Twelve stories above City Avenue, Michael Pestronk is standing in a penthouse apartment, looking out over the Schuylkill toward Manayunk.
The building, one of four in the 1,000-unit Presidential City apartment complex, is the Washington, which has undergone a top-to-bottom renovation by Pestronk and his brother, Matthew, known corporately as Post Bros.
The second building, the Madison, is getting closer to completion, Michael Pestronk said, and the Adams and the Jefferson will follow.
Presidential City, at 3900 City Ave., was built between 1951 and 1953 by John McShain, a Philadelphia-born contractor known as the "Man Who Built Washington" (the nation's capital, that is) because of the number of buildings there with which he was involved.
Initially, Pestronk said, there was a master plan for 48 buildings at the site of the former Bala Cynwyd Golf Course, but only four were built. McShain, who bought the Barclay on Rittenhouse Square - and lived there as well as in Kenmare, County Killarney, Ireland - sold the rest of the property to other developers.
In December 2012, when Post Bros. bought the complex for a reported $51 million, the buildings "had been for sale for a long time," Pestronk said, although for part of the time Presidential City "was under contract to a few others."
The buildings "were at the end of their usefulness," and others were proposing "lipstick renovation" rather than $200 million worth of gutting and retrofitting to suit the 2015 rental market, he said.
"Everything was too dated," Pestronk said.
The brothers saw a demand for "adult-size apartments" that they could meet with a complete remake of Presidential City. "Apartment homes" is what the multifamily industry calls them.
The four buildings have an abundance of penthouses - 48 each, eight per floor on the top six floors, with breathtaking views.
Two-thirds of the penthouses in the Washington are already rented, Pestronk said.
"A lot of the rentals are targeted to millennials, but we've always gotten calls for three bedrooms," he said, adding that until Presidential City only one other Post Bros. building had them.
At $3,805 a month, a three-bedroom penthouse at the Washington "is the most expensive rental outside of Center City," Pestronk said.
Work on the project, starting with the Washington, began last spring, after Post Bros. relocated tenants.
"We removed the asbestos and demolished the interiors, taking the building down to the concrete shell," Pestronk said. "We leveled the floors and rebuilt the outside walls with new insulations."
Windows were replaced with energy-efficient ones - Post Bros. is into green building. In the top-level penthouses, floor-to-ceiling windows were installed for better views.
"Each tower will be completely different," with the Madison akin to a classic high-end hotel like the Park Hyatt in New York, Pestronk said.
The pool club at Presidential City was the place to be in the 1960s and 1970s, he said, and was open to outsiders. It, too, became dated.
Post Bros. aims to make it into a resort-like facility called Sora, which in Japanese means sky. It will have a spa and fitness building with a steam room, an organic-juice bar, dry saunas, treatment rooms, and tanning beds, Pestronk says.
Outdoors, there will be an Olympic-size lap pool, lounge and play pools, hot tubs, bocce and sport courts, yoga lawns, and two outdoor kitchens with a total of eight grills.
"There will be individual cabana beds along the sides with enough room between them to ensure privacy," Pestronk said. "I visited some very nice resorts for ideas on style elements and pools, and did research on what hotels and condo buildings do."
"It is trial and error," he said, noting that at Post Bros.'s 600-unit Rittenhouse Hill in East Falls, the two-acre recreational facilities "are packed all the time."
"We need more space," Pestronk said.