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Rodin Square project unveiled as latest high-end Center City dwellings, retail

The wraps have been taken off Rodin Square, the latest Center City apartment/retail building aimed at the increasingly well-heeled residents attracted to downtown's dense, urban vibe.

The 293-unit structure, part of a city-block-encompassing mixed-use project in the Art Museum area that also includes a flagship-sized Whole Foods supermarket, was officially unveiled in a Friday ceremony.

It's the first Center City project in more than a decade-and-a-half for developer Neal Rodin, a Philadelphia-area native whose International Financial Co. LLC had more recently shifted its focus to include work as far away as Western Europe.

Partnering on the project was Washington-based Dalian Development, after which its residential component — Dalian on the Park — is named.

"Development has started happening here, and people are moving here to eat, rent, shop," Rodin said in an phone interview after Friday's event. "When the restaurants are open and they're successful and busy, you know there's population in the city."

Other high-end Center City apartment projects to recently begin leasing include Washington-based MRP Realty's 217-unit Griffin at Broad and Chestnut Streets, a former dorm building for the Art Institute of Philadelphia, and the 321-unit 1919 Market project by LCOR and Brandywine Realty Trust.

Not far from the $170 million Rodin Square project, Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises is preparing for move-ins before the end of the year at a 270-unit addition to its Museum Towers development near 18th and Spring Garden Streets. Denver's Aimco, meanwhile, continues to renovate the mid-century Park Towne Place Apartment Homes at 2200 Benjamin Franklin Parkway to capture higher rents.

Rodin said the museums and parks in the neighborhood, near the border between Fairmount and Logan Square, are an obvious draw. One-bedroom apartments at Dalian on the Park range from $1,900 to $3,000, with two-bedroom units ranging from $3,000 to $7,200.

"I don't know any other city where you have a 10- to 15-minute walk into the city [center] and at the same time you have a great park-like setting," he said.

Rodin last made his mark on Center City as a developer with the conversion projects resulting in the Club Quarters and Sofitel hotels near Rittenhouse Square in the run-up to the 2000 Republican National Convention.

His local projects since then have included the Target-anchored development on City Avenue near the Schuylkill Expressway and a shopping center with a Wawa and Applebees on Aramingo Avenue in Fishtown.

A closer template for the newly opened Rodin Square, though, was his experience developing a residential, retail and office project on Paris' Rue de Rivoli that includes a flagship Forever 21 store, he said.

"You're always learning," he said. "There are things you learn on the other side of the pond and bring here, and vice-versa."