'Lifestyle' to rent


If a short stroll to work sounds more appealing than rushing to catch the train or girding yourself to face angry fellow drivers you’ve probably toyed with the idea of living closer to campus. Penn’s mortgage programs offer one way to do that. A new luxury apartment building at 34th and Chestnut, cattycorner to Hill Field, will soon offer another.

What used to be a two-acre surface parking lot adjacent to the Sheraton Hotel will—by late 2007—be transformed into 290 upscale apartments overlooking the Law School, with amenities including a heated outdoor pool, a private screening room, a WiFi Internet café with free tea and coffee and a 24-hour concierge.

Named Domus, after the Latin name for home, the upscale apartments (rendering, above) will boast 10-foot ceilings, gourmet kitchens and walk-in closets as well spa-like bathrooms with oval soaking tubs. The complex will also include a lineup of as yet unnamed retail stores on the street level.

The $71 million project represents Penn’s first partnership with the Hanover Company, a Houston-based developer that will lease the land from Penn for 65 years. In the planning stages for several years, the eight-story building promises to bring 400 to 500 new residents to the area, which will add “a lot of vibrancy and life to an area that’s been fairly forlorn,” says Penn’s director of development management Paul Sehnert.

With rents projected to start around $1,500, Domus is likely to attract a similar tenant profile as the nearby Left Bank, says Sehnert. “We expect there will be some students,” he says, “but this is market-rate housing, so likely tenants would be faculty and staff as well as people who like living in University City and want to be part of our community.”

Though this is the first time Penn has worked with Hanover, Sehnert and his team in Facilities and Real Estate Services feel confident about the selection. Hanover has carved out a specialty in mixed-use development, he says, producing “a well managed apartment product that features a ‘lifestyle.’” The theory, he says, is that “when you live in an apartment building, you want to plug into a community, so that’s what they make,” from the onsite social director to the regular cooking classes and movie nights.

For more information on Domus, go to www.domuspa.com.

Originally published on November 3, 2005