With a $250 million investment in Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood, Post Brothers is betting that the area will continue to attract young professionals in search of less expensive rents with proximity to Center City.
Historically, University City has been home to students pursuing degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the University of the Sciences. Most leave the neighborhood after finishing their studies. But young professionals working at the area’s hospitals, biotech firms and other professional jobs are moving in.
“This place is going to be the next Palo Alto,” said Matt Pestronk, president of Post Brothers. “We have a lot of people moving in as a viable alternative to Center City, which is what I anticipated would start happening when we decided to invest here.”
Starting in June 2015, Post Brothers approached building owners individually to assemble what is now a 700-apartment portfolio in the area, spread over seven buildings. Many of the apartment buildings are pre-Depression era construction, built in the late 1920s.
That includes Garden Court Plaza at 4701 Pine Street. Originally developed with an ornate Art Nouveau lobby and a soaring skylight, the building’s grand ceiling was later obscured by a drop ceiling. That false ceiling is now being removed.
“We’re restoring it to its original condition,” said Pestronk. “This is a lobby of a grand scale, like a hotel lobby.”
The 140 apartments at Garden Court Plaza are also being renovated, as they are vacant due to routine turnover. Updates include modern kitchens, bathrooms, and in-unit washer/dryers. Building-wide improvements include central air conditioning and updated electric. Period finishes like molding are being restored, while walls that separate small rooms within the apartments are being removed for a more open layout.
Resident amenities, like retail space on the ground level and a large rooftop deck above the parking garage, are popular with residents. The grass-covered rooftop has a pond in the center and garden space, with great views of the Philadelphia skyline and the surrounding neighborhood.
Post Brothers is also working to attract resident-friendly businesses to University City. Around 45,000 square feet of retail space is spread across their portfolio. They are focused on bringing in more resident services.
“Retailers are beginning to recognize the discretionary spending power of the neighborhood,” Pestronk said. “Right now we’re seeing restaurants and quick service food establishments, like coffee bars, express interest, but we anticipate that retail and services are not far behind.”
Other University City buildings owned and operated by Post Brothers include 4311 Spruce Street; The Netherlands at 4300 Chestnut; Chester Plaza at Farragut and Chester; Chester Hall at 4205 Chester; and Hamilton Court at 3800 Chestnut.