Old article with good info...
Posted on Sat, Jun. 05, 2004
Business news in brief from the Inquirer
Gated condo community planned on Columbus Blvd.
Israeli developer Artsi Wine's Isle of Capri Associates L.P. said it has signed a contract to start construction of its 9.6-acre gated condominium community, called Waterfront Square, on Columbus Boulevard just north of Spring Garden. Shoemaker Construction Co., of West Conshohocken, will build the first two of the five buildings planned, as well as the first phase of the parking garage. The two buildings are scheduled for occupancy in early 2006. Groundbreaking is planned for June 18.
Posted on Fri, Oct. 10, 2003
Five waterfront condo towers planned
An Israeli developer would offer 780 units for $221,000 and up.
By Henry J. Holcomb
Inquirer Staff Writer
Artsi Wine, an Israeli developer who has built big projects in South Africa, England and Poland, will unveil plans today for a $280 million, five-tower gated condominium community on the Delaware River.
The complex, called Waterfront Square, will be built on 9.6 acres at Piers 36-39, north of the foot of Spring Garden Street on Columbus Boulevard.
It will include 760-square-foot units priced from $221,000, and larger units, ranging up to 2,642-square-foot, $1.6 million penthouses.
Wine said the city would have permitted 55-story buildings on the site, but none would rise higher than 30 stories. "Sometimes you have to build less than you can to give a better quality of living," he said.
At 30 stories, the condominium project will still contain the highest building on the waterfront. The Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing is 22 stories.
The sales office, on Pier 5 at 7 N. Columbus Blvd., is scheduled to open Sunday. Prospective buyers can see full-scale models of the kitchens and bathrooms there, as well as photographs, taken from a helicopter, of the views from each condominium unit, Wine said.
This costly sales campaign is designed to sell half of the 129 units in the first tower in time for construction to begin in January. He said he hoped to have all five buildings built, and all 780 units sold, within five years.
Wine's firm is called Isle of Capri Associates L.P. Along with partner B.S.R. Engineering & Development, of Israel, it has a $2 billion portfolio. Local partners include developer Daniel Katz. The project is being designed by Wallace Roberts & Todd L.L.C., Philadelphia architects.
Wine began work on the project four years ago, comparing the tastes of people here with those in New York, Las Vegas and Florida, where he considered building projects.
"New Yorkers are extroverts. Philadelphians like privacy... and larger units," he said.
So he came up with his plan for a gated riverside community, with a three-acre garden framed by the river and five buildings, arranged to avoid casting shadows on one another.
Wine said his research found many people who "like to be next to the city. They don't want to drive three-quarters of an hour or more to work, but they want quiet," he said.
And they want parking. "There will be plenty of parking, for the residents and their dinner-party guests, under the garden," as well as docks for the residents' boats, Wine said.
The site, 900 Penn St., just off Columbus Boulevard, once held the Riverfront Restaurant & Dinner Theater, which closed in 1993 after 21 years.
There is a pent-up demand for upscale condos, said Joanne Davidow, a Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors broker, who handled the sale of 16 condo properties - each for more than $1 million - in the city's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood last year.
Five years ago, there were virtually no condos here priced above $1 million, she said. "Now there are a lot of buyers... at ages that find condos attractive - empty nesters and young people who work all the time and want convenience," she said.
After studying other cities, Wine said he was optimistic about his ability to make money in Philadelphia. "We came to see Philadelphia as a sleeping beauty, a very welcoming and nice city, a good place to invest," he said. "In other regions, the peaks and dips are tremendous. The peaks are exciting, but, in the dips, you can lose everything you have."
The first building will be at the southeast corner of the site, and the second will be across the garden at the northeast corner.
Wine talked with great passion of the challenge of overcoming Philadelphians' skepticism. He acknowledged that many saw this as just "another pie-in-the-sky project" along the river, where many grand plans were announced but never built.
But he insisted that his group, which is investing its own money, would make a profit, and have fun doing it.
"I enjoy being a pioneer" in creating something a city does not have, Wine said. "Nothing is more enjoyable than taking a piece of ground and creating something of beauty. It is like art."