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.


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.


Boardwalk Blazes New Path Along Schuylkill

When completed in 2014, the Schuylkill River Trail’s boardwalk will serve not only as a new corridor for pedestrians, cyclists and other visitors along enjoying the river, but will also offer users exciting new ways to experience Philadelphia’s forgotten waterfront spaces and vistas.


At about 2000 feet long and 15 feet wide, the new Schuylkill River Trail Boardwalk (pictured under construction on the left) runs just adjacent to the riverbank, seemingly floating above the Schuylkill as it connects the old trail head at Locust Street to a new one currently under construction under the South Street Bridge. Indeed, once complete, the boardwalk will allow residents of South Philadelphia easier access the Schuylkill River Trail while also avoiding dangerous active freight rail lines that run along Center City’s lower Schuylkill waterfront.


Lane Fike, director of capital programs at the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, recently told Philly.com that project is on track to be completed in August of 2014. In addition to the benefits it will bring Center City, the boardwalk will also serve as an important part of a $60 million project (funded with federal stimulus dollars) that aims to create bike paths running some 90 miles along the Schuylkill River from Philadelphia to Pottsville, Pennsylvania.


A rendering of the Schuylkill Riverbanks Trail Boardwalk (image by Schuylkill Banks)


Perhaps what’s most exciting though about the boardwalk on the Schuylkill Riverbanks Trail isn’t just the new bike and jogging space, but rather in brand new vistas and experiences it will afford visitors. The Schuylkill River is so heavily managed that can be hard to experience the natural surroundings of this green space; However, this project’s organic shape and position over the river will allow visitors to connect with the Schuylkill River in dynamic new ways.


We are of course always delighted to share with you and our clients projects like this, which take Philadelphia’s degraded, post-industrial spaces and breathe new life into them.

Proposed Tower May Change Popular Parks

Once a barren stretch of muddy river water and broken concrete, over the past decade Center City’s Schuylkill riverfront has been transformed into one of the city’s most popular green spaces. A proposed new apartment tower however might radically alter this series of parks, which attracts more than one million visitors annually.


One Riverside, as the project is called, is being proposed by Center City mega-developer Dranoff Properties Inc.. The $85 million, 21 story tower is to be located on the site of what is currently a surface parking lot on 25th and Locust (pictured left), and would feature 167 apartments, 5 penthouses and a large retail space on the ground floor. The plans for One Riverside are sparking big controversy however, as its positioning perpendicular to 25th Street would in effect separate the Schuylkill River Park from the Riverbanks Park, compromising the area’s urban vistas and successful connectivity.


Indeed, One Riverside’s design seems to represent a classic irony of real estate – when a space becomes popular, it draws developers whose projects ultimately alter the very space and success that they seek to capitalize on.


The parks along the Schuylkill attract joggers and walkers, residents and office workers throughout the year.
The parks along the Schuylkill attract joggers and walkers, residents and office workers throughout the year.


For their part, local residents are especially concerned about One Riverside. Along with the issues associated with increased density, the tower would seriously effect the neighboring Schuylkill River Park Community Garden by blocking light and adding other plant stresses. Center City Residents Association (CCRA) is therefore cautioning against the current design, saying “the project has generated considerable comment from our members, most of which has been unfavorable. There is particular concern over the project’s impact on the…Community Gardens and the potential effect on neighborhood traffic.” CCRA President Jeffrey Braff acknowledges though that the project likely won’t need zoning variances, and that his organization has “little leverage other than the power of compelling arguments.”


While One Riverside has bristled the CCRA, Carl Dranoff, the project’s developer, argues the building’s new retail will bring big benefits to the green space. Dranoff recently spoke with the Philadelphia Business Journal, arguing that currently “There’s no place to get a bottle of water, a bagel, a sandwich when you are using the park. (One Riverside’s retail space) will tremendously activate and make (the parks) more attractive.” That kind of amenity could indeed go a long way towards winning over skeptics.


This project ultimately seems to speak to the give and take of Philadelphia’s amazing redevelopment: balancing the need for more vertical living against the continued development of popular new green spaces is the kind of problem many post-industrial cities would dream of having. It’s also an issue that one project is unlikely to put to rest.