New Apartments, Old Glory In West Philadelphia


Stars & stripes in the streets | Photo: Bradley Maule

Stars & stripes in the streets | Photo: Bradley Maule

As the West Village Apartment complex has sprouted like some new economy at 48th & Brown in West Philadelphia, the colors enveloping the building have hardly been beige, but brave–home of the brave. With Phase I already complete, Phase II’s buildout, completion targeted for March, has added some serious splash to a corner also occupied by an abandoned warehouse and a Dollar General store, including an American flag motif centerpiece.

“What I like about it,” developer Hillel Tsarfati of B&T Home Builders says, “[is] it’s a happy color, like a Miami Beach or California.” The bright colors–an “American flag” bookended by various earth, pastel, and primary tones–are part of a larger strategy to “lift up” the neighborhood, as Tsarfati describes it.

“We like to go to undeveloped neighborhoods and do something for the neighborhood that’s not there,” Tsarfati says. Certainly, a modern complex with three- and four-bedroom apartments with green roofs fits that bill in West Philly’s Mill Creek neighborhood. But, Tsarfati is quick to point out, B&T has done this before, building in Northern Liberties and G-Ho ahead of their booms, and he hopes to see the same development follow.

Perhaps it’s too early to forecast that level of revival in Mill Creek, but B&T does indicate that occupancy is going well, and that Phase III will be begin in the spring. When that happens, the street wall along Brown Street will block the American flag from public view, but residents with private access will see it and three others like it, as the interior causeways will be lined with bright colors including four flags.

While the project has a gated-community feel (and gated off-street parking), the townhouses, when completed, will certainly have a strong presence amidst West Philly’s row house scale.

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.


  1. I love what they are doing, but a part of me tells me this must be some kind of east european money laundering scheme. is there really demand for this location?

    • I wonder the same thing every time I drive or bike by. The neighborhood is certainly one that might see some spillover from the Drexel side of “University City” but it’s still pretty far removed.

      I know the post said Phase I was complete, but anytime I go by there at night complete does not necessarily translate to occupied. Then again it’s behind a gate and my access is limited.

      (I’m never a fan of new development that physically separates itself from existing neighbors through gates, walls, etc. Maybe that’s just me…)

    • Haha no this is a profitable project with a real bank lending on it

      The key is low construction costs and big balls

  2. That’s no mans land between Drexel campus and university city . What will the rents be like ? The gates are unfortunately necessary . The area has a lot of potential.

    • I don’t know your definition of no mans land (could it shorthand for black?) but this area is blocks and blocks from either Drexel and UC, which is fine. Let it be what it is, why is No. Lib. the only model for other parts of the City?

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