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PHILADELPHIA-At an estimated cost of $4 million each, developer/partners Fred Berg and Steve Fox have begun low-rise condominiums on vacant lots in two far-flung neighborhoods. Pine.West is at 4742 Pine St. near the University of Pennsylvania, and West Poplar Square occupies the full 700 block along Brown Street in Northern Liberties, which is on the opposite side of Center City.

Pine.West, a five-story, 20-unit property, broke ground this week. Berg confirms that according to public records, the land was acquired in August 2006 for $385,000. This will be the first new construction in West Philadelphia in decades, Berg says, and Pine.West is designed to blend in architecturally with the surrounding buildings.

The lower floor is partially underground for parking. Residential units range from about 600 sf to 1,200 sf, Berg says. Reginald Burton of the Coldwell Banker Realty Corp. Associates’ Pier Five office is handling the marketing, and he says four units are pre-sold. Prices range from $207,000 to $376,000, and the building is scheduled for occupancy in spring 2008.

The location is within the boundaries of the University of Pennsylvania’s Enhanced Mortgage Program. Designed to encourage Penn employees and professors to live in the community, it provides a loan of up to $7,500 with no interest and no monthly payments to qualifying applicants. If the borrower remains a full-time employee of Penn and its affiliated entities and occupies the space for five years, the loan is forgiven.

West Poplar Square is a three-story, 19-unit property, designed to consist of four adjoined buildings, completed in as many phases. Plans call for three 21-foot-wide joined buildings with six bi-level units each, capped by a single townhouse at one end. “The first group of six is completed and sold,” Berg tells GlobeSt.com, “and the second phase is under way.”

The units are approximately 1,300 sf to 1,600 sf. Each has a garage, and the prices are in the $300,000 range. According to public records, an entity of Berg and Fox acquired the land in February 2006 for $990,000.

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