Real estate construction, sales shrug off heat, convention

Despite temperatures stuck in the 90s and thousands of visitors in Philadelphia for the Democratic convention this week, the real estate industry is, so far, reporting business as usual.

The South Philadelphia neighborhoods surrounding the Wells Fargo Center, where the convention is being held, appear to be affected the most.

"We have postponed all neighborhood [house] showings until next week," said Barbara Capozzi, of Capozzi Real Estate & Insurance in the 3300 block of South 20th Street.

"We surely do not want outsiders [those looking for homes] to think it is normally this crazy," Capozzi said.

The situation in the neighborhoods is under control, however, she said, with the heavy police presence guaranteeing "a state of dead calm right now."

July and August are typically quiet months for real estate sales, although the housing boom in Center City and the adjacent neighborhoods has changed that this summer, real estate agents say.

The rental market, too, is active now, especially in Capozzi's sales market, "because of influx of new Birds [Eagles] and staff in August and early September," she said.

Increased traffic in and around Center City because of the convention has forced many agents to alter schedules.

"I have to schedule more time in between appointments and showings for traffic," said Chris Somers, broker/owner of Re/Max Access in Northern Liberties.

On Monday, "protesters closed Broad Street, making driving difficult," said John S. Duffy, an agent with Duffy Real Estate on the Main Line who sells in Center City, adding that a lot of clients seem to have left town this week, likely for vacation.

In the suburbs, "the heat is a factor" in a market behavior, said Nancy Pearl of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Cherry Hill. "The convention - no."

With the ban on truck traffic through the city on Interstate 95, Intech, which is building Carl Dranoff's One Riverside condo high-rise at 25th and Locust Streets, rerouted material delivery trucks around the interstate in advance of the shutdown to keep construction on schedule, said Maryanne Harris, director of sales and marketing for Dranoff Properties.

"Neither the heat nor the convention has hurt sales," since contracts for three units were signed in the last five days, she said.

Close by Independence Hall, which was the site of protests and other events this week, work on Tom Scannapieco's 500 Walnut condo high-rise also has not been affected, said Paula Celletti-Baron, vice president of sales and marketing.

The heat is a separate issue from the demonstrations, but she said the project manager told her that Intech, which is also building 500 Walnut, "is careful to make sure that the construction workers are kept hydrated on days like these."

"It is the very nature of the construction industry that the workers endure not only excessive heat but extreme cold," Celletti-Baron said.

At One Riverside, "workers have large industrial fans on the finished floors to minimize the effects of the heat," Harris said.

Compared with last September's visit of Pope Francis to the city, most agents consider the convention's effect negligible.

"The pope was a much bigger deal," said Jeff Block, of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach in Center City.

The visit "was all people seemed to talk about," he said, "with the city shut down and a lot of people left town. The convention sort of snuck up on us."

Block has five settlements this week and multiple appointments, which isn't bad for summer.

"For the pope, settlements were rescheduled, and no one set appointments," he said.

215-854-2472 @alheavens