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Narberth Place Takes Church Renovations Up a Notch

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Photos: James Jennings, Rederings: Main Line reBUILD


An impressive adaptive re-use project is going forward full-steam on the Main Line on Price Avenue in Narberth. Narberth Place is in the process of renovating a former Methodist church and its accompanying clergy house as well as the construction a brand new, multi-unit house. In all, the property is comprised of 12 luxury units — including six in the church, three in Barrie House and another three in Vulclain Manor. Churches present an interesting question for developers looking for the best use of the physical building. Oftentimes, they're huge and on even larger parcels of land at key intersections. Recently, we've seen a wave of creative adaptive re-use project that have converted beautiful stone places of worship into apartments or condos, mostly preserving their unrivaled character and grandeur. Looking to capitalize on Narberth's popularity and the rising market of seniors looking to downsize without the sacrifice, Scott Brehman of Main Line reBuild also wants to focus on preserving these important community buildings. The main goal from the beginning was to "protect and preserve" the church structure and adjacent house. "Let's save and re-purpose these structures," Brehman said. "There's a market for these things. Let's save them." The church will be called Elm Hall and feature six units ranging in size from 1,900 square feet all the way up to 3,408 square feet. Main Line reBUILD will look to highlight the architectural assets that currently exist at the church. As such, the largest unit — which comes in at $1,1M — will have the opportunity to have the main altar, and it's stunning stained-glass window as it's centerpiece. Units along the left side of the church will have what Brehman called "city gardens." He also mentioned that they'll be keeping the stained glass but removing some of the tiles in order to make the windows clear and usable. What about parking? 12 parking spots (with storage units) will be housed, wait for it, in the basement of the church. They'll be making a garage entrance on the Essex Avenue side of the building that enters into a below-grade, and insanely enormous, parking area with storage units. Woah. Brehman mentioned that he's had discussions with a possible buyer to combine upper and lower units into one mega-condo. Look for Elm Hall to be completed in Spring of 2015.

Built in 1881, the former clergy house known as Barrie House is almost equally impressive as Elm Hall in its own way. Three units range from just 2,045 to 2,754 square feet and are divided by floors. It's simply dripping with historical design details. There are seven (!) total fireplaces inside this thing — four of which are in the second-floor unit. From it's patterned brick chimney to it's stone porch and up to it's Juliet balcony, this building is gorgeous. Brehman said that they are on schedule to be completed by October.

Lastly, Vulclain Manor is the newly constructed three-unit house that looks to blend contemporary designs with the historic flair of the rest of the property and the surrounding area. "Narberth is famous for its beautiful porches," noted Brehman. The porches give each unit a distinctive look and Brehman said they had hoped to create a home that looked like it was always in the neighborhood, with the unit on the right working as an "addition" to the homestead. Original plans called for these three units to be housed in the basement of Elm Hall. After talks with the community, they nixed those ideas and instead offered to use the basement as parking and build a three-unit house. Vulclain Manor sold out in February and looks to be completed in November.
· Prayers Answered? Sanctuary Lofts are Available in G-Ho [Curbed Philly]
· Narberth Place Main Line reBUILD [Official]