WHY I LOVE PHILLY!

So I am finally diving into this phenomenon known as “blogging.” This is my inaugural attempt to rant, rave, complain, promote and expose Philadelphia – the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection — as I see it from my little blue eyes. I was inspired to write my first official blog post by a “Coming Soon” sign on a recently vacated retail space along Walnut Street, which reminded of the early days of Rittenhouse Square and how so much has changed in the past 20 years.  I have only lived in Rittenhouse Square for the past four years and a lot has changed. I mean, a lot.

 

I started to reminisce about the old days of Rittenhouse and the neighborhood staples that made this area famous: Striped Bass, Le Bec Fin, and Brasserie Perrier, to name a few. Striped Bass, originally opened 15 years ago by Neil Stein, the man who brought al fresco dining to Philadelphia when he opened Rouge overlooking Rittenhouse Square Park (Rouge is still the place to be seen – I have certainly been seen there…A LOT, according to my Visa bill), changed owners in 2009. Stephen Starr transformed the spot into a 1940’s inspired supper club style Steakhouse called Butcher and Singer. It’s delicious. Another Rittenhouse Square pioneer, George Perrier, has relinquished both his Center City locations: Le Bec Fin transferred to new management in 2011 after 30 years; and Brasserie Perrier closed in 2009. The historic façade came crumbling down shortly after Brasserie Perrier closed and has since been replaced with a sleek retail storefront that has remained vacant for years. Hello, it’s two doors down from the bustling Apple store!

 

 

And Apple is not the only big name on the block now: Swarovski crystal, Intermix and Barney’s Co-op also now call Walnut Street home. FANNNNNCY! The Knit Wit, Philadelphia’s own women’s boutique, can now be found just a few hundred feet north on the 1700 block of Chestnut street, right across the street from another Philadelphia staple, the gourmet grocer DiBruno Brothers. Personally, I know DiBrunos very well; let’s just say I’m in there at least once a day buying coffee, overpriced cliff bars, lunch, coffee, dinner, the occasional dessert and more coffee. Sometimes I don’t see my own kitchen for days.

 

And watch out H&M! Rumors are swirling that Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing brand that has taken NYC by storm, opening up a huge flagship store on 5th Avenue, is set to take over on the 1500 block of Walnut. Lush Cosmetics, the aromatic bath and body salts shop is making way for Uniqlo by moving just down the street to the old home of Brooklyn Industries. So, don’t worry, you will still be able to get smacked in the face by the unmistakable scent of Karma soap. Brooklyn Industries, remember that? Guess Philadelphia doesn’t work for everyone; that came and went faster than Cole Hamel’s four-seam fastball.

 

Club Monaco, a Ralph Lauren brand and one of my favorite places to grab some trendy new threads, is currently undergoing renovations and will emerge as an elegant women’s-only shop. But no need to be alarmed, gentlemen, plans are set for a men’s-only location to open soon after right in the neighborhood. Until then, though, you will have to join me in finding my favorite “Joshua” crew neck t-shirts online. Also relocating within the neighborhood, Govberg Jewelers opened up their own beautiful store on the 1500 block of Walnut Street, after years selling their gorgeous watches from Boyd’s Department. Long-time Walnut Street resident Brooks Brothers undergoing a massive renovation this summer; good old City Sports has already completed renovations on their Walnut Street space; Jack Wills, the fancy British retailer with locations in places such as Martha’s Vineyard, made Walnut Street home in late 2011; and a number of well-recognized brands such as Free People (a trendy member of the Urban Outfitters family), Barbour, North Face and Dr. Martens. And to check out the latest workout accessories, I can stop by Lululemon on Walnut Street on the way to The Sporting Club at The Bellevue, and for the ladies, Gap has opened up one of their first physical storefronts of Athleta, the snazzy retailer of women’s workout gear.

 

To finish this off, I must talk about food.  My favorite new restaurant is Vernick, located on 20th and Walnut, which is delightful – you have to go and try their many bruschettas. You won’t get enough. Other newcomers to that block are Saxby’s coffee and the just-opened Le Pain Dauphine, which offers a lovely BYOB brunch.

 

Philly just keeps getting better and better and I welcome it all.  I am so excited to see what comes next — who will set their sites on Philadelphia for their newest venture? (Wink wink, Marc Jacobs? Call me, Maybe!)  Seeing the amazing growth in this city is why I love being a part of the Philadelphia real estate market.  I grew up with this city; it helped shape who I am today, and I hoping to help shape what Philly is tomorrow. I am happy to run my business here – right on Rittenhouse Square — and look forward to the continued growth of this incredible city!

 

So, there you have it – my first official blog post. Here’s to many more!

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