share a wall with this historic property.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the 700 block of Sansom Street was the center of the engraving trade, due to its proximity to the City’s thriving printing industry. Edgar Allan Poe’s engraver lived and worked at 732 Sansom.

When Eastern European and Jewish immigrants poured into Philadelphia between the 1880s and early 1900s, they gravitated to Sansom street as watchmakers and jewelers. Before 1908, only five jewelers were on the street; that number exploded to more than two hundred establishments by 1930. Barsky Diamonds at 724 Sansom was part of that history. 

Barsky Diamonds

“We’re a fifth-generation manufacturer of diamonds and fine jewelry,” said owner Jeff Barsky. “My great grandfather came here from Kiev in 1898 and had auction houses on Market Street. Later, my grandparents manufactured leather watchbands and sold them at a booth they rented at 706-708 Sansom. While my grandfather traveled around Pennsylvania selling watchbands, my grandmother expanded the business, buying and selling jewelry. Eventually, she bought the buildings she had been renting.”

In the 1960s, working on Jewelers’ Row was the last thing on young Jeff Barsky’s mind. “At the time, I wanted to do anything but go into the family business. I was an artist and got accepted at PAFA. To pay my tuition, I worked in the store,” he said. Barsky later formed a partnership with his uncle Jay and traveled to New York City to learn how to buy rough diamonds. “I really came to enjoy it,” he said. And, yes, he still paints.

As for current changes on Jewelers’ Row, Barsky is pragmatic. “Manufacturing moved overseas. There are fewer retail stores and more residential properties. The tower that’s under construction will have retail shops on the first floor.  That will be good for business,” he said.

Architectural Styles

The majority of buildings within the Jewelers’ Row District date from 1800 to 1940, ranging in styles from Federal, Italianate, Victorian, Renaissance Revival, Beaux-Arts, 20th Century Commercial, Art Deco, and Mid-Century Modern. The variety of styles reflects the district’s ability to adapt to changing trends over a century. Check out the Jewelry Trades Center designed by Ralph Bencker in 1929 at the southeast corner of Sansom and 8th St. In this building, the average tenant has been in the building for over 20 years, with many over 40 years. It serves as the center for Jewelers’ Row, passing down the art of manufacturing fine jewelry through various generations.

In 2016, real estate company Toll Brothers obtained a permit to construct a twenty-four-story glass condo tower on the 700 block of Sansom Street. Five buildings, from 702 to 710 Sansom were scheduled to be demolished. Although the pandemic paused construction, a large hole in the middle of Sansom Street is a reminder that change is inevitable. 

This is not the first time a famous Philadelphia shopping district has changed its stripes. The former Antique Row on Pine Street, Fabric Row on South 4th Street and Automobile Row on North Broad have all given way to shifts in demographics and economics.

Old photograph of 700 R & W Jewelers on 7th and Sansom Street

All the more reason to visit Jewelers’ Row District now. Explore its shops, chat with its craftsmen, support the businesses in the area by dining in the eclectic eateries there and experience its history. Who knows? You just may get a good deal on a diamond, and a good story to pass on to the next generation. 

This article is part of a series titled “The Secret Life of Buildings” where we write about the history and architecture behind Philadelphia’s buildings. We’ve covered row house styles, common Philadelphia brick styles, trinity homes,and star bolts, among other topics. What else would you like to learn about? Follow us and DM us on Facebook or Instagram to let us know!

2126 Locust Street Renovation

When a fire at the building next door damaged Edward Grinspan’s property at 2126 Locust Street, he embraced the opportunity to renovate and reimagine the 8 (now 6) apartments. Grinspan poured thoughtfulness into every aspect of these truly unique apartments, all while preserving the original character of the building. 


Grinspan self-describes as a “frustrated architect”. Thus, he approached this remodel as if he was making each unit for himself, or for one of his children. The care taken with every last detail reflects this commitment to quality. Each unit was designed with consideration towards how people will actually live in the spaces.


Since all of his kids are avid cooks, he took a lot of advice from them on the kitchen remodels. Each unit features a spacious, light-filled kitchen with stainless steel appliances, dishwasher, and beautiful caesarstone countertops.


There are also in-unit washer dryers, plenty of windows, and modern bathrooms.



Pair these contemporary conveniences with the building’s original details and it’s the best of both worlds with these gorgeous apartments. Preserved features include refinished hardwood floors, restored leaded windows and stained glass, decorative fireplaces and mantels, the stairwell banister, original front door, and brownstone steps and mosaic tiles (an accidental but very special discovery) in the entryway.



Grinspan hasn’t just combined the charm of an old building with the advantage of modern upgrades. He also employed some creative solutions to tricky problems encountered along the way. For example, in the first floor unit he discovered a structural brick wall that he couldn’t knock out. So, instead he built around it, creating a bonus office space for the 1 bedroom unit and using a tripartite window between the living room and bedroom, inspired by New York City tenements, to maximize light and air flow.


Some other innovations made during the renovation were turning two small studios into a sleek bi-level 1 bedroom unit; opening up an underutilized attic to create a gorgeous vaulted cathedral ceiling on the top floor unit; and fabricating a truly one-of-a-kind tri-level 2 bedroom perfectly suited for roommates.



Grinspan’s attention to detail, care for preservation, and commitment to high quality design are enough on their own to make Solo happy to work with him. However, we have another reason to be thrilled about renting out these apartments. That reason is that Grinspan also just happens to be an old friend of the Solo family.


Not only have Edward and Deborah known each other since the two were children, the families have always been close. Grinspan is quick to note that the Solo’s were indispensable in getting him up and running when he originally bought the building in 2000. Solo helped him set up an LLC, taking care of all of the legalese in addition to managing and renting out the apartments. Working with Solo Realty made everything simple and streamlined, Grinspan remarks.


We can’t wait to share these exciting new rental units with you coming up this month! See the first available unit here.


Solo’s Ten Picks For Holiday Fun In Philly

When it comes to the holiday season, Philadelphia has no shortage of festivities. From the neighborhood light shows to official Center City holiday markets, if you are itching to celebrate, you will not have to look far to satisfy your festive winter urges. This week we decided to round up just a handful of the many, many holiday events going on throughout the city. Check out some of our personal favorites below!


Photo of the Miracle on South 13th Street in Passyunk Square by unexpectedphilablog.com.


Miracle On South 13th Street

We wrote about Philadelphia’s longstanding tradition of block-wide holiday light displays last year. The most famous of these shows is the Miracle on South 13th Street, and this always tops our list for sites to check out around the holidays because it represents so much of what this city is about – community, collaboration, and festivity. For some info on a few other notoriously decorated blocks in the city check out our previous blog entry on the topic.



Crowds gather at LOVE Park for the opening of the Christmas Village. (Photo by Tud09851 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Christmas Village in LOVE Park

Despite the construction at LOVE Park, the Christmas Village is up and running this year! Take care of all your holiday gift shopping needs here at this open-air market. Vendors stationed in old fashioned wooden vending stalls will have items ranging from crafts, jewelry, art, toys, ornaments, and other holiday fare. For a list of vendors and special events head over to the Christmas Village website.

Dilworth Park Wintergarden

Just across the street from the Christmas Village you’ll find even more Center City holiday festivities. At Dilworth you can enjoy an ice skating rink, seasonal food & drink, a made-in-Philadelphia market, and plenty more!



A nighttime scene at the riverside skating rink.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

For an even larger rink to show off your ice skating skills on head over to Penn’s Landing to experience the amazing riverside ice rink. Fun seasonal cocktails and snacks are also available for purchase at this beautiful winter wonderland.


Chanukah Wonderland at Please Touch Museum

On December 13 swing by the Please Touch Museum for a pop-up Chanukah event with crafts, music, games, and more! Discover all that holiday fun that surrounds Chanukah. The event is free with regular admission to the museum.

Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle

The Franklin Square Electrical Spectacle is a holiday light show like you’ve never seen before. Watch the scene as more than 50,000 lights illuminate the park along with a festive soundtrack. The show pops off every 30 minutes from November 9 through December 31 excluding Christmas Day. Sundays through Thursdays the show runs 4:30-8:00 pm and until 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

A Longwood Christmas

While not in Philadelphia proper, we couldn’t resist including the Longwood Gardens Christmas display on our list. See the beautiful gardens transformed into a festive holiday season extravaganza. This year’s theme is French-inspired and will feature topiaries, wreaths, decorated trees, and floating cranberries, apples, and gilded walnuts. The holiday display is viewable now through January 7th, but act quick since advance tickets are required! Find out more here.

A Very Philly Christmas at Fairmount Park

This year, in conjunction with Parks & Recreation, five beautiful historic homes in Fairmount Park will be decked out in holiday decorations and filled with fun events for all ages to enjoy. Different events consist of musical performances, house tours, seasonal treats such as hot cocoa, and children’s activities. Find out more about visiting here.


Macy’s holiday display. Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcapaldi/11358573735/.


Christmas Light Show at Macy’s Center City

A longstanding cornerstone of the Philadelphia holiday scene, the light show and Wanamaker Organ Concert are sure to become a staple of your holiday routine. The light show and concert, complete with floating reindeer and snowflakes, run through December 31 every two hours starting at 10:00 am and with the last show at 8:00 pm. So stop by the Center City Macy’s, located in the historic Wanamaker Building at 1300 Market Street for some classic Philadelphia holiday cheer.


Photo of Boathouse Row all lit up by michaelwm25 [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Chanukah Candle Lighting

Join the Center City Kehillah at Rittenhouse Square for the annual candle lighting. Mingle with the local community and enjoy some holiday treats as well! The event will take place on December 18 at 5:00 pm. Check out the details here. If Rittenhouse Square isn’t convenient for you, there will also be a menorah lighting on December 12 on Boathouse Row.



Featured photo is of Rittenhouse Square taken by Marc Cappelletti https://www.flickr.com/photos/marccappelletti/11515689706.

The Secret Life of Buildings: Residential Courts

In our last Secret Life of Buildings post we tackled trinity homes. What we didn’t get around to mentioning are the residential courts that many houses of this style are nestled into. Residential courts are the smallest of the small streets, cartways, and alleyways that were carved out of William Penn’s Greene Country Towne in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are so small, in fact, that these dead end nooks are pedestrian only, often with an communal courtyard space.


Often gated and consisting of anywhere from three to twelve homes on average and typically (though not always) bandbox style, these petite residential courts are yet another distinctive feature of Philadelphia’s urban design and built environment.


Lewis Court in Fishtown dates back to 1797.


Unfortunately, fewer of these residential court have survived into the 20th century than the trinity homes of our earlier exploration. The small scale, dense houses were historically built for craftsmen and factory workers, and as these industries faded in the 20th century, so did much of the housing.


As a city that cherishes history, however, Philadelphia held on to a handful of these residential courts. Some might sit right in your neighborhood without you ever having noticed since they’re such hidden secrets of the city. A few of the most architecturally or historically pertinent courts have even made their way onto the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Among those are Loxley and Bladen’s Courts in Old City and Drinker’s and Bell’s Courts in Society Hill.


Bell’s Court in Society Hill (above) was not always closed off to traffic (see below).


The common form that the residential court takes is with one or two larger houses fronting a main street with an attached row of trinities behind accessed by an alleyway between the two or beside the one street fronting properties.


Here is a residential courtyard tucked away on the petite Waverly Street in Washington Square West.


While some of the most iconic Philadelphia residential courts still standing today are in Old City, Society Hill, Queen Village, and Rittenhouse, this housing type was at one time even more common in neighborhoods like Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and Kensington. The reason for this was mainly that the courts were built to house factory workers efficiently and close by to the workplace which were frequently located in these River Wards neighborhoods.


Earl Court in Fishtown is an example of a residential court in the Riverwards that still remains today.


Many of the residential courts in these neighborhoods just northeast of Center City vanished after the industrial age and in the wake of the construction of I-95 between 1959-1979. While these homes were not necessarily notable for their architectural style since they were of a straightforward and unadorned construction, they are significant for their representation of a local housing type and as a distinct iteration of 19th century urban design in Philadelphia. We’ve touched on a few residential courts in prior blog posts, like our Blocks We Love on 700 Miller Street and 700 North Bodine Street.


Not only are these homes desirable for their historic connection, original features, and quiet, private space that is separated from the main street, they also are uniquely Philadelphia. Many of the courts are so obscured within the city’s blocks many people don’t even realize they exist. As a hidden secret of Philadelphia, the residential courts tell a story about the city’s early development, industrial roots, and distinction as a city of streets of rowhomes within streets of rowhomes within streets of rowhomes.


Featured Tenant: Thrive Pilates

In 2009 when Philly Power Yoga studio owner Steve Gold reached out to Hally Bayer about joining forces with a combined yoga and pilates studio, something in her said to just go for it. While at the time she had only met Gold briefly through a friend, she had been running her pilates studio out of her apartment since moving to Philadelphia from Atlanta in 2007, and the prospect of a full studio space was too exciting to turn town. Bayer quickly found a home away from home at Solo Realty’s 2016 Walnut Street space just off Rittenhouse Square, and the unbeatable combo of Philly Power Yoga & Thrive Pilates was born.


One of the biggest issues confronting city fitness facilities is space. There’s almost never enough of it. Despite the constraints that might come with locating in such a dense and busy hub, Bayer has managed to build a comprehensive pilates and fitness program. In addition to pilates she coordinates classes in meditation, barre, and cardio with around twenty teachers. The combination of all these different class options along with Gold’s yoga practice is one of the huge draws of Thrive Pilates.



Neighborhood residents, office workers and commuters on their lunch break, and people from all around the city flock to the beautiful and well equipped Rittenhouse studio to get their mind and body wellness fix.


Despite having grown so quickly and expanding to offer a wide range of classes, Bayer remains committed to maintaining small class sizes. She knows everyone’s name and, beyond that, truly takes an interest in the lives of her fellow teachers and students. This is evident as she walks me through the space, showing me around, introducing me to everyone we encounter, and breaking off on countless tangents inquiring about recent vacations, life developments, and more. Bayer embodies the very warmth that she also seeks to establish in her studio space.



This connectivity and community underlies Bayer’s vision for the studio. As a home away from home, the space exists as a community in and of itself, and a kind, friendly place of nurturing. The goal is for everyone to feel welcome and to thrive at Thrive Pilates.


Not only does Bayer epitomize this welcoming, nurturing nature and instill this in her teachers and students, the space at 2016 Walnut plays an important role in establishing this tone as well. The old building is full of quirkiness and character. The coziness that comes from old spaces with wood floors creates an immediate sense of warmth and comfort. The huge windows are also a major asset, allowing plenty of natural light to flow into the space.



In order to have a fulfilling practice for both mind and body, it is imperative that all people feel comfortable in the space. It is obvious why Philly Power Yoga & Thrive Pilates is one of the most popular studios in the area – beyond the amazing repertoire of classes, this is a place you truly want to spend time in. It’s a space full of positivity of all kinds that encourages each individual to thrive in their own way.


We at Solo Realty love having such amazing tenants in our Rittenhouse building at 2016 Walnut Street. Bayer and the rest of the team at Thrive Pilates are such a boon to the Rittenhouse neighborhood and the Philadelphia community as a whole. Check out their website for information on classes designed for students of all shapes, sizes, and levels of experience.  


Blocks We Love: 2700 South Street

If you’ve ever sat on the fence, unable to decide between bustling downtown living or a more relaxed neighborhood set up, the 2700 block of South Street might peak your interest. Philadelphia is such a great city because it settles somewhere in the middle of skyscrapers, high-rises, and all of the action they denote, and the low-rise, neighborhood scale that comes from the city’s immense stock of rowhomes.


Sometimes referred to as Devil’s Pocket or “The Pocket” for short, this little nook is situated in the middle of beautiful, historic Fitler Square and hip Graduate Hospital, at the nexus where Center City gives way to University City. This stretch of seven petite, colorful rowhomes feels quaint and intimate, yet right in the midst of the beating heart of city living in Philadelphia.



Each home sports a matching door, pediment, and cornice, painted in a color unique from the others in the row. The overall impression is one of cohesiveness. Despite the multitude of hues represented amongst the twelve rowhomes, the uniformity of the doors with their unique pediment and continuous cornice line puts forth the image of a united front.


The simple pediment above each home’s door harkens back to the Colonial period. While it is unlikely that these houses are quite that old, it is possible that they date as far back as 1895. The style of the housing stock, particularly as evidenced in earlier photographs which show simple, unadorned, three-story brick structures, suggests a turn of the century construction. The pediments were likely added at some point in the past half century as a cosmetic upgrade or as part of more significant renovations.


Two photographs from the mid-1900s of the area: Facing West on 27th Street in 1953 showing the row of homes on the 2700 block and the South Street Bridge (Above); Taken from Schuylkill Ave in 1949 showing the irregular parcel shape of the corner property from behind (Below). Source: PhillyHistory.org. http://www.phillyhistory.org. Philadelphia Department of Records (accessed August 26, 2017).


On historic maps of Philadelphia there are parcels indicated on this block as early as 1895, with eight parcels outlined. The correct number of slots, seven, don’t show up until 1942. Possibilities to explain this difference in parcel count include that the homes were combined at one point to form larger properties, the end unit alone was transformed from two to one to compensate for the unconventional angle taken at the corner, or the homes could have been raised and rebuilt entirely. A remaining explanation comes down to a simple error in transcription from on the ground surveying to mapmaking.


Two historic maps of Philadelphia: 1895 Bromley Atlas showing 8 parcels (Above) and 1942 Works Progress Administration Land-Use Map showing 7 parcels (Below). Source: Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network Interactive Maps Viewer, http://www.philageohistory.org/tiles/viewer/.


Over time, each homeowner has imbued the facades with their own personal flair, through paint colors, “front lawn” furniture, and a variety of well kept plants and flowers.


We love this block for its historical significance, charming facades, one of a kind location at the core of three major parts of the city, and proximity to great Philadelphia mainstays like the South Street Bridge, Schuylkill River Trail, and Fitler Square Park.


Philadelphia Phases In The New With These Big Developments

Taking a step away from some of the major new developments gathering buzz around Center City – the monumental new skyscraper for the Comcast Tower and the contested Toll Brother’s plans for Jewelers’ Row are a few that come to mind – we decided to take a look at some other notable projects shaping our neighborhoods.


Rendering for the new Yards Brewery at 5th & Spring Garden. Courtesy of Digsau.


  • Yards Brewery

Taking up a new home in the former Destination Maternity building at 5th & Spring Garden, Yards Brewing Company has a whole lot of space to fill in the whopping 70,000 square foot structure. Luckily the team behind Yards and collaborators at Digsau, a Philadelphia based urban design and architecture firm, are up to the talk. A $19 million dollar affair, this inspiring project includes a beer garden, large scale brewing facility, a tasting room sporting a full food menu as well, and potential space for other businesses. According to recent announcements there are plans for a Target to open in this space as well. With so many big box buildings with little commercial activity, this Yards facility could be just what is needed to attract more pedestrian activity along this stretch of Spring Garden Street.




The lot at the NW corner of Broad & Washington that Lincoln square will fill. 


  • Lincoln Square

Brought to the city by MIS Capital LLC and Alterra Property Group, this 3.4 acre, full city block development at Washington Ave & Broad Street is focused on mixed-use. Plans for the project include 322 apartment units, 100,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery store, and 400 parking spaces. Visually, the building will have an 8-story apartment tower with two stories of retail below. Construction is scheduled to start this year, with completion set for late 2018. One notable feature of the project is the 1876 train depot included on the site which the developers plan to restore and most likely use for retail.


  • 1220 Frankford Ave Hotel

Brought to Fishtown by Roland Kassis’ Domani Developers Inc, of Frankford Hall, La Colombe, and, most recently, City Fitness fame this project might be the developer’s most ambitious undertaking yet. Kassis is working with architect Morris Adjmi to create a 114 room hotel, something previously unheard of in the neighborhood. Plans for this six-story hotel include a rooftop pool, skyline views, room prices ranging from $80-200 a night, a handful of restaurants, and office space. While WM Mulherin’s Sons at Front & Master Streets claimed the prize for the first hotel in Fishtown, 1220 Frankford Ave will achieve something of an even larger scale.



  • Fishtown Village, Suite Row, and Avenue 30

A number of plans for big housing developments in the Fishtown and Kensington neighborhoods are popping up boasting their status at gated communities. Marlborough Development LLC brings Fishtown Village at Marlborough & Wildey Streets, while further north in East Kensington a collaboration between United Makers and Philly Home Girls, Suite Row, is underway at Cumberland & Jasper Streets. Lastly, Riverwards Group & KJO Architects have recently broken ground on their own large gated townhouse community on the 2600 blocks of both Amber and Collins Streets. Starting prices for these homes range from $339-700,000.


Two renderings for the Reading Viaduct Rail Park: The access staircase at 13th & Noble (top) and one example of the seating and design (bottom). Courtesy of Studio Bryan Hanes.



  • Reading Viaduct Rail Park

Demolition is underway, with 80% completed, and on track for development at the highly anticipated Reading Viaduct Rail Park. Taking inspiration, and lessons, from New York City’s Highline project, this reuse and remodeling of a formerly abandoned viaduct rail will present a boon to the surrounding community. So far workers on the project have mostly been dealing with remediating soil, making sure the site is clean and safe for planting, and restoring stone walls in collaboration with Studio Bryan Hanes. The next stage will focus on building foundations for the access stairway that will be at 13th & Noble Street, repairing any damage to bridges and doing important waterproofing, installing metal railings along the edges for safety, and doing the first phase of planting and painting.


Construction is well under way at East Market.


  • The Gallery & East Market

In addition the much discussed total renovation at the Gallery on East Market Street, just down the street is another large scale development. While this is still part of Center City, the promise this project holds for this specific enclave of downtown is significant. East Market is springing up on the entire block between Market, Chestnut, 11th, and 12th Streets. The project consists of three buildings – two residential towers with retail on the ground level and office space at Family Court Building which is also being renovated. One residential tower, the Ludlow, designed by BLT Architects is geared more towards millennials with a younger vibe and smaller units, while the other, a collaboration between Morris Adjmi and BLT Architects will target more established professionals and families. One special feature here is the pedestrian-only street that will cut through the middle of the block, connecting Market & Chestnut. This project checks off most of the design and planning boxes with its focus on mixed-use development, pedestrian accessibility, and underground parking.


Check back in the upcoming weeks for more information about how Solo Realty is getting involved in Philadelphia’s new construction boom with our own project – Kensington Yards. We are really excited about this development and look forward to giving some updates about its progress and more features on our various collaborators.


Featured image via Map data ©2017 Google.

Big Changes Coming to Philly Skyline

It seems like every week developers announce plans to build a major new residential project in and around Center City. All this construction has the potential to bring big changes to Philadelphia.

The week from February 12th and February 19th, 2014 was an extraordinary one for Philadelphia’s real estate sector. In those seven days, not one but three plans for large residential projects were made public. Between designs for a 32-story apartment tower at 16th and Vine, an 8.5 acre, multi-story residential complex at 23rd and Arch, and a 429-foot residential/commercial development at 7th and Market, these projects (if approved) would add hundreds of new apartments to Philadelphia at roughly the same time.

These announcements come on the heels of nearly a dozen other major highrise residential projects that are either under construction or in the works. This, coupled with literally dozens of smaller low-rise developments, suggests Philadelphia is entering a building boom the likes of which it has not seen in decades.

Before you reach for the antacids, let’s note that all signs point to the strength and potential of the local real estate market. A recent survey of sales and investments in central Philadelphia neighborhoods for the year 2013 confirmed this. While the residential rental vacancy rate in Center City has increased slightly over the past year due to more supply, the rate of 3.3% is still very healthy. Developers then are likely trying to strike while this iron is hot (which it strongly appears to be).

Of course, in a city with such a rich cultural and architectural legacy, we have to hope this new building fits in with and encourages the growth of Philadelphia’s unique urbanism and beauty. Critics have pointed out that not all these projects achieve those goals.

These projects, if completed, could have myriad effects – some bad, some good. While too many new apartments could depress the rental market, too few could slow the growing investment in Philadelphia. One thing is for sure though: it’s becoming clear that our skyline will look very different in just a few year’s time…