The future is here: Vitamin C-infused showers

When Icon, a former office building at 1616 Walnut St. in Philadelphia that is being converted into apartments, opens in April, it will attempt to set itself apart from the competition by promoting health and wellness.

Eleven apartments on the ninth floor will have 15 healthy features. Some of those include: circadian lighting so residents can reset their body’s internal 24-hour clock and regulate melatonin levels; advanced air purification and water filtration systems; vitamin-C infused showers that will neutralize chlorine and help a resident’s hair and skin quality; and anti-microbial coatings on bacteria-susceptible surfaces that stop germs and bacteria from spreading.

Monthly rent for these units will come at a premium and preliminarily range from $2,100 to $3,300.

The developers of 1616 Walnut tapped Delos, a New York real estate company that, like sustainable and LEED building standards, came up with so-called Well Building Standards that when incorporated into the built environment promote health and wellness. Just as development projects can get LEED certified, they can now seek to be “well” certified through the International Well Building Institute.

A partnership among Federal Capital Partners, Cross Properties and Alterra Property Group spent $50 million on the conversion but decided not to commit to making all of its 206 units in the building with these special healthy features.

“We believe that a subset of Philadelphia will want this and be able to pay somewhat of a premium,” said Kevin Michals of Cross Properties who is a vegan and endurance athlete. “I wholeheartedly believe in it. We are offering this as an alternative for anyone who wants it.”

So far, 10 percent of the overall units have been pre-leased but none on the ninth floor, Michals said. The weather has been a bit of an impediment to pre-leasing efforts but he expects activity to pick up during the prime spring season. Some of the rents that the building has gotten have been in the low- to mid-$3 a square-foot range and some have any come in at $4 a square foot.

Those rents have validated the project for Michals.

“I think there is a compelling case for this,” he said. “When we made an offer on the building and told people our business plan, they thought we were crazy. We love the location. It is at the intersection of the best residential district and best retail and restaurant district.”

Aside from offering a floor of “healthy units,” the interior was designed to give renters somewhat of a boutique hotel experience. JK Roller Partners and Floss Barber Inc. were the architects.