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.


Featured Tenant: Doggie Style

Caring for animals is second nature to Howard Nelson, co-owner of Doggie Style Pets, the popular chain of pet stores around Philadelphia. “Growing up we always had cats and dogs, and even a few wild animals”, Howard says. His sister rescued raccoons and other wildlife, and that nurturing environment influenced the future direction of Howard’s life.

After studying business in college and receiving an MBA in Finance from Temple University, Howard started a career in mortgage finance at Fannie Mae. But about ten years ago, the founding owners of Doggie Style asked this animal-loving businessman to manage their company. Before long, Howard and his business partner, Ken Karlan, purchased the business and began expanding and improving the beloved stores.

The first Doggie Style Pets location, at 1635 Spruce Street, owned and managed by Solo Real Estate, underwent a store redesign under Howard’s leadership. Doggie Style Pets acquired space on the second floor in order to meet rising customer demand for more products and grooming services.

Pet Store Manager
Rittenhouse Square Doggie Style Manager Kevin VanRenterghem

Kevin VanRenterghem, the manager of the Spruce Street location, says “It’s wonderful being here. The customers are great and we’re busy around the clock.” The store stocks a vast supply of products for dogs, cats as well as more niche products for smaller animals. In addition to the retail and grooming services, all locations offer store-to-door delivery of their products. Quite a draw in a neighborhood like Rittenhouse, where hauling a 30lb bag of dog food up to a 4th-floor apartment can present quite a challenge.

Corner Pet Store, Doggie Style

However, Howard sought to offer the community more than just supplies and grooming services. In 2014, Howard and Ken acquired their first animal hospital, the Pet Mechanic. The veterinary center offers an impressive array of fairly-priced high-quality medical care.  The Pet Mechanic gives back to the community by providing care for homeless animals in need of adoption at Saved Me Animal Rescue. In 2015, they added a second location at 920 South Street and are now serving both the  Midtown and Northern Liberties neighborhoods.

In addition to operating nine Doggie Style Pets locations and two animal hospitals, Howard also devotes time towards animals in need of rescue. Doggie Style Pets is a principal supporter and partner for Saved Me, a Philadelphia-based animal shelter and adoption center. Each Doggie Style Pets location features an adoptable pet, helping to connect nearly 1,200 animals to loving homes every year. We’re so thrilled to have such a compassionate and inventive business owner operating our space at 1635 Spruce Street and hope them much continued success in the years to come.

Pet Store Window, Doggie Style, Philadelphia

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.

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: 1900 Block of Waverly Street

Step right up…and up and up the unusual 9-step front stoops of the whimsically tall and narrow houses on the 1900 block of Waverly Street! Deeply historic, wonderfully urban, this block is one of the most unique in Philadelphia, in both appearance and in backstory. Step right up to step back in time!

The 1900 block of Waverly Street is comprised of 16 rowhomes, each 14 feet wide by 20 feet deep, with the above-mentioned elevated stoops accommodating a raised basement kitchen at street level.

Waverly is barely the width of a sedan, with no street parking. The skinny stature of the street adds to the Seussian nature of the block. But the Seuss comparisons stop there, as the properties themselves are a classic brick with stately window shutters and decorative elements.

The narrow cartway of the 1900 block of Waverly
The narrow cartway of the 1900 block of Waverly

When these properties were built in 1862, the street was called Ringgold Place, after Colonel Samuel Ringgold. Stone inlays bearing that name can still be seen on the corner properties. Construction during the Civil War era necessitated the small size and simple design of the houses, due to the scarcity of materials in wartime.

The small size was also due to their original use as workers’ housing, likely for the Berkshire Cotton Mill located on the next block at 20th Street and Ringgold Place.

Ringold Place sign context
The original street name, Ringgold Place, can still be seen on this ingraved, inlaid stone sign on a corner property

While 1,000 square feet may seem petite for one family, it is possible that multiple families may have occupied each rowhouse on Ringgold Place! The multiple door (basement and first floor) entries lend themselves to subdivision, and the tendency at the time was to squeeze workers into small quarters and to make the most out of existing housing stock.

A rendering of Berkshire Mills - the houses on 1900 Waverly were likely built to house its workers
A rendering of Berkshire Mills – the houses on 1900 Waverly were likely built to house its workers

By 1895 the Berkshire Mills was closed, and the homes promptly transformed into more fashionable abodes, largely encouraged by the growing influence of Rittenhouse Square.

In 1925, architect George Howe purchased the block, and proceeded to update the properties, clean the facades, and added some decorative elements. The corner property of 1900 Waverly served as his office while working on his acclaimed PSFS building. He sold the homes in 1934.

Ringgold Place formally changed to Waverly Street sometime between 1895-1942, and the block was added National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

City Paper founder Bruce Schimmel and graphic designer Kate Maskar lived on the block from 1983 to 1995, and recount that the street wasn’t always tree-lined. “There were no trees- we had a barbeque fundraiser to purchase and plant trees on the block,” Schimmel recalls.

Today, much of the significant historic charm remains with their classic brick exteriors, raised basement-level kitchens, wood detailing, built-in features, and a wood-burning fireplace. Of it’s density, Schimmel remarks, “It seems close, but there’s intimacy…with privacy. Best stoops in the city.”

Doorways to the raised basement-level kitchens, with whimsically tall stoops arching above them
Doorways to the raised basement-level kitchens, with whimsically tall stoops arching above them

The properties simultaneously have modern appeal with a 2 bed/2.5 bath ratio,  granite counter tops,  and stainless steel appliances.

Moreover, these petite properties remain a relatively affordable sliver of Rittenhouse Square. In recent years properties have sold for less than $500,000, a steal considering prices in the area!

Historic rendering of Berkshire Mills image courtesy of The Necessity for Ruins.

Center City’s 2013 Retail Renaissance

A new report from the Center City District reveals that downtown Philadelphia, long caught between the King of Prussia Mall and New York City, has emerged as a major upscale shopping destination, as retailers use the area’s population density to their advantage.


The Center City District’s annual retail report (seen in full here) features some truly impressive numbers: retail rents along the high-end Walnut Street shopping district have increased by 33.8% from 2012 to 2013, the strongest growth of any major urban retail corridor in the country.


Michelle Shannon, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Center City District, recently discussed this growth with Philly.com, saying that many now “feel like the rubber’s really hitting the road” for Center City retail investments and that “people we wouldn’t see four years ago, or signing leases in Philadelphia, are now open.”


So what’s driving this growth? The report concludes Center City’s amazing density of jobs and residents is a key part of this success story. With over 100,000 residents in walking distance of major shopping streets, plus nearly nine times the office workers of King of Prussia, Center City retailers have easy access to customers.


In addition, this report reveals that district’s workers and residents are among the highest earning in the Philadelphia area as well, making Center City even more attractive to retailers.


Areas outside the Walnut Street shopping district are growing too, like here in Washington Square West.


Of course, as a city famous for its independent spirit, Philadelphians are sometimes wary of embracing the big national brands driving this retail renaissance. Boutiques and independent stores play a critical role in Center City’s retail market and still represent the majority of stores. Encouraging continued big developments, while also helping the city’s small businesses to share in that growth, is critical to ensuring a high quality of life (and sense of style) for Center City’s residents and workers.

Blocks We Love: 2000-2100 Chancellor Street

Because Philadelphia is a city where no two blocks are alike, we wanted to highlight some of the area’s most interesting and vibrant streets. With beautiful architecture, thriving commerce, rich histories and charming communities, these streets represent the best of what life in Philadelphia has to offer.


For over twenty years, Solo Real Estate has been happy to call the 2000 block of Chancellor Street home. While Chancellor Street, at only one car-width wide, may not be a bustling commercial thoroughfare like neighboring Walnut Street, we’ve greatly appreciated how this location has given us the ability to truly set down roots and become part of this special Rittenhouse Square community.


The First Presbyterian Church and the Hockley House on the western end of the 2000 block of Chancellor Street

Of course, as real estate professionals we love the 2000 block’s gorgeous and varied architecture too. On the northeast end of the street, a pretty yellow home from the early part of the 19th century recalls a time when the neighborhood was on the rural outskirts of Philadelphia. At the other end of the block sits a Victorian mansion called the Hockley House; designed by famed architect Frank Furness, it displays his version of Second Empire architecture and features floral motifs, dazzling brickwork and other celebrated elements of his signature style.


Add the modernist 32-story Wanamaker House tower and the postmodern touches on the block’s renovated carriage houses, and this narrow thoroughfare contains a truly impressive array of Philadelphia’s architectural heritage.


This variety of form has created a charmingly diverse group of residents too; Graduate students, empty nesters, young families and plenty of dogs and their owners all bring a vibrancy to this place. Indeed, it’s that seamless blend of grand and quaint, friendly hellos and quiet calm that makes us proud to call this block home.