Philly’s market for high-end penthouses

2 months ago
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Wanna know what $25 million can buy you in Philly? An empty space atop the city’s tallest luxury residential tower.

Last week, I went up to the 48th floor of the 48-floor Laurel condo building to check out one of the most expensive penthouses for sale in the city. It’s a raw space that a buyer would hire an architect to customize.

Agents who sell Philly’s most expensive penthouses said that after a 2023 that was just OK, the city’s high-end luxury market is looking up in the first few months of 2024.

Keep scrolling for that story and to find out what’s going on at a Main Line estate once owned by a Campbell Soup heir, learn about homeowners commissioning original artwork, and see which nonresidential building a fellow newsletter reader imagines herself living in.

📮Do you have a piece of art in your home that you really love? For a chance to be featured in my newsletter, email me.

If someone forwarded you this email, sign up for free here.

The Laurel soars above Rittenhouse Square as one of the latest luxury residential towers to finish construction in the city. From its highest penthouse, you can see Conshohocken and Villanova on a clear day.

The home is not even the most expensive penthouse for sale in the city.

A two-level penthouse in Society Hill with 8,900 square feet of space inside, 2,500 square feet of space outside, and four parking spaces is on the market for $25.9 million.

And don’t worry, renters with money to spend. There are pricey options for you, too. A 5,000-square-foot, two-level penthouse in Center City is looking for a tenant who’ll pay $29,995 a month (That’s not a typo.).

Keep reading for more about Philly’s high-end penthouse market — including more multimillion-dollar homes for sale — and see what these homes look like.

That’s the opening bid for an estate on the Main Line that was the longtime home of John T. “Jack” Dorrance, whose father invented Campbell’s condensed soup. The current owners hope to sell it during an online auction next month.

The secluded estate was built almost a century ago and has been on and off the market for a decade. At one point, the property was listed for sale at a price that is more than three times what is now the opening bid.

The owners for the last 35 years have been the Burch family. Bob and Susan are looking to downsize into something “a little more manageable,” Bob said.

The property has a tennis court, two swimming pools, gardens, and several homes.

If $3.5 million is too steep of an opening bid for your virtual auction paddle, you don’t have to buy the whole property. Bidders also can compete for one of two pieces of it:

🏘️ a 13.8-acre property with a 14,467-square-foot main house, a guesthouse and more

🏘️ a 12.4-acre property with a primary home, a guesthouse, and more

Take a look and learn more about the estate and the auction, including the starting bids for each of these two properties.

The latest news to pay attention to

Finding the perfect piece of art for that empty space on your wall can feel intimidating. It has to be the right size. It has to feature the right colors. It has to make you feel how you want to feel when you look at it.

So some homeowners who can’t find what they want at home decor shops, thrift stores, or galleries or who want a piece that they’ve helped design are having artists create original pieces just for them.

A local married couple started a business to connect these homeowners with original artwork. Jay Gutnick gets a sense of his client’s taste and budget and goes from there. He’s commissioned more than 100 pieces nationally.

Brittany Hakimfar, an interior designer who lives in Bryn Mawr, wanted an abstract piece to connect the home’s upper and lower floors. Homeowner Eileen Teng wanted a decorative centerpiece for her Philadelphia condo.

Take a look at the pieces in their homes and find out how Gutnick and his wife, Rachel, got into the business of connecting homeowners with artwork.

Montgomery County has abandoned a controversial plan to demolish a Gothic landmark and is now looking for someone to redevelop the property. The former Montgomery County Prison in Norristown has been closed since the 1980s.

Question: Napoleon LeBrun, the prison’s designer, was also the architect behind which Philadelphia building?

This story has the answer.

Do you know the location this photo shows?

📮 If you think you do, email me back. You and your memories of visiting this spot might be featured in the newsletter.

Last week’s quiz featured a photo of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. Shout out to Janet P., Melissa G., Dominic C., and Bruce H. for getting that right.

Bruce told me he grew up on Route 73 in Maple Shade, so he knows the bridge well.

“There was always a long line of the south- or eastbound cars backed up at the Maple Shade Circle each Saturday morning in the summer, as Northeast Philadelphians headed Down the Shore for their week of respite.”

Last week, I asked whether there was a nonresidential building that you’d like to live in.

Dorothy S. told me she immediately knew her answer, because she’s been thinking about this one spot since she and her husband (native New Yorkers) moved to Philly in 2018.

She’d like to live in A Man Full of Trouble Tavern in Society Hill. As Dorothy noted, it’s been closed to the public for decades. The person who recently bought the bar and adjoining Colonial house plans to start welcoming people inside again.

“As I currently live nearby and have frequently waited for a bus on that corner, I’ve imagined what it would be like to live there and entertain family and friends at what The Inquirer described as ‘the last surviving dive bar in Philadelphia from the Revolutionary era.’”

And here’s a photo Dorothy shared of her husband, Bob, standing outside her imagined home.

That’s a fun answer. Cheers. And enjoy the rest of your week.

By submitting your written, visual, and/or audio contributions, you agree to The Inquirer’s Terms of Use, including the grant of rights in Section 10.…Read more by Michaelle Bond

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