They tout the building, to rise on what is now a parking lot at the southwest corner of Broad and Pine Streets, as a catalyst for extending the Avenue of the Arts southward, eventually to Washington Avenue.
Dranoff gained acclaim for converting factories into luxury loft apartments - most recently the Left Bank in University City and The Victor on the Camden waterfront.
This will be his first new building in 20 years.
He is buying the land from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., a city economic development agency. The PIDC acquired it as a possible parking garage for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which is a half-block to the north.
The PIDC invited firms to compete for the right to develop the site. It required that proposals include an entertainment venue.
"We wanted to see uses consistent with the Avenue of the Arts," said John Grady, PIDC senior vice president. It selected Dranoff this year.
"Symphony House will offer . . . the romance of city living that you find around Rittenhouse Square or on Park Avenue in New York," architect Michael R. Ytterberg said.
The largest apartments, on upper floors, will have terraces or balconies and sell for about $1 million, Dranoff said. Some may be combined into even more expensive units.
One-bedroom units will sell for about $300,000; two bedrooms for $575,000 to $625,000.
No floor will have more than nine apartments, said Ytterberg, of Philadelphia's Bower Lewis Thrower Architects.
If all goes as planned, Dranoff said, he will begin construction in January and move in the first residents in the summer of 2006.
Symphony House would continue a Center City housing boom that has seen 4,235 units added since 1998, according to a Center City District survey, without raising vacancy rates or lowering sales prices and rents.
Developers plan at least three more major condo projects, aimed at the same high-income buyers: Hal Wheeler's complex at 18th and Walnut Streets on Rittenhouse Square; Tom Scannapieco's 30-story tower on 17th and Rittenhouse Street; and Timothy Mahoney's skyscraper at Chestnut and 15th Streets.
The Symphony House vehicle entrance off Broad Street and parking garage will serve both the residential tower and theater, Dranoff said. The top floor, open to all residents, will have a roof garden, fitness center, party area, conference room and catering kitchen, he said.
"The tower will be clad in light buff-color brick, similar to many Philadelphia buildings, with granite and limestone trim at the base of the building. At the base are large arched windows that recall the Academy of Music," Ytterberg said.
Like those in other new buildings in the city, residents will pay no property taxes for 10 years. "This tax abatement and current low-interest rates means the buying power of our prospects will be stretched very far," Dranoff said.
His partners, Gamble's Universal Cos. and Lomax's North Star Co., have formed a joint venture, called Unistar, to work with Dranoff on this project and others in the South Broad Street neighborhood.
"We believe there should be 2,000 to 3,000 new residential units in the area over the next five to seven years. This project is only the beginning," said Abdur-Rahim Islam, chief executive officer of Gamble's company.
They hope to create, from Pine Street south to Washington Avenue, a street of small restaurants and 150- to 200-seat clubs featuring all types of contemporary music, Islam said.
"It will be like Jewelers Row, which has all types of jewelers in one location. We want all types of music, Islam said.
This music row, Islam said, will make Center City "a more artsy and interesting place to live and also a more attractive destination for suburbanites and tourists."
It will be an extension of the Avenue of the Arts, Islam said, designed to appeal to adults, age 35 and up, "not the younger crowd that goes further down on South Street."
None of this would have been considered a few years ago, when this section of South Broad was flanked by declining neighborhoods, Islam said, adding: "But, for several years, we've been actively engaged in rebuilding the area. We've cleaned out a lot of dirt, filth and blight. . . . It looks like heaven compared to what it was before."
Contact staff writer Henry J. Holcomb at 215-854-2614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.