Modern

is not a word associated with the 18th-century-vintage Betsy Ross House on Arch Street in Old City.

But across the street from the historic landmark, three luxury townhouses are about to bring this Old City block some 21st-century character.

Named after the colonial-era attraction, the Ross Luxury Townhomes - at 240 through 244 Arch St. - are scheduled to be completed in the spring.

"Architecturally, the townhomes are going to make a statement that Philadelphia is with the current times, that Philadelphia is an up-and-coming city," said Jason Morris, project coordinator for the Ross.

The six-story townhouses, which Morris said he plans to put on the market for about $2.5 million each, include such top-of-the-line features as elevators; second kitchens on the roof decks, with hot tubs, grass yards, and stone patios, and smart-home technology.

Two-car garages are another feature, for which Morris had to clear some hurdles with the now-defunct Old City Civic Association to get approved.

The project - one of several residential and commercial projects now in the works there - is an example of what's to come for the historic neighborhood.

"The area is diversifying," said Job Itzkowitz, Old City District's executive director. "We're working on letting people know that this is not the nightclub destination it once was. It's a vibrant, commercial corridor, wonderful residential neighborhood, and an office facility."

Itzkowitz named about a half-dozen construction projects within a few blocks of the Ross, including:

Two hundred units coming to 205 Race St.

Sixty units (plus a CVS and a food store) coming to the corner of Third and Market Streets to replace the former Shirt Corner.

A recent conversion at the Pottery Building at Second and Arch Streets, which currently houses 44 units.

He said he anticipates about 500 new units within the next two to three years.

As for the Ross townhouses - which, with their large windows and limestone facades, are unique in the area for their design and size - Itzkowitz thinks they are a positive thing for the neighborhood.

"[It's] important to have a diverse housing stock in any neighborhood," he said.

"The fact that the townhomes are going up is a great thing. To speak about their modern look, we like to describe the area as a contemporary neighborhood in a historic footprint."

Morris said the Ross is expected to be done by June 1.

He also is working on a project called the Baldwin at the corner of Second and Vine Streets, whose townhouses will be similar to those of the Ross, but on a smaller scale.

Morris, 34, a commercial Realtor, has been in real estate for about a decade. The Ross is his first major ground-up construction project, he said. He is working on the two projects with developers from New York, Bob Miller and Lee Kaplan. Morris said he expects construction of each Ross townhouse to cost more than $1 million. His business partners are funding the entire project and acquisitions all in cash, he said.

Morris hired Landmark Architects to design the Ross homes, which will be more than 5,000 square feet each, with three to four bedrooms and six bathrooms.

Among the pricier components are each townhouse's two kitchens, which Morris estimates will cost $100,000, and the elevators, about another $100,000.

Some other key features include two-story dining rooms overlooking the Betsy Ross House, master suites that take up the entire fourth floor, and two additional bedrooms on the third floor, each with their own en suite baths.

"I'm hoping to bring a little more artsy-ness to this artsy neighborhood," Morris said, "a little more design and creativity to it, and hopefully have something that will be appreciated when people are at the Betsy Ross House."

lmennen@philly.com @laurenmennen