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New townhouses fit on a site near Fitler Square

There isn't much property available for redevelopment in and around Fitler Square. So when one of David Morgan's friends told him about a possibility on 24th Street between Spruce and Locust Streets, he was very interested.

There isn't much property available for redevelopment in and around Fitler Square. So when one of David Morgan's friends told him about a possibility on 24th Street between Spruce and Locust Streets, he was very interested.

On that site, a block from the Schuylkill's banks and Carl Dranoff's 1 Riverside high-rise condominiums, Morgan will begin construction in late spring of Fitler Nine: nine four-story, 25-foot-wide townhouses on three sides of a landscaped courtyard, with parking for 18 cars beneath the greenspace.

Seven townhouses will be 5,000 square feet each; the two end units will be 5,800 square feet each. Pre-sold homes will have geothermal heat from wells dug 500 feet below the surface of the lot during the excavation of the parking area.

Demolition was not set to begin until last week, construction is not scheduled to start until the end of April for a summer 2017 completion, and the townhouses aren't even on the market, but already five have been sold, with prices ranging from $2.65 million to $3.5 million, Morgan said.

Buyers have been friends or "friends of friends."

"I 'soft-pedaled' it with a few friends, and it went from there," Morgan said, adding that "Philadelphia is such a small town" when it comes to spreading the word.

Thus far, all the buyers live in Center City already, which is not unusual for the new-home market there. Dranoff, 500 Walnut developer Tom Scannapieco, and Toll Bros.'s City Division all have noted the same buyer pattern: either older homeowners shifting from single-family homes to condos, or younger buyers with growing families moving up.

Morgan is co-founder of Dalin Capital Management, which has headquarters in a building at North American and Berks Streets in Northern Liberties that the firm bought in May and reconfigured into office space.

"We typically look for local developers to partner with, and are involved in projects in Boston and Providence as well as Philadelphia," he said.

Part of the 24th Street site that was not on the market was the former Penn Lighting store (now on North Eighth Street), which old maps showed was originally a lumberyard and a stable, Morgan said.

The building closest to the street, about 100 years old, has the offices of QB3 Architects, which is designing Fitler Nine. Though it is not architecturally or historically significant, "we did try to save it," he said.

A couple months ago, Morgan sponsored an open house at the building for neighbors to "say hello and explain what we are doing."

"There was marginal concern" about still more change coming to a much altered landscape, he said.

The long space that comprises the Fitler Nine site separates the neighborhood into two parts, and frequent walks along Spruce and Locust on either side of the block reveal a large number of rehab projects underway.

"We just don't want to be perceived as the big bad developer," Morgan said, adding that the original project was for 11 to 12 townhouses, not nine.

Fitler Nine's facades pick up the look of the neighborhood, with contemporary references to the surrounding townhouses: stone exterior cladding; oversized windows; custom entry doors; and vertical zinc panels.

Each level is served by an elevator to connect the entertainment spaces, living quarters, two terraces, and a private roof deck.

The interior courtyard - green space is a must for today's buyers - necessitated the subterranean parking, with each townhouse getting two spaces.

The courtyard, designed by Philadelphia's Shiftspace, is made up of each home's landscaped garden and "floats above the underground parking," Morgan said.

The geothermal heating for the pre-sales has a seven-year payback for new construction, he said.

Unlike other developers, Morgan is not applying the word luxury to Fitler Nine:

"Sophisticated and exquisite are what I use."

aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472 @alheavens

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