Owner and others get peek at 10 Rittenhouse Square high-rise

A guest (in window at far right) at yesterday's opening takes in the view at 10 Rittenhouse Square. (Tom Gralish / Staff)

Anne Scardino waited slightly more than three years for the chance to ooh and aah at the building she'll call home in mid-January.

That chance came yesterday, as she and scores of others, mostly dignitaries and developers, got the grand tour of 10 Rittenhouse Square, the long-delayed 33-story, 135-unit condo high-rise at 18th and Walnut Streets.

Scardino, founder and owner of the consulting firm Belle Maison Design, signed a sales agreement for her 12th-floor condo in October 2006.

The wait continued as developer ARCWheeler waded through court battles over the fate of the four three-story buildings at the site and other legal issues, which added $100 million to the project's $300 million final cost.

"It was worth it," she said, admiring the Italian marble floors and the Venetian-plaster finish of the walls as she walked from the Rittenhouse Club entrance on the square to the elevators at the building's South 18th Street side.

Construction of the high-rise, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, was to have started in April 2005 and wrapped up by summer 2007, "but appeals set us back two years," said managing principal Hal Wheeler.

"I would have preferred that economy," Wheeler said, "but our buyers stuck with us. In a bad economy, good things can happen, and this building is an example of it."

Robert Ambrosi, managing principal at ARCWheeler, said there were sales accords on 50 percent of the units, with the "luxury" studios and one-bedrooms on floors one through 10 - starting at $600,000 - selling well.

The "estates" on floors 11 to 25, two- and three-bedrooms ranging from $795,000 to $4.5 million, are selling more slowly "because of [buyers'] difficulties selling houses in the suburbs," he said. Buyers of penthouse floors 26 to 33 - prices on request - "don't need to sell a home."

For Ambrosi, 10 Rittenhouse is all about details. "We were trying to create the ambience of a pre-World War II Park Avenue building in Philadelphia," he said.

Robert and Ellen Seltzer, also among the earliest buyers, hope to have their customized three-bedroom 16th-floor unit ready by spring.

"This is exactly what we wanted," said Robert Seltzer, an insurance executive.

Their current home, in the 1900 block of Delancey Street, is listed for about $2 million.

"I asked Mayor Nutter if he could help us sell it," Ellen Seltzer said. (The mayor helped at the ribbon-cutting.) "He said he would if he could."


Contact real estate writer Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or aheavens@phillynews.com.