As Dranoff Properties’ LEED-certified five-story apartment complex rises from South Broad Street in Philadelphia, ongoing planning and testing at an off-site test model are ensuring that the property is not only green—but also lives up to the developer’s high standards.
Situated on the “Avenue of the Arts,” a resurging residential section of South Broad Street now home to the Philadelphia Theatre Co., a high school for the creative arts, and others, 777 South Broad will feature 146 contemporary loft rental apartments, along with retail and restaurants on the ground level. The property was previously occupied by boarded-up homes and a defunct hospital.
777 South Broad is Dranoff’s first foray into LEED building, so the company sought to verify the quality of new or unfamiliar green products before installing them into the units. A mockup apartment, erected at the developer’s headquarters, allows the staff to verify LEED credits and, perhaps more important, run tests on products.
“It’s definitely an additional cost,” director of marketing Melissa Wyatt says of the mockup. “But with so many new products going into this building that we haven’t used in the past, we want to make sure they are up to the quality of our other projects.”
Products including carpet, cabinets, and appliances have gone through trial-and-error periods. Plyboo bamboo flooring, for example, underwent a battery of tests to simulate day-to-day wear and tear, including dropping hammers on it. Some choices were replaced while others, like the bamboo, made the cut. Bath and kitchen fixtures were not tested because the company already specifies low-flow models in its other properties.
Dranoff also tried out three types of interior windows that will be installed above the kitchen to bring natural light into an interior bedroom. The mockup allowed the developer to select units that not only meet LEED requirements but also are aesthetically appropriate and perform well.
In addition to quality control, the test site helps show the construction team where to install various elements. “This is their example so when they get on the job they know exactly how it’s done,” Wyatt says. “This is the standard we’re holding their work to.”
Aside from its green products and design, 777 South Broad offers proximity to alternative transportation: The building sits atop the Broad Street subway station and will include reserved spots for PhillyCarShare and on-site bike storage. The facility also will feature a reflective roof and skydeck, pervious paving, and high-efficiency mechanical systems.
Despite the down market, Dranoff has already gotten good response to the South Broad project, including 500 requests for information. Interest and participation in green building is growing in the city, says Wyatt, and Dranoff is positioned “to be part of the changing face of Philadelphia.”