Brothers Mathew and Michael Pestronk founded Post Brother Apartments in 2007, at a time when other companies in construction and development were feeling the market shift downward. The brothers firmly believed they could grow their apartment development company by going after underutilized markets and providing a product that did not exist in those areas before: high-end luxury apartments.
With the financial backing to acquire properties at the depressed market prices of the time, and a focus on quality and sustainability, Post started expanding its reach.
Today, Post is one of the top-five most active developers of multifamily properties in Philadelphia and the owner and manager of more than 1,000 rental apartment units in different areas of the city.
Post is a vertically integrated developer, owner and management company that considers itself more than an apartment developer, says Josh Guelbart, product director at Post. “We consider ourselves a consumer products company, putting the best product out there, which is our main goal,” he says.
The company, which buys and rehabilitates a variety of properties in Philadelphia, is involved in its buildings’ transformation from the time it purchases a property, through to the design and construction process and afterward, when it manages the apartment complexes itself. Post does not use third-party companies to manage its properties.
Guelbart, who is a trained architect and has been with the company almost since its inception, notes that Post considers a variety of buildings when looking at possible developments. “We buy either a down-and-out apartment building that has [seen] better days, or a place that used to be a factory or an office building,” he says. “We gut-renovate everything and make sure to design with a focus on sustainability. We use the most efficient system we can – insulated windows, low-flow faucets and toilets, appropriate energy-efficient lighting. We don’t just put an Energy Star picture on our brochures; we take active steps from inception to make sure the building is truly energy efficient.”
The biggest challenge the company faces is convincing capital investors that there is demand for its unique products in the neighborhoods it chooses. “We’ll buy properties and some people will say that we won’t be able to get what we are projecting [for rent], so we have to convince them, which we’ve always been able to do,” Guelbart says. He notes that the company’s success is a combination of the extensive research it does before acquiring a property, its excellent team of employees and the focus on the communities where it purchases buildings. “We’re here to help revitalize the communities; we’re not leaving.”
Post’s community involvement includes sponsoring little league teams, participating in neighborhood cleanups and being involved in community boards that help improve the neighborhoods. “We also are taking buildings that are detrimental to the neighborhood and making them desirable places to live, which is beneficial to everyone,” Guelbart says.
One of the company’s latest projects is located in Germantown, a neighborhood in West Philadelphia with easy access to downtown and close to one of the largest urban parks in the world, Wissahickon Valley Park.
Wissahickon Valley Park offers the new tenants in Post Brothers’ development 1,800 acres of nature, with trails to walk, bike and run and a variety of events throughout the year.
The $85 million redevelopment of the property began at the end of 2011 and is almost completed. The building was originally built in 1950 and had gone through a light renovation in the 80s that didn’t change windows or any major structural features. The development consists of two 12-story twin-tower buildings with 312 apartment units each.
The apartments will be a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units with a variety of layouts. They will feature hardwood floors throughout the units, ceramic tile in the bathrooms and modern designed kitchens with quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and integrated lighting throughout. Post also made sure the new design took advantage of all existing space with open floor plans, minimized hallways, strategically located private bathrooms and spacious closets. “We focus on compact, well-designed units so there is no wasted space you can’t use,” Guelbart says. “That is why we rip it all out and make sure we give people a modern feel with the high-end amenities our customers want.”
The new apartment complex will also have one of the largest green roofs in Philadelphia, located right above the building’s garage. “We are turning that area into the ultimate backyard for the residents,” Guelbart says. “We are putting a pool, dog runs, bocce ball courts, reading gardens and a barbecue area [on the roof].”
While finishing the twin towers in Germantown, Post is also pursuing a variety of projects in other areas of the city. “We have commercial lofts that we’re turning into luxury units right in center city,” Guelbart says. The project will consist of 163 loft-style apartments with a landscaped rooftop deck with a pool. It is scheduled to be completed this summer.
In December 2012, Post acquired the largest apartment complex in Philadelphia. “It’s called Presidential City and has just over 1,000 apartment units,” Guelbart notes. “We’re in the predevelopment process, deciding what we’re going to do with the property.”
No matter what the firm decides to do with the massive property, the new apartments will follow the modern, open layout that characterizes Post Brothers’ projects. Guelbart expects the company to continue growing, because, as he says, “People like living with us.”