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PHILADELPHIA-New York City-based Urban Residential has begun conversion of the 33-story office building at the corner of 15th and Locust streets into the Aria condominiums. Christopher Martorella, Urban’s CEO, tells GlobeSt.com the all-in cost is $60 million.

The building, previously known as Lewis Tower, was completed in 1929, and Urban acquired it in April 2004 for an undisclosed price. In September 2005, during conversion, a large chunk of the facade fell onto the adjacent property, a Bookbinder’s restaurant that was being converted into an Applebee’s. No one was injured, and, despite the glitch, Aria is back on track. “We’re proud to be restoring this Beaux Arts gem to its historic glory,” Martorella says.

There are 114 residential units, and Martorella reports that 30% of the project is pre-sold, primarily to empty nesters and young professionals. One- and two-bedroom units range in size from about 1,000 sf to 2,000 sf, and there are also full-floor penthouses on the top levels. These, which afford 360-degree views of the city, “are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find,” says Richard Colucci, Urban’s locally based regional managing partner. Unit prices range from the low $300,000s to more than $2 million.

The architect is New York City-based Handel Architects, which is also designing the planned W Hotel, which Urban plans at the corner of 12th and Arch streets in joint-venture with locally based Parkway Corp. Urban also developed the St. James, a rental residential tower on Washington Square West.

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