Sonder to take over four properties in Philadelphia

US: Short-term rental operator Sonder is to take over four Philadelphia properties that are being converted into apartments, with plans to offer furnished rooms to short-stay accommodation seeking travellers. 

Sonder says it will take under lease an historic Witherspoon Building office property, a former Frank P. Heid & Co. hat factory, and two smaller buildings in Old City and near Rittenhouse Square in the city.

Sonder, which has raised $135 million from investors to fuel its expanding business, operates in around a dozen cities worldwide, including London, Miami, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

In Philadelphia, competitors such as Spokane Valley, Wash.-headquartered Stay Alfred Inc. and Method Co.’s Roost Apartment Hotel also lease blocks of apartments from property owners to offer as furnished guest suites for travellers seeking short-term rentals.

Sonder’s general manager for Philadelphia, Eric Kravitz, said: “We’re bullish on the market. It’s not only a good market or a great market, but a growing market as well.”

The company already offers a number of accommodations in the city but many of these existing locations are being leased by their landlords under conventional rental terms.

The company will also manage the visitor apartments at the Harper residential tower, where 45 short-term units are planned, according to building owner Pearl Properties.

At the 11-story Witherspoon Building, Sonder is working with owner SSH Real Estate to convert the former offices into a 186-unit apartment building that it aims to begin booking for short-term rentals by spring 2020.

Kravitz added that Sonder’s 96 units at the eight-story Heid Building north of Center City, meanwhile, are projected to open up for bookings as soon as this summer.

Another 14 units are planned at 1704 Walnut St., a three-story building fronted by a now-vacant retail space where a Pearle Vision branch once operated. The property was purchased by investment firm Asana Partners in November.

Finally, in Old City, Sonder plans to manage seven apartments in a former rowhouse that Philadelphia-based owner Civetta Property Group is rehabilitating.