By Lee Stabert
There are few neighborhoods in Philadelphia with as many secret treasures as Society Hill, whether you're wandering down St. Joseph's Way, peeking down blocks packed with centuries-old homes or wondering exactly what those angular I.M. Pei townhouses look like from the inside. The area is a perfect display of the city's colonial bones and the mid-century urge to purge and rethink. One of its secret treasures may be 3rd and Willings—an address most people know simply as: where the old Salvation Army building is.
This hulking stone beauty, with its arched entrance, plentiful windows and charming fourth-floor dormers, is a striking 14,000-square-foot property at an in-demand address. Yet it languishes on the market despite a website that carefully articulates the site's potential—including floor plans for eight luxury homes, clocking in at about 5,000 square feet per residence. (They also float the idea of a single-family dwelling with a pool and tennis court; talk about ambitious.) Homes in that neighborhood with at least 5,000 square feet are all on the market for well over $1 million. We like that math.
In a neighborhood market filled with townhomes and large apartment complexes, a historic building primed for conversion seems like it could offer something different to buyers. It's curious that this gem has yet to find any takers, but we'd venture it has something to do with the "as is" "no contingencies" issue. Who knows what fundamental and structural issues exist within this gray lady. At least it's had a price chop—down from $5 million originally to $3.95 million now.