Daily Archives: December 5, 2009

Issues With Revitalizing the Richmond Real Estate Market

There is a lot of debate going on at the moment about the best way to revitalize the areas surrounding Downtown Richmond. The major gripe people have seems to be that certain areas, such as portions of Broad, Hull, and Marshall Streets, are cut off from the rest of the city and are marred by unsightly scenery such as vacant lots, chain link fences, overhead utility lines, damaged sidewalks, and so on.

If you search the internet or attend a community workshop, such as the one that will be held on Thursday September 27 2007 at The Renaissance Conference Center, you will be presented with plans for eradicating these eyesores that include: new sidewalks with no cracks, buried utility lines, street trees, special lighting, bold crosswalks, new buildings with large windows, stoops, and awnings, and on-street parking.

During the presentation you will see dismal photos of vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and empty streets – the current state of the areas in question. You will then see doctored photos that show the same scenes, “revitalized”. The lots and abandoned buildings have been replaced with new, pretty buildings with pretty storefronts. The power lines and swinging traffic lights are gone, and the streets below them are no longer empty. They are populated by leafy trees and meandering shoppers. It looks like a very nice little world.

My problem is that even though the world of the doctored photos looks nice, it also looks boring, and the same as a million other worlds. There are countless cities in America with the same storefronts, the same special lighting, the same bold crosswalks, and the same people. These days, an unused lot is much more of a rarity than a Pottery Barn or café.

I’ll tell you what I see when I look at the undoctored photos. I see a landscape that is beautiful, and lonely, and haunting. Being in a city where you can see the horizon is an amazing and rare thing. Being in a city where a lot of any type – vacant, parking, etc – isn’t immediately replaced by a high rise condo featuring a mix of high end retail space and luxury loft-style apartments is refreshing. I suppose it is futile to argue against any plan that involves the term “revitalization”. I can only hope that any changes are tasteful and that they do not homogenize the neighborhood to an unbearable degree.

Jen works for Inside Richmond Realty a small company in Virginia. They help clients interested in the Richmond Real Estate Market. If you are interested in purchasing in Richmond you can start off your search on their website looking for homes in the Richmond MLS.

Window Curtains: Still the Classic Solution for your Home Sublime

Window curtains go by many names: drapes, drapery & drapery panels. There’s custom drapes, made-to-order as well as the stock sizes which are partially a do-it-yourself solution. And, just about every store under the sun sells drapes. I think that I once saw them for sale at a gas station in Phoenix once – just kidding. The point is though that window curtains are pretty ubiquitous and vary widely in quality, looks and, of course, price.

I remember the curtains in my Grandmother’s house. They were polyester and had that dated look from the 1970’s. They were the kind of drapes that would, unfortunately, probably last forever with care. They were also a considerable investment back then. My Grandma’s were high-quality drapes with the nice lining and everything and they covered a huge window in the rear of her home. But, I digress. You may have a similar memory but don’t let that deter you from giving them a fresh look for your interior decorating plans.

Drapes come in a wide variety of colors and materials, such as silk, cotton, linen, polyester blends, faux suede and more. Most of the upscale drapes come with a basic lining but you can opt for an interliner or blackout liners. An interliner is essentially a soft brushed flannel fabric that provides extra body and added protection from sun fading and is highly recommended for silk fabrics. For bedrooms, I would highly recommend choosing the blackout liner option.

Window curtains come in a variety of styles, including pinch pleat, grommet style, rod pocket, French pleats and more. Which style you choose is completely up to your tastes. Some of these styles have a more classic look and some have a fancier, upscale look. So just make sure if cohesive with the basic décor of your room.

The cost of window curtains varies widely. You can purchase the cheap, one-size-fits-all drapes at Target or stores of a similar ilk which, in my opinion, are drapes best suited for kid’s rooms. Or, you can purchase more upscale drapes from Crate and Barrel and the Pottery Barn. A third option is to purchase window curtains online. There are a plethora of good e-commerce websites selling mostly custom drapery panels. This is a good solution from a cost perspective as they are generally less expensive then retail establishments.

If you are planning to decorate a living room, family room, etc. and are considering window curtains, I would recommend budgeting a similar amount of money as you would spend on good quality window blinds or shades. The extra cost really shows in the finished look. Another consideration is to use window curtains in addition to window blinds and shades for a layered look. This can add a richness and warmth that is hard to beat. Window curtains look especially great with plantation shutters, wood blinds or faux wood blinds – basically blinds made from, or at least looking like, wood materials. They don’t compliment mini blinds, vertical blinds, or fabric shades quite as well but there are exceptions to that as well.

To recap, the right window curtains can really make a nice addition to almost any room and should not be overlooked when considering window treatments or coverings. ? David Brooks.

A Condominium Conversion Idea - Center City Philadelphia's Curtis Center

We all have a passion for something in life; something that keeps our imaginations going. Some people dream of things like music or philosophy while for others it may be medicine or martial arts. I happen to dream of, and have dreamt of for most of my life, potential Philadelphia real estate condominium conversion projects. I wonder which of the lovely historic buildings might turn over the highest dollar per quare foot in resale value if converted into a condominium here in Center City Philadelphia.

And here is my conclusion: The Curtis Center, particularly the southernmost 25% of the beautiful Center City building sitting on the northwest corner of 6th and Walnut Streets.

Take a look at the shear window space. Consider that if this portion of the Curtis Center was converted into high end luxury condominiums, the sales pitch:

*All units with over sized windows

*All Living rooms would have a southern exposure

*Almost all bedrooms would have a southern exposure

*All units would overlook beautiful Washington Square Park

*All units could have indoor garage parking

*All penthouse units could have stunning southern exposure views of the square

*Roughly 10% of the units also face Independence Hall Park

*One of the most stunning historical buildings in Center City Philadelphia

*Fabulous Location!!

In addition, I would consider making the units fairly large. I would sell no unit for less than $1,000,000, and range up to say $7,000,000. Every unit would have at least 2 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. They could possibly have random width pine wood flooring throughout and definitely stainless steel high-end appliances by Viking, Bosch, Wolf, Sub-Zero, and Miele. The kitchens and bathrooms would also have subway tile and granite counters. The ability to provide the individual Penthouse units with luxurious private garden space could be invaluable with Pottery Barn Living Room Furniture now made for outdoors.

A walkout to a private deck and large shelved walkin closets would be a nice touch to the master bedroom. A closet organization system, similar to California Closets would be an example of an upgrade that I would offer as a standard ingredient in each unit. Philadelphia Condos are notoriously cheap on their closet space (as a whole), and underestimating the value of a large, well-organized set of closets is something builders of Center City Philadelphia Lofts and Condos have been doing for years.

Also I would make the building as “green” as possible. I am sure that this magnificent building would provide fabulous ceiling height in each unit for cathedral ceilings with ceiling fans. I would add high-efficiency heating and cooling systems as well as panels that would double as sunshades and solar power generators. There would be a lot of incoming natural light from the large windows that would also accent the intricate moldings throughout each loft. I would cut the curb on the north side of Walnut Street, at the entrance to this building to allow for about a half dozen car “loading zone” parking with valet service. The owners would even have the convenience of a full-time on-site 24-hour concierge…and of course this would be a pet-friendly Philadelphia Condominium.

I have started to play the Pennsylvania lotto lately. Should I win say $250,000,000 or more, you can be sure that the southernmost 25% of the Curtis Center will be the latest and greatest Philadelphia condominium conversion project to hit the market!

Mark began selling in Philadelphia in 1989 and has been in love with it ever since. He still resides in a low rise, four unit condominium building in Old City and impresses others of his vast knowledge of what’s trendy and knows which finishes buyers look for when selecting a home.

Feel free to contact him for more information at 215-521-1523 or Mark@CenterCity.com