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[Joe Devlin/The Daily Pennsylvanian] The century-old mansion at 4200 Pine St. will soon be converted into luxury condominiums.

The University has reached an agreement with a Philadelphia-based developer to turn a century-old mansion at 4200 Pine St. into 33 luxury condominiums.

The French Renaissance-style building -- which served as the headquarters of the American College of Physicians before being acquired by the University in 1989 -- will be developed by the Rodin Group.

The agreement, reached last week, projects an approximately $8 million cost for the renovation.

As to the profits, Penn will net 25 percent, and the Rodin Group-- which has no connection to former Penn president Judith Rodin -- would earn the remainder.

Construction on the mansion, which until recently was used as office space for various University departments, will begin soon after 15 of the units are sold, according to Esaul Sanchez, asset manager for Penn's Facilities and Real Estate Services.

The units will range from one to three bedrooms and be will start at about $269,000. The priciest option -- the Trumbauer Mansion -- is listed at $1.75 million.

Sanchez said the project is in keeping with the University's goals of improving the housing stock in the area and increasing home ownership in University City.

Condominium residents will be able to send their children to the Penn-Alexander School, which is within walking distance.

The University began contemplating the project two years ago, Sanchez said, adding that the renovation will take about 18 months to complete.

The move -- Penn's first foray into developing condos -- was greeted with cautious optimism by members of the community.

Barry Grossbach, chairman of the Spruce Hill Zoning Committee, said, "The idea of condominiums is an attractive one."

Grossbach, whose group encourages home-ownership in University City, said he is eager to see what the plans look like, adding that he is concerned about changes to the building's exterior.

Sanchez said the first 15 buyers will work with the developer on designing the interior layout. Those buyers, he said, would be working with "an open canvas."

The University, he said, is working toward preserving the exterior of the building, which was built in the early 1900s for the Eisenlohr family, owners of the former Conco Cigar Co.

Mark Stuart, president of the University City Historical Society, said he hopes the developers pay attention to the building's historical value.

The society hopes that "the University and the developers of this property will look for local groups like the University City Historical Society to ... give their vote of confidence in the transformation of this property to residential use," Stuart said.

Tom Lussenhop, developer of Spruce Hill Homes -- a 10-unit condominium building on Osage Street between 42nd and 43rd streets -- said he thinks that the "market investment is responding to the improvements made in the neighborhood."

While University City was once dominated by the rental market, many are glad to see new opportunities for home-ownership.

"The more new and varied types of housing that are available in the neighborhood, the better," Lussenhop added.

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