Like haircuts and our waist size, things have a tendency to change over time. Here are some notable changes I have seen to the Center City condo market over the past 25 years-
1) The Disbursement of Wealth – In the mid 1980’s, if you had a million dollars to buy a condo, you landed on Rittenhouse Sq. And probably in 1820 or 1830 Rittenhouse. Today- your imagination and money can take you to far away exotic places like- Old City, Bella Vista, and the Loft District. Large high-end condos have spread around town to almost all neighborhoods.
2) The introduction of “High End Low-Rise/Brownstone” styled condos- The defeat of many a high-end brownstones over the years was the lack of an elevator. Anyone looking to buy high end in a brownstone probably isn’t going to be fond of stairs. From 1030-2 Spruce (Knightsbridge Condos) to the lovely 1904 Spruce and 2138 Lombard, the high-end market is finding its way into groovy Brownstone and soft loft conversions- with elevators.
3) No trend in Co-op growth- No new ones since before the mid-1980’s. They fly well in NYC never really caught on here in town in terms of their growth in numbers. 1901 Walnut is the premier co-op building in town…a lovely pre-war on the north side of the square. Very handsome building…and I fail to see how the fact that it is a co-op has diminished its value.
4) Lower Than Expected Conversion Projects- Yes…we saw the Grande, The Ellington, The Phoenix and a smattering of other re-used office buildings. But with the inventory and locational advantages some of these older places have- I am surprised we haven’t seen more conversions. I would look for more conversion projects in the next wave of building.
5) Zeroing in on Condos Near Jefferson and U of Penn- The growth of small and large size condominium buildings around Jefferson Medical for example has proven to be one of the easiest, sure-fire ways for many condos to find buyers. Like shootin’ fish in a barrel. Ditto for U of Penn area. Builders are filling a market need, and there are some smart buys in both areas. Huge growth segment.