It was an auspicious beginning for the luxury condo building 10 Rittenhouse at 130 S. 18th St. Philadelphia-based superstar architect Robert A.M. Stern preserved and restored the three historic buildings that occupied the Walnut Street frontage and built a five-story building meant to reference early 20th-century Philadelphia, Park Avenue and Chicago's Gold Coast. The amenities were staggeringly over-the-top, including a "white glove concierge" (because Rittenhouse Square is Jonesboro, Georgia, basically); a chauffeured Mercedes town car; a saline pool (chlorine is so plebian); and a guest suite for visiting friends, who will envy the hell out of your Hansgrohe satin nickel fixtures, Poggenpohl European cabinetry, Miele appliances, and your marble, granite and diamond-encrusted this-and-thats. And needless to say, for those who can afford it, Rittenhouse Square is the most desirable luxury location in the city—on the park, close to the Walnut Street retail corridor, and not too far from Rachael's Nosheri and Little Pete's. What more could you want?
Apparently, anything but. The building debuted two years late at a cost of $300 million. The building's 135 condominiums—from $600,000 to $15 million—just couldn't sell, particularly the units under $1 million. After a May 2011 foreclosure, developer Carl Dranoff was appointed receiver of the property, and he was cast as its heroic rescuer. He did what he could, including changing the pricing structure (higher floors = higher prices, duh), but nothing worked. He couldn't sell even one unit.
Yesterday, Istar Financial, which was the lender on the project to begin with, bought 129 units back at sheriff's sale. In a month, Istar takes control of those empty units, which means that—as long as you're not looking for a surefire long-term investment—now is the time to buy at 10 Rittenhouse. Chances are good Istar will sell the units at far less than originally valued, so you may, in fact, suddenly be the kind of person who can afford to be ushered into a well-engineered German automobile by an obsequious gentleman with white gloves. Maybe even cultivate an Alfred-Batman relationship.
Some of your options:
Here's the saline pool:
The Robert A.M. Stern lobby:
Your new bathroom: