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In Your Face, Center City: Philadelphia Deserves Better!

I was asked the following by a close friend who is struggling with where he wants to live in Philadelphia.

"Stephanie, if you could live anywhere in Philly no matter what the cost, where would you live?"

I said, without a In Your Face Center City !moment of hesitation, "I'd live right where I am, here in Northern Liberties". If Northern Liberties did not exist I would live in any of the Fringe Neighborhoods such as: Art Museum, Graduate Hospital, Queen Village, Passyunk Square, Fishtown, etc..

"Do you want to know where I would not live? Center City," I say, "In your face, Center City!"

You can keep the pretense and high prices of Rittenhouse Square and the drone-like Business District, and the grit of Center City East.  I am happy right where I am, in the Fringe of Center City and I think a lot more people are beginning to agree with me based on recent real estate sales activity.

Here is why:

On Friday, I cut out of the office a little early to pick up a hard copy book at Barnes and Noble at 18th and Walnut. I grab a cab very easily on North 2nd Street in Northern Liberties. There was no way I would have even considered driving into Center City since I would never have found parking. The cab ride was a nightmare - smelly, hot and slow. I jumped out of the cab five blocks early since I was stuck in a gridlock traffic jam at JFK Boulevard. I would have been better off hoofing it the whole way having the miserable cab ride cost me $15 with a tip.  Ouch!  Cabs are more affordable in New York City!

Anyway, as I made my way to my destination I was hit in my face with the typical Center City experience: dumpster diving rats in the alleyway in broad daylight, oily grimy puddles that I had to hop over at every corner, and the stench of urine and funk at the subway vents was inescapable.  Honkeytonk businesses buying gold and selling a mixed bag of outdated costume jewelry, human hair, and ugly knock-off handbags is not my idea of a Center City shopping experience.  The puke in the corners of stairwells and drunk vagrants seemingly passed out cold on every block was stomach-turning.  When I approached Rittenhouse Square, I was greeted by a man making kissing noises at me as he leaned against the wall at Anthropologie on 18th and Walnut. In front of Barnes and Noble, I was accosted by some guy with crazy eyes and a clipboard aggressively pressing me to discuss the imminent Alien Invasion, Rapture, or Prophetic Catastrophe approaching. Yikes! I just wanted to buy a frigging book for crying out loud! The Square was filled with a mix of vagrants with all of their belongings in plastic bags stashed under the public benches, pooping primped pups and their dog walkers, and utterly oblivious youth obviously not working who perhaps are not yet hardened by the In Your Face hypocrisy of this renowned park located in the highest priced neighborhood in Philadelphia.

Was I shocked to hear a few few hours later that a violent flash mob converged on Walnut and Juniper on Friday night ? No, sadly, I was not. I was angry, though. I expect more from Center City than what it offers. I deserve better. Philadelphians deserve better!!!!!!!! Those folks who are brainwashed into thinking that the Center City area is a "better neigborhood" than those in the Fringe Neighborhoods, they have yet to convince me. It is not that the Fringe Neighborhoods are free of the byproduct of an urban environment, it is that the sheer volume of vileness is measurably less. And do you know what else is less in the Fringe? The cost of properties (you get so much more for your money in any of the fringe neighborhoods), the cost of really great fine dining and entertainment, less trash, less filth, less of a hangout for the homeless, and the closest thing we get to a Flash Mob in my neighborhood is the annual N 2nd Street Festival.

For a great lifestyle, take a second look at the Fringe Neighborhoods because you deserve better.

And my lesson learned for my most recent visit to Center City is that from now on, I am ordering all my books online through!



Tip Jar: Read a Good Book and Pass it On!

This "tip" is an oxymoron coming from me. While Chris loves, not so much!  I like to look at pretty pictures, fashion magazines, and art books. I am not a fan of mystery, romance, or biographies. If I read, I only like the facts! Now that you know where I stand on reading, you can see why my tip this week is a bit contradictory to my nature.

Read A Good Book, and Pass it On.

The tip was inspired by my visit to Hush Salon today.  Apparently my occasional weekend afternoons in the sun at Arrow Swim Club did a number on my delicate locks so Ruth and Nick fixed me up good! (Thanks guys!). While I was in "the chair" getting my foils (torturous for me since I really do not like sitting still), Ruth mentioned a book she'd like to read and suggested I read it, too. A woman named Gabrielle Bernstein was interviewed in Elle Magazine. Bernstein is the author of the best-selling  Add More -Ing to Your Life. Her second book, Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles comes out next month and is already creating buzz.

So, I am going to take Ruth's advice and get Gabrielle's first book and give it to Ruth when I am done with it. What a novel idea (pun intended).

What book have you read or plan on reading this summer?
Who will you pass it on to?


Whatever Happens at HUSH Salon Stays at HUSH Salon


Blatstein Broadens His Horizons

The new owner of 400 N. Broad Street, home to Philadelphia Media Network (, Daily News, the Inquirer)?  The newsiest address in town? Well, according to

Mr. Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments.

The price for the 18-story building has not been disclosed, but we're already thinking of what Blatstein's dreaming up for the place.

Offices? Another luxury condo? A boutique hotel, perhaps? With the Convention Center expansion, that would make the most sense.

No word yet on where the HQ of Philly's biggest newsroom will move. What do you think of the sale?


Decked Out Homes in Philadelphia

Click on the photos to check out these decked out listings!

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Get in touch with the Somers Team for more information.


If You Build it with Legos and Lincoln Logs, They Will Come

It's okay if you never let go of your Lego phase. We've got an event just for you in Bella Vista.

The Philadelphia Block & Blob is an art show featuring some of your favorite building and sculpting materials from childhood. The work must be built with either blocks andor blobs. This can include, but is not limited to: Legos, Sculpey, Duplo, Lincoln Logs, KNex, Model Magic, Floam, Gak, Mega Blocks, Play-Doh, etc.
STORAGE Art Space, 1414 S. Darien Street, Philadelphia

Saturday July 30th - August 14th, 2011
Opening: Saturday July 30th, 3PM- 10PM

Gabriel Boyce
Alex Curtis
Nathan Dixon
Shelby Donnelly
Joy Feasley
Ann Gaziano
Beth Heinly
William Hidalgo
Jake Kehs
Valeria Kremser
Gabrielle Lavin
Preston Link
Jacob Lunderby
Julia Policastro
Lauren Ruth
Jeremy Smith
Jason Andrew Turner
Jeremy Waltman


Say Goodbye to Mind-Numbing, Predictable, Boring.

Mind-Numbing, Predictable, Boring. If that describes your home-buying experience, you have not seen Poplar Point.

The 2 Hottest 3 Bedroom New Construction in Northern Liberties challenge everything that you think you're looking for in a home and are like nothing else that you've seen before. We promise.

Some of the finer points...

Two Soaring 3 story, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath Luxury Custom Designed Homes

Finished Basements

Amazing Custom Windows

Private Balconies and Yards

Dynamic Interior and Exterior Design from the architects at Fishtank...

Poplar Point

902 and 904 New Market Street


Private Previews encouraged - not yet available on the MLS.

Make your appointment today! Get in touch with the Somers Team for more information.


Let’s Get to the Point: The 2 Hottest 3 Bedroom New Construction Homes in Northern Liberties

A Poplar Point of View


Fresh Address: 6212 Mershon Street

We're venturing to the great Northeast again this week to check out a home that's perfect for the family with an extra set of includes a garage with extra driveway parking in the rear. Priced so low you could probably buy that new car you've been wanting, too! And you won't mind the quick drive to Center City, Philadelphia when you're riding in style.

This is Where It's At: 6212 Mershon Street is a 3 Bedroom Home in Wissinoming. Which means weekends at the Wissinoming Yacht Club and Wissinoming Park. Other local treasures include Haegele’s Bakery for its German butter cake, and the Grey Lodge Pub, which is consistently ranked as a top beer bar in the country.

Come On In:  Charming and spacious, this clean and bright renovated 3 Bedroom 1 bath has a finished basement and garage, with a landscaped front yard and extra driveway parking in the rear. The interior features new bamboo floor is the kitchen and dining room, plush carpeting in the living room, a tastefully updated kitchen with new cabinets, subway backsplash and new appliances. The 2nd floor has 3 bedrooms with an updated hall bath.

Get in touch with the Somers Team for more information.

View Larger Map


Hancock Street Gets Some Razzi-matazz

Leo Razzi. You may not know him personally but if you have walked through Northern Liberties, then you know his sculpture work. Bike racks, gates, door accessories, local restaurants. Razzi's touch on the neighborhood is one that will continue to shape and influence the design of the area for years to come. And perhaps inspire others...

Razzi doesn't know it but we're naming this sculpture "Little Leo".  So far, the neighbors, dog walkers, and passersby love it. We were a little worried that not everyone would share or appreciate this type of art as a permanent fixture for the block. Bottom line, it's fun to look at and has a lot of moving parts so you can touch it, spin it,  or just look at the two crazy smiling faces on each side of the pole. We're glad we decided to commission the sculpture and hope many people will enjoy the piece in the future.

The entire work is made from welded iron sourced from scraps of metal that Razzi salvaged and now recycles in his sculpture. His warehouse is a menagerie of metal. We gave Leo the freedom to create anything he wanted. There are two faces on each side of the sculpture so people will be greeted with a smiling face whether they approach from Brown Street or from Poplar.

To stay tuned on updates along the 800 Block of Hancock Street and the Hancock Street Beautification Project, please like the page on Facebook.


Meet your Neighbors on the 800 Block of Hancock Street


The Oracle on Housing

The Oracle on HousingI love listening and watching interviews of Warren Buffett. I think we all can learn a lot from him.  It is hard to argue with his success.  When the financial crisis hit and he bought shares of Goldman Sachs, pundits were saying why?  A few years later that investment is up substantially.  He had the last laugh...

So when he was on CNBC recently and asked about housing, my ears perked up.  His quote was clear:

"If I was renting and had money saved up for a down payment, I would buy a house in a minute."

Thus, for anyone on the fence out there, and all of the investment advice you seek from the "professionals", I would probably listen to the Oracle, Mr Buffett.  Get out there and buy a house. You will be thanking both myself and Mr. Buffett five years from now!

On a side note, in speaking with my parents the other day, who are in their 80's, they reminded me that they are closing on their condo in Virginia in a few weeks and locked in on their rate that day at 4.5 percent.  They have owned several houses over the years and were thrilled that they were able to get the best rate ever in their lifetime.   Congrats to them.  No reason to "wait it out" !  As with Mr Buffett's Goldman Sachs investment, everyone locking in with 30 year fixed rates of 4.5 percent and low home price (cost basis) will be having the last laugh a few years from now...

photo by Alex Crippen / Bloomberg


Tawk the Tawk in Philadelphia’s Infamous South Philly Neighborhoods

South Philly is known for a lot of things but the local Philly Tawk dialect is perfected in Marconi, Whitman, Packer Park, and the rest of South Philly. The language is as entertaining as it is a true art form.

Here is a sentence in regular language:

"Wherever you live in South Philadelphia, you must speak the native language."

Here is the same sentence is South Philly Tawk:

"Wheah-evah you live in Sout-Philly. Ya-ga-da speak da nadive tung."

Here is a challenge for you. Can you translate this conversation?

Any-ding youse want, youse ga-dit. Fa-getaboudit.
J-eet? Has-a-bat some bref-fist?
Yaint hungry?
What? Dacatgotchatongue?
Wadya tink?

Does your area have words or phrases that only locals understand?

The South Philly area offers more than just its own language. Neighborhoods in South Philadelphia offer a lot of options on the Real Estate front.  First Time Home Buyers can purchase completely renovated homes and investors looking for Turn Key Cash Flow Investment Properties can get a great value and take advantage of appreciating neighborhoods.

So whether you say: wah-ter or wooder,  byoo-tih-full or byoo-dee-full, bay-gullz or beggles, the word in South Philly is BUY!

Take a look at 2415 S. Reese Street in South Philly. This 2 Bedroom charmer is just one of our South Philly listings that are worth brushing up on your language for.

Get in touch with the Somers Team for more information.


Your Own Piece of Reese Street


Phone: 215.253.6818