Monday, October 31, 2011

Sister Cities Plaza

If you follow current Philadelphia news, you have probably heard (or seen) the improvements being made to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. If that's the case, you have probably also heard of the Center City District and its powerful, forward-thinking leader Paul Levy (a post on him will be coming soon).

But if none of this is ringing a bell, my suggestion would be to hop in your car (or on your bike) and take either Kelly Drive or Martin Luther King Jr/West River Drive down to Center City and take a look around. You will notice major renovations going on at the Art Museum (with more in the works), new sidewalks/bike lanes/landscaping, the upcoming Barnes Museum, and much more. This is all part of the CCD's vision to make Philadelphia more attractive for families.

One of the smaller projects being worked on right now is Sister Cities Plaza. This should allow you to learn a little more about Philadelphia's own Champ-Elysees.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Philadelphia has been ranked "#1 US City for Culture"

For Philadelphians, sometimes there's nothing better than beating out cities like New York, Washington DC, and Boston when it comes to measuring what a city has to offer; especially in a category like "culture."

So how did Travel + Leisure measure culture? Some of the categories that pushed Philly to the top of their list were "Historical Sites/Monuments" (we have lots of these), "Sports-Crazed" (no explanation needed), and "Street Food" (just go to University City on a Wednesday at lunchtime). Unless you really stop to think about it, or go on vacation to visit another major city for a few days, it's hard to see all that Philadelphia has to offer during our daily routines. One major reason, Philadelphia has a large population of locals (call us "provincial") and we have been known to take our city for granted.

But if you take off your blinders for a day, it's really not that hard to see why our culture is being recognized. Philly is a big city, but not too big. It has tons of stuff to do, but not too much that you feel overwhelmed. It has unbelievable food options in every neighborhood and surrounding suburb, but you can try almost everything for a reasonable price.

As a loyal Philadelphian, it's nice to see that our city has been recognized for all that it has to offer; its culture.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ever-expanding MilkBoy strikes again

Except this time, it's MilkBoy's recording business.

It looks like the upper levels of the Electric Factory could potentially be MB's new recording headquarters at some point in the future.

Read on.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Promenade of Lights

Back in 1993, when Ed Rendell was Mayor of Philadelphia, one of his goals was to really expand the Center City brand as much as possible. Since South Broad St has always been known as Philadelphia's "Theater District," Rendell decided to capitalize on our existing assets and jump start a new non-profit called "Avenue of the Arts."

Nowadays when you drive down South Broad St, you would think that South Broad St has always looked this cool. Great architecture, lots of theaters, excellent restaurants, and high-end living accommodations. But the truth is, Avenue of the Arts was really what made that all happen.

To build on that success, there is a new plan brewing for North Broad St; and it starts with the "Promenade of Lights."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Manayunk's "Park in the Sky"

From what started out as just another great bike path to connect Philadelphia with Bala Cynwyd, it has now turned into a full-blown, well planned project.

Meetings are being held, community input is being given, and designs are being drawn up. In other words, the Manayunk Bridge Connector (which will connect the Schuylkill River Trail with the Cynwyd Heritage Trail) may end up becoming a walking/running path, bike lane, and aerial park all wrapped in one.

Let's also not forget about the awesome views one will get from being on top of this large structure. Read on for some great details.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Buy & Sell" or "Buy & Hold"?

When investing in real estate, there are a number of different ways that buyers and sellers can make money. The 2 most popular methods are Buy/Sell and Buy/Hold.

Let me break it down for you:

  1. Buy/Sell (a.k.a. "Flip" or "House Flipping"): Most people have heard the term "flip" before, especially if you watch HGTV. This is where an investor buys a property at a low price, and then rehabilitates the home with modern finishes. After the flip is complete, the investor then resells the home for a profit.
  2. Buy/Hold (a.k.a. "Cash Flow" or "Pyramiding"): Investing in rental properties is quickly becoming the most popular way to invest in real estate these days. This is where an investor buys a property at a low price (it may need rehabilitation, it may not), and then finds a reliable tenant who is looking to rent. If the investor pays for the home with cash, almost all of the monthly rent will be profit. If the investor takes a loan/mortgage against the home, the profit is the difference between the monthly payment and monthly rent.

"So which way makes the most sense?" Actually, it depends on the investor and what his/her goals are. I work with some investors who will only look at properties that can be flipped for a profit. I also have other investors who are only interested in rental properties.

"If I'm interested in real estate investing, how do I know which type is right for me?" What it really comes down to are goals. Are you in real estate investing on a short-term or long-term basis? Are you paying with cash, or do you need a loan/mortgage just to take on an investment project? Do you want a big score, or consistent income on a monthly/yearly basis?

These are the types of questions I ask before advising any investor on what might be best for them. This article should also help explain why more investors today are interested in Buy/Hold than Buy/Sell.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

LEED certified high-rise planned for Chinatown

Here are the details:
  • 23 stories (265 feet tall)
  • Mixed-use building (commercial on the bottom, residential on top)
  • LEED certified silver
  • Expansion of Chinatown northward
  • Infill where a parking lot currently sits
Honestly, what's not to like about this project? More approvals are still needed from the city (i.e. zoning, etc.), but my feeling is that this building will go up at some point in the near future.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Welcome to 2400 South

If you thought Naval Square was a big commitment by Toll Brothers to start developing more in Philadelphia (more specifically, in Graduate Hospital), they are starting a new project right around the corner.

2400 South is a $30 Million residential community consisting of 66 new townhomes (and eventually, 56 new condominiums; once Naval Square is closer to being sold out). This will be another huge anchor for one of Philadelphia's hottest neighborhoods.

Question: Why is one of the largest builders in the country, that has consistently built in suburban environments throughout the US, investing so much in our city? Answer: Well planned new construction projects in Philly, that are priced right and built in the right locations, are currently selling at a very good pace. In other words, projects like this are bucking the trend that most new residential projects are currently facing. Young families are deciding to stay in the city, suburbanites are looking for more of an urban lifestyle, and the Center City area offers live/work/play options at affordable prices.

If you are interested in seeing what this project is all about, let me know and I'll set us up with an on-site appointment. Most of my professional career was spent in the residential new construction industry, so be rest assured that you're in good hands with me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

2.0 University Place

Here's another feather in UCity's cap.

Let me lay out the details:

  • New, state-of-the-art office space (97,000 square feet of it).
  • Green roof, with a roof-top garden.
  • A large anchor tenant, which means more jobs for the area.
  • Infill for another vacant lot that will create revenue for the city. 
  • Construction of a new office building in this sluggish economy.

Honestly, nothing but good news for an area of Philadelphia that just keeps on growing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kids and the City

In today's more urban focused environment, where couples from outside of Philadelphia proper actually consider raising their children within city limits, it's no wonder why articles like this one seem to pop up from time to time.

For both Generation X and Generation Y, our lives have been considerably different from those of our parents. The majority of people from our generations have either gone (or are still going) to college, with a large portion of those having lived (or are still living) on their college's campus. Plus, most of our college lives (especially in Philadelphia) were experienced in the city; it's become a familiar environment for us.

We have high expectations for our careers, and we also understand that "job security and pension" are things of the past. Marriage and children are calculated decisions, and are met with a "no rush" philosophy. With all of these factors in mind, it's no wonder why our generations have gravitated toward urban environments. That's where the majority of jobs, entertainment, and people are; it's also much different than what we grew up with, which makes it attractive.

But as we get older, and marriage/children become the next stage in life, we are faced with a daunting decision: City or Suburbs? The answer to that question is not so simple.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Philadelphia's parks are in "high gear"

As quoted by the Huffington Post, "For more than three centuries, city planning, landscape architecture and a unique civic ambition that emphasizes horticulture as much as the pedestrian experience in its public spaces and streetscapes, have made Philadelphia a fascinating city."

Sometimes when someone looks at cities for comparison, they don't always consider parks and open space as an important factor. Philadelphia is one such city that ranks high in this category. This uninformed perspective may also start to change over the next 10 years or so, as cities all over the country look for smarter and more sustainable ways to manage their ecosystems (i.e. storm water runoff, flooding, air pollution, etc.).

Philadelphia has one of the largest urban parks in the US (Fairmount Park), as well as many neighborhood pocket parks that provide green space for over 1.5 million residents. If you would like to read the entire story, please check it out here.