The last time I saw Philadelphia developer Carl Dranoff and talked his Avenue of the Arts Dranoff Properties’ Arthaus condominiums – a residential behemoth in the form of a luxe, 47-story, 524-foot-high tower at Broad and Spruce Streets – it was before Covid-19, in January 2020. At a Kimmel Center gathering designed to celebrate Philadelphia native A. Eugene Kohn’s new book, “The World by Design: The Story of a Global Architecture Firm,” Dranoff slipped in that his Arthaus would be ready for 2021, that it would be a proud neighbor of the Kimmel (an amalgamation of “Lincoln Center meets Broadway meets the Upper West Side”) and that Kohn’s firm, Kohn Pedersen Fox, designed the Bauhaus-inspired property at 309 South Broad — the one-time home to Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff/Thom Bell’s Philadelphia International Records — to include a greenhouse and private garden bed area where residents could, in the developer’s words, “plant kale and tomatoes, and sip cappuccino,” all while being able to admire “sweeping unobstructed views.”
Now, starting tonight – Wednesday, September 16 – Dranoff and a handful of University of the Arts’ professors and musical students commence “Serenade on the Avenue,” live atop the outdoor pop-up construction stage on the 7th floor of the Arthaus construction site at Broad and Spruce Streets. While tonight’s show from 6 p.m. will feature opera as its musical theme, September 30 embraces Broadway show tunes, while October 14 plays host to jazz standards and vocalists.
“We never imagined that our new condo high-rise Arthaus would literally become an art-house when we named it, but, it’s 2020 so we had to get creative,” said Dranoff in an email statement. He knows something about art-houses as he built World Café Live in West Philly, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre at Symphony House down the block from him, and One Theater Square in partnership with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ. “Now more than ever, we need to be uplifted, inspired, and united in a way that only the arts can do, and our construction site offers a way for student artists to play safely for the enjoyment of our City.”
Per a prepared statement, September 16’s balcony concert, Opera on the Avenue, features Miranda Pilato and Andrew Malabunga, seniors at the University of the Arts and vocal majors. The duo will perform selections from composers Franz Shubert, Giacomo Puccini and Henry Purcell. On September 30, Broadway is celebrated with composers like Stephen Sondheim, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Jason Robert Brown performed by University of the Arts faculty member AJ Luca and Giacomo Fizzano, a senior musical theater major at the University. Then it’s time for jazz on October 14 featuring University of the Arts faculty member Kevin Hanson of Philadelphia with Ravi Seenarine, a junior saxophone major from Magnolia, NJ and Shanon Chua a sophomore vocal major from Somerdale, NJ. Musical selections include works by Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Johnny Mercer.
So, look up. You’ll get dizzy from the heights and the music.