777 ribbon cutting

Dranoff properties rolled out the “green” carpet (literally) last evening to celebrate the official unveiling of its new all-rental building, 777 South Broad, between Fitzwater and Catharine streets. Feasting on cheese and olives, a crowd of several hundred new tenants, realtors, Dranoffians and other interested parties gathered in a bare-bones room which, the developer promises, will soon host a restaurant.

Backed by photos of the crumbling abandoned buildings — and the subsequently bulldozed lot — that once stood on the site, Dranoff spoke of the project as a continuation of Symphony House, his 31-story skyscraper which opened three years ago a few blocks to the north. Noting his commitment to the Avenue of the Arts, Dranoff said that even though 777 is a much smaller building — at just five floors and 146 units —  “in many ways, it will have a greater impact.”

Billed as Philadelphia’s “first non-smoking building,” 777 is LEED—registered and boasts sustainable touches like high-efficiency HVAC and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that take advantage of natural light. On hand at the opening were three Drexel design students who won a competition, sponsored by Dranoff, an alum, to provide sustainable interior decor for one of the model apartments.

The Honorable Marjorie Rendell — Pennsylvania’s first lady and a noted booster of the Avenue of the Arts when husband Ed was mayor — applauded how such residential development completes the picture for a renewed South Broad Street, and Mayor Michael Nutter proclaimed 777 a “showcase building.”

City Councilman Frank DiCicco spoke of the continued improvement of the Hawthorne neighborhood. When PlanPhilly asked him about the perennially-scruffy vacant lot down the block at Broad and Washington, he replied determinedly: “That’s next. We’re going to get to work on that.”

As guests swarmed the building, one empty nester couple got their first real look at the place they had bought into a few months ago. Relatively recent transplants to Philadelphia, they said they learned about 777 while  checking out condos in Symphony House. “I heard about the additional taxes you have to pay to the city when you close on a sale, though, and I started thinking maybe we should stick with renting,” laughed Sandra Krisztal. The agent at Symphony House directed Sandra and her husband, Ruben, to 777 and they quickly became the building’s first lessees.

Next week, they will become its first occupants. “I loved the quality of the Symphony House, and I thought Carl Dranoff provides everything I look for in a building,” said Sandra. “Now that I’m really seeing 777 for the first time, I think we made a great choice. This building is gorgeous.”


Contact JoAnn Greco at jphila@aol.com

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