Maleek Jackson and Raelia Lewis both work long hours, so finding a home that would combine luxury with serenity was a priority. Four years ago, the Piazza in Northern Liberties became the perfect haven for the couple, their Yorkie, Cooper, and cat, Sebastian.
“We are both professionals who work hard, so when we get a chance, we want to experience luxury,” said Jackson, owner of Maleek Jackson Fitness Boxing Gym in Northern Liberties. “We wanted a place that had a community and offered certain amenities.”
The location was a big draw for Lewis, who appreciates the security of a door person, the convenience of a concierge service, and the welcoming atmosphere of the surrounding neighborhood.
“It’s close to Center City, 30th Street Station for when I need to go to New York for work, and near my family in the Fairmount section where I grew up,” said Lewis, a model and owner of the online swimwear boutique Waves Swim. “I love the community vibe and the idea of being able to walk outside and find restaurants in my backyard.”
Their one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment features floor-to-ceiling windows that face the Delaware River. Depending on the time of the day, the sun’s reflection “adds to the mood and vibe of the space,” Jackson said. One of their favorite hangout spots is the balcony, where “we hear nature’s sounds.”
Lewis describes their decorating style as modern and simplistic, with white walls, black and white furniture, and marble fixtures and accessories. Green plants and artwork provide splashes of color. In one special photo, Muhammad Ali’s red boxing gloves take center stage. The picture was a housewarming gift from one of Jackson’s clients.
“Ali was one of the oldest influences in my life,” Jackson said. “My dream was to be a boxer.”
It was that inspiration that helped turn Jackson’s life around after spending a decade incarcerated between ages 16 and 26.
“When I was in prison, I made some goals for myself: to be a boxer or a boxing trainer. When I came out, I had a lot of discipline and focus and a passion for boxing,” said Jackson, who feels a strong sense of community in Northern Liberties in both his work and home life.
The pair met in 2016 when Jackson commented on one of Lewis’ Instagram posts. After her 2014 season on America’s Next Top Model, she went to Africa to model. At the time, one of her business associates was training with Jackson, something that interested her.
“When I got back to Philly, Maleek asked me out on a date,” Lewis said. “I accepted, and we have been joined hip to hip since then.”
Within the apartment complex, they take advantage of many amenities, including the concierge, pool, Jacuzzi, rooftop and gym. They were fortunate that the pool remained open through the pandemic. For Lewis, the outdoor spaces make perfect backdrops for photo shoots for her business.
The amenities are a main draw to the Piazza complex, said Josh Guelbart, asset manager for the developer, Post Brothers, in Northern Liberties. When Post Brothers bought the property in 2018, the top priorities were renovating the three buildings’ lobbies and halls and creating luxurious outdoor spaces.
“We have package rooms, playgrounds, a beautiful 5,000-square-foot gym and beautiful pools for residents only,” he said. “We had architects design the pool, called the Cove at the Piazza — an Italian ruins meets Mars, a futuristic design. The challenge was creating something that would look good from above for our residents, with a series of pavilions with gardens in between, which are beautiful for everyone to look at.”
The space includes three pools, an oversize hot tub, lounge facilities, fire pits, and outdoor kitchen pavilions with icemakers, sinks, refrigerators and grills. Before the pandemic, Lewis enjoyed hosting girls’ nights for her friends, when they would dance on her balcony or visit the Piazza courtyard.
Jackson enjoys walking his dog every morning and spending time in the complex’s gym. Together they enjoy visiting the retail shops below, especially Creep Records, a combination record store and smoke shop where they buy records to add to their collection.
“There are many conveniences that you wouldn’t get in a normal apartment that we love so much,” he said.
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