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The construction site of the riverloft luxury condos on walnut st. by dranoff properties

With the snip of a ribbon, University officials and city leaders formally kicked off construction on the Left Bank luxury apartment complex this summer.

The building, located at the former General Electric warehouse at 31st and Walnut streets, will provide 280 new housing units for Penn professors and students, as well as young professionals residing in the University City area.

In addition, the $58 million complex will be home to retail and office space and 266 underground parking spaces. Officials expect the building to be completed on time and on budget by January.

Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and University President Judith Rodin all spoke at the event, praising the building that Penn hopes will increase its presence east of campus and make the area more appealing to young professionals and graduate students.

“The Left Bank will anchor the whole Philadelphia community,” Street told the approximately 200 people gathered for the ceremony in June.

Carl Dranoff, the apartment complex’s developer, predicted that this project would be “the success story of Philadelphia real estate in years to come.”

Dranoff also explained the story behind the complex’s name, noting that Philadelphia’s own Benjamin Franklin was the first emissary from the United States to France.

Consequently, he said, it was only fitting that the property — which will largely serve the Penn community — be named for the area Franklin inhabited while in Paris.

“It’s going to outhip Paris,” Dranoff said of the apartment complex, adding that the Parisian Left Bank represents the culture and art of Paris, much like he hopes University City can represent the art and culture of Philadelphia.

Rodin agreed, saying she expects the Left Bank to “bring vibrancy and life to University City.”

The University purchased the former GE building in 1996.

After securing nearly $55 million in investments, the University and Dranoff Properties agreed that luxury apartments would serve as the perfect entrance to University City.

The University will maintain ownership of the property while giving developer Dranoff a 40-year renewable lease.

Leasing for the Left Bank’s studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments began in June.

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