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PHILADELPHIA-New York City-based AFR Realty Corp. has formed a joint venture with Ed Bernstein, a local investor, and Richard Zeghibe, president and CEO of locally based Patriot Parking Inc., to develop Schuylkill West Townhomes. The 43 two-story units were designed to sell for between $600,000 and $950,000.

Zeghibe tells GlobeSt.com the partners paid “north of $3 million” for the land, which is now an open-air parking lot at N. 23rd and Cherry streets. “We’re currently going through the permitting process. We’ll go before the zoning board in October and hope to break ground by the end of the year or early 2006.”

Schuylkill West units will range from 1,500 sf to 2,500 sf. The complex, located in the Logan Square neighborhood, will also include 100 underground parking spaces and a landscaped courtyard with cobblestone and brick walkways and an open garden plaza.

The all-in cost, including acquisition of the land, is about $40 million, Arthur Fefferman, AFC’s president, tells GlobeSt.com. AFC is no stranger to Philadelphia. This March it acquired the former Inn of Locust at 13th and Locust streets for conversion into 15 residential condos, and is partnering in the redevelopment of Liberty Court at Society Hill, a once-stalled townhome development of 35 units that is now back on track. In previous years AFC financed construction of Independence Place and the conversion of Drake Towers.

Asked if he was concerned about potential over-saturation of the Center City residential market, Fefferman says, “I’m always concerned about too much building. Philadelphia does not have a very deep market for condos, and a lot are currently under construction or planned. Despite my reservations about absorption of residential units here, I’m confident in our three projects because of their locations and uniqueness of product.” Like Liberty Court, Schuylkill West will contain “fee simple townhouses–not condos,” he points out.

The Inn of Locust conversion will begin, he says, at the beginning of 2006. Just over half of Liberty Court is either completed or under construction, with a first closing scheduled this month, “and we are 50% sold,” Fefferman reports. While, in general, most of the influx of new Center City residents comes from the suburbs, he says Liberty Court sales to date include “young marrieds with children in addition to empty nesters.”

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