A year after the groundbreaking for One Riverside, workers Monday poured concrete for the 22nd and final floor of the building hugging the Schuylkill at 25th and Locust Streets.

Carl Dranoff, developer of the city's first luxury condominium high-rise to break ground since the housing bubble burst in third-quarter 2007, will be celebrating with an eighth-floor "topping off" party Wednesday evening.

The invitation depicts Dranoff superimposed on Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, a painting that art historians say altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-Impressionism.

Standing on the 18th floor Monday, as the Schuylkill curved its way past the western edge of Center City to the Art Museum below, Dranoff said that his projects thus far "have altered history, and perhaps have made some," but that One Riverside was "the most thrilling."

"Cecil Baker's vision is now evident" even with the $112 million building not yet complete, Dranoff said, noting its "sweeping views" and "water and green" surroundings - the river as well as parkland and the trail that starts there and ends in Valley Forge.

The building was designed tall and thin, with the smallest footprint to accommodate the most open space - based, architect Baker said, on a Dranoff sketch on a napkin, with a smaller-than-average floor plate that allows flexible design options such as combining smaller units into larger ones without having to relocate the plumbing mechanicals.

With a March 2017 move-in date for lower-floor buyers and August 2017 for upper-floor owners, there is much more construction to go at One Riverside. Yet about 40 of the 68 units are spoken for, with $75 million in agreements of sale that will be closed as the condos are occupied.

Prices are averaging about $1,000 a square foot and range from $715,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit to $6.5 million for a duplex penthouse.

The $1,000-per-square-foot average price was what space at 10 Rittenhouse was going for five years ago, after lender iStar Financial brought in Dranoff to market the building.

"We have tried to retain inventory with a deliberate sales pace," Dranoff said of One Riverside. "That means that we have some inventory of practically everything," so buyers won't be turned away.

"A lot of the buyers bought two units and combined them," Dranoff said, adding that Baker's floor plans provided a "Rubik's Cube [that] allowed buyers to have what they want."

That has resulted in a "boutique" building, with fewer than the 88 units still advertised on a banner hanging across from the sales office at Dranoff Properties' Locust on the Park across 25th Street.

Until Sept. 4, 2014, One Riverside was to have been 147 luxury rental apartments, but based on his experience at 10 Rittenhouse, where buyers wanted new and larger condo units, Dranoff shifted to a for-sale product.

The only other condo high-rise now under construction is the 26-story 500 Walnut, at Fifth and Walnut Streets. Tom Scannapieco, developer of 1706 Rittenhouse, is building that $150 million, 40-unit "ultra-luxury" tower, also set for completion in 2017.

Two-thirds of the buyers for condos under agreement at One Riverside are from the suburbs, the rest from other parts of the city, said Marianne Harris, Dranoff's director of sales and marketing.

Thirty percent are in medicine, seven in finance, four are lawyers, three are academics, and the rest are entrepreneurs, managers, designers, and real estate agents. Eighty-four percent are age 50 to 69, she said.

Dranoff's only other for-sale project, Symphony House, was "more complicated because of the theater" (the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on the ground floor), the developer said. About $16 million of the cost there was theater-related, he noted, so the comparable residential portion (163 units) cost $110 million vs. $112 million for One Riverside.

"Quick math shows that One Riverside is roughly more than twice as expensive on a per square-foot basis," he said. "The cost of construction has gone up quite a bit since the last big wave of construction in the mid-2000s," which produced 2,500 condo units citywide.

Looking at the construction cranes breaking the University City skyline across the Schuylkill, Dranoff observed that the current era of building was the result of unprecedented "public-private collaboration."

"The city, as a whole, is in much better shape today," he said.


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