Knowing Philadelphia, and adding 50 or so buildings to the region, has made developer Carl Dranoff a pro at shifting gears as financial markets and demographics demand. The CEO of Dranoff Properties helped spur development on the city’s important Broad Street artery and went on to develop the 777 South Broad rental nearby, making the area a 24/7 neighborhood, Dranoff says. When another prime site became available, he made a $2.5 million winning bid, and Southstar Lofts debuted April 30.
Located at the corner of highly visible Broad and South streets, Southstar is a high-end rental because 777 was so successful, Dranoff says. To fit its site, architect Jerry Roller, principal at JKR Partners in Philadelphia, made it seven stories and clad the building in a precast limestone–looking material on Broad, which includes taller buildings and cultural venues, but used four stories and faced them in brick on South, which features lower-rise row houses, vintage stores, and an overall bohemian flavor.
Tenants will pay extra for green when all else is comparable, says Dranoff, who considers it a key ingredient. Here, features that gave the building its LEED Silver certification garner a 5 to 10 percent up charge, he says. Among them: the transit-friendly site’s underground garage with pared-down parking; recyclable materials, such as strand bamboo flooring; energy-efficient appliances; a reflective roof; and a stormwater-management system. Dranoff even initiated a bike-sharing program.
The lines have blurred between what condo buyers and luxury renters expect, and this building is no exception. The studios and one- and two-bedrooms are large and boast big windows, 10-foot ceilings, glass-block kitchen backsplashes, and closet systems, rarely found among rentals. To make Southstar work economically, rents had to cover costs—$1,500 to $1,600 for a studio; $1,700 to $2,100 for a one-bedroom unit; and $2,500 to $3,200 for a two-bedroom.
Sharing amenities between properties is de rigueur now. Because Southstar is a rental and the economics didn’t permit a pool or roof deck, tenants can use those at other Dranoff properties. But the sleek loft property does include a large, windowed fitness center; big clubroom with fireplace, TV, catering kitchen, and computer stations; and package room with refrigerated storage. The lobby even offers two concierges: a high-tech “Moncierge” and an old-fashioned human.