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On the Way Up

GARY PULEO, TIMES HERALD, November 30, 2007

Transforming an abandoned refractory site in Plymouth into the teeming Metroplex was one of the Goldenberg Group’s most exhilarating triumphs, noted senior vice president Robert Freedman.

”I’d say that we’re one of the most dynamic and successful real estate development companies in Montgomery County, with a specialty in tackling immense projects,” Freedman said of the 20-year-old company based in Blue Bell.

“The Goldenberg Group is renowned for having developed 900 acres of land in the region, equating to roughly 35 million square feet of development, added Greg Reaves, vice president of leasing. I think anyone can argue that the Metroplex is the best regional power center anywhere near Philadelphia,” Reaves said. “We’ve taken existing land that, in most cases, had a previous use that was no longer of high value, and turned it into something special.”

Rounding out the list of the company’s most challenging makeovers is Water Tower Square in Montgomeryville, once home of a popular farmer’s market.

Now, with its attention diverted toward residential augmentation, Goldenberg has converted an Art Deco era office building on Washington Square in Philadelphia into luxury condominiums.

“We took an existing office building that was built in 1929 as the corporate headquarters for NW Ayer, the nation’s first advertising company,” explained David Mercuris, vice president of development. “Ayer was best known for the slogans ‘Snap, crackle and pop’ for Rice Krispies, and ‘Reach out and touch someone’ for AT&T”, Mercuris noted.

Working with the historic commission and the National Park Service, Goldenberg completely gutted the building in a two-year, $75 million renovation that resulted in 56 units. The Ayer’s façade was meticulously preserved and restored to its original luster, down to the landmark bronze doors that open out onto Washington Square.

“The building is absolutely gorgeous, and when you walk in the lobby, it’s breathtaking,” Mercuris said. “Rather than trying to recreate something from the ’20s, we created a modern, sleek look.”

The high-end construction materials included marble and tile from Greece and Portugal, along with German-made stainless steel for the kitchens.

“Although minimalist to some degree in design, it’s very sumptuous in the use of the materials,” Mercuris noted. Hotel-like amenities include a concierge and doorman, valet parking and state-of-the-art gym.

One-bedroom units start at $870,000, while penthouses are available beginning at $3.9 million.

”I’m happy to say that we are 70 percent sold, having huge success here in Philadelphia in a market that is characterized, at least in the media, as one that is very difficult right now,” Mercuris noted.

Though the conversion of The Ayer is the Goldenberg Group’s first foray into the residential realm, the project was just another extension of the company’s trenchant strategy, Reaves allowed.

“What’s unique about the project is that The Ayer clearly could have remained as an office building, but in the wisdom of the team they were able to see through that and create something truly spectacular,” he said.