The newest addition to Center City's skyline, Carl Dranoff's One Riverside condominium project, marked its grand opening Tuesday night.
Completion of the 22-story luxury tower, just steps from the Schuylkill along 25th Street in the Fitler Square neighborhood, is the end of a nearly five-year undertaking for one of Philadelphia's best-known developers. One Riverside becomes the first new high-rise condo project to be delivered in the city in nearly seven years, as many developers have turned their attention since the recession to rental apartments.
For Dranoff, the project was much more than five years in the making. The founder and chief executive of Dranoff Properties purchased the site nearly two decades ago, envisioning grand potential for the attractive spot along the river. But there were limitations: Though Dranoff could build without a change in zoning, there were still restrictions on the property's size within the triangular lot. And Dranoff needed to build a tower that would not block Center City views.
The result: Under the architectural guidance of Cecil Baker + Partners, One Riverside became a sleek, narrow glass structure that reflects the blue and green around it. From the balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows in its 68 units, the building offers panoramic views. On the ground, the project is just steps from the Schuylkill River Park and Trail, with an intimate back patio and outdoor kitchen.
"Our goal is to be the best in the market," Dranoff said in April.
Getting here was no easy feat. When Dranoff first pitched the project to the Center City Residents Association in 2013, it faced considerable pushback from neighbors who objected to its design and even its existence. The group voted to fight the project and geared up for a battle.
Eventually, however, Dranoff Properties and the residents association came to a consensus. Dranoff scaled back the design significantly, and the neighbors agreed the result was more elegant. Ground finally was broken in 2015.
Now, condo owners have begun moving into One Riverside, which features a full amenity floor equipped with saunas and a lap pool. About 80 percent of units have sold, with prices ranging from $715,000 for nearly 750 square feet to $7 million for the 4,200-square-foot, two-story penthouse, which remains unsold. (The $5 million penthouse is under agreement.) All units qualify for the 10-year tax abatement.
In recent years, developers have strayed from high-rise condo developments as lending standards have tightened as risk for such projects has increased. The last such effort was Tom Scannapieco's 1706 Rittenhouse in 2010. Scannapieco's latest project, 500 Walnut, is slated to come online later this year. The penthouse there is under agreement for $17.85 million.
At Tuesday night's event — which drew politicians, city planners, buyers, and even a performing tai chi artist — guests enjoyed drinks in front of the tower before Dranoff cut the ribbon, kicking off festivities.
"It's the culmination of my 31 years" in this neighborhood, Dranoff said, referring also to his other projects, Locust Point and Locust on the Park, across the street. "This site is the poster child of Philadelphia's transformation."