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Get Lowdown on Local Marshall Plan

February 23, 2006 By:
Sally Friedman- JE Feature
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Talk about entrepreneurship … when David Marshall was 19 years old and a junior at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, he was not just learning business principles. He was living them.

Marshall, whose late father was a salesman for a mortgage company, had been watching the migration patterns of the New York metropolitan region housing boom, and he saw Rockland County as the next area poised to explode. When he couldn't convince his father to start his own mortgage company to capitalize on Rockland County, Marshall accepted his father's challenge to do it himself - at 19.

"I walked into a bank and told them I wanted to start the first mortgage company in Rockland County. I happened to be talking to a Wharton graduate who knew I was still a college student. But he gave me a break, and I was in business," relayed Marshall.

And it became a successful one at that. The experience taught him that looking ahead at trends and thinking outside the box might well sustain him in the business world for the long haul. And after a two-year stint in the army, Marshall, already married and a father, was quite ready for real life. Colonial Mortgage in Philadelphia gave him his first official job; since then, Philadelphia has been his home.

David Marshall has a bird's-eye view of plans for the Parc Rittenhouse's seventh-floor roof club.

Marshall has proved to be one of the city's proudest boosters - and one of its visionaries. As he worked his way up from the loan department to a senior vice presidency at Colonial, he kept on learning. The anthem that would serve him well from that experience: Don't gild the lily.

During his later successful stint as president of Bass Brothers Realty, which was later renamed Ameribass Realty, Marshall orchestrated the purchase of the Dorchester on Rittenhouse Square, then a rental property. But Marshall brokered an historic deal arranged during a 20-minute phone conversation. The Dorchester's conversion to a condominium property came because of Marshall's uncanny sense of timing and trends.

Just a walk in the Parc - Rittenhouse, that is!

In 1987, Marshall acquired Ameribass, renamed it Amerimar, and continued to write real estate history around the country. His professional milestones have included the development of San Francisco's Pier 39, the most productive retail space in the country; the "Skins Game," the most-watched golf tournament in TV history; and even the redevelopment of a resort in the Virgin Islands.

But Philadelphia always has been his first love.

A Philly Phan 
It was Marshall who had kept his eye on the site of the Square's Rittenhouse Hotel, its construction mired in delays, and it was Marshall who seized the opportunity to buy it in early 1997. Under his stewardship, the Rittenhouse became a luxury condominium and five-star hotel that reflected its creator's credo: "Pride IN Philadelphia, Pride OF Philadelphia."

At a time when many would simply rest on their laurels, Marshall is deeply immersed in yet another Philadelphia landmark project.

Along with well-known Philadelphia realtor Alan Domb and Lubert-Adler, the real estate private-equity firm, Marshall is transforming the former Sheraton Rittenhouse Hotel and Rittenhouse Regency into the Parc Rittenhouse, with 305 condominium residences on his beloved Rittenhouse Square. Construction is under way, and the first residents may be moving in by the end of 2006.

It is, Marshall maintains, "an extremely exciting project - one of the most exciting!"

Originally built in 1925 as the home of the Penn Athletic Club, the redeveloped property will ultimately consist of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, as well as penthouses anchored by two restaurants at ground level, the popular Devon Grille and a new Stephen Starr French bistro.

Marshall promises "fine and elegant living," complete with a beautifully landscaped 4,400 square-foot atrium, a pool club with spa and sundeck, a fitness center, private garage and concierge service.

"Our lower-priced residences may just be the most competitively-priced condominiums on the Square," said Marshall, who is already seeing an influx of empty-nesters and young professionals.

"It's a noticeable trend - high-rise living definitely appeals to Jewish buyers who seem to appreciate the security, the services and the lifestyle," said Marshall.

And he knows a thing or two about the Jewish community; he has long been active in leadership capacities with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, as well as other organizations.

While his actual roots are in North Jersey, there's perhaps no bigger fan of Center City Philadelphia than he: "It has everything - nightlife, the orchestra, theaters and amazing restaurants. And the Center City District initiative has brought us cleanliness and friendliness."

"Philadelphia," continued Marshall, "is a phenomenal city, and I'm proud to be involved in helping others make it their home. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing."

 

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