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Hova haven: Jay-Z buys into NoLibs with The Lighthaus

Not long after some members of the creative class in Philadelphia began referring to the city as the sixth borough of New York, a crackerjack New York real estate developer by the name of Dawanna Williams decided to enter the market here. If her name sounds familiar, that may be because her inaugural Philadelphia project, a seven-story low-rise condo building in Northern Liberties known as L'eau (pronounced "low"), was so unusually high-profile.

The rapper Jay-Z was the project's solitary financer, but as the Cityspace agent Michael Garden explains, "It hit the market right when everything was tanking." And although some of the 1,400-square-foot 2BR/2BA units came on the market in the $600,000 range, says Garden, "everyone referred to the building as 'Lou.' Which is not the French word you want on your new building!" he adds, with a laugh.

Once the market slowly began to right itself, however, Williams and Jay-Z chose to give NoLibs real estate another shot. They changed the name of their $8 million building, which sits at 603 N. American St., and which now has FHA financing, to the Lighthaus. They made a few minor upgrades, including a concierge desk in the lobby. And this time, they seem to be succeeding, thanks in large part to the price-downgrade: The 24 units -- each with soaring floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal either the city or the Delaware River--are now listed between $377,000 and $488,000. Which isn't an unreasonable price, especially considering that Erdy McHenry--the same group responsible for the nearby Piazza at Schmidts--was the building's architect.

The Lighthaus, says Garden, "makes a statement in terms of contemporary architecture" in the city. "We're starting to turn towards an architectural challenge (in Philadelphia)," Garden adds. "We should encourage that."

Source: Michael Garden, Cityspace
Writer: Dan Eldridge

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