# 30 Real Estate Man
A lot of the enjoyment for many in the real estate business is in the process of the acquisition of properties.
My friend and fellow Real Estate Man, Harry, called one morning and asked if Real Estate Man would like to see a property with him. It was fairly priced and was on one of the most desirable streets in Center City, Philadelphia — Walnut St. Properties like he was describing were rare — especially at the price Harry quoted. Real Estate Man eagerly took him up on his offer to see the place. Maybe they could hook up in a partnership.
Harry and Real Estate Man waited in front of the building at the designated time of his appointment with the listing broker. While standing there, Real Estate Man noticed the property across the street. It had a large bank of floor to ceiling windows on the 2nd floor stretching the length of the property, about 80 feet. Admiring it, he mentioned the property on the other side of Walnut St to Harry. Harry told him the whole 2nd floor of that building was rented to the Restaurant School Division of what is now known as the Restaurant School of Walnut Hill College. The school teaches courses in culinary arts, restaurant management, pastry, and hotel management.
Both Harry and Real Estate Man thought the school would be a great neighbor if they were to agree on a deal to purchase the building they were viewing that morning. Harry and Real Estate Man envisioned the smells of haute cuisine meals and freshly baked bread. A perpetual dinner party.
The property they were viewing, was a thing of beauty. It was a magnificent 4 story brownstone, in the classy Victorian style of buildings prevalent on that block of Walnut St.
The selling broker arrived. He told them they had until 12:00 noon to go through the building. That amounted to about 15 minutes! That was far too little time for a thorough analysis. The reason the broker gave us for the early heave-ho was that 12:00 was when the business that occupied the premises opened. The owners didn’t want a couple of real estate men in the property interfering with business, Real Estate Man guessed. What was going on here?
I don’t know; Harry and he weren’t that conspicuous. Were they?
My suspicion was further aroused when the selling broker said, “That’s when the big wigs start arriving: the judges, lawyers, councilmen……”
They opened the front door.
Real Estate Man’s story:
Upon entering the broker, Harry and I had to allow our eyes to adjust to the lack of light. Even before my eyes made the adjustment I got a vaguely creepy feeling. Sleeze was in the air. I could almost feel it. A musty, smelly, sweaty warmth — and the business hadn’t even opened for the day yet!
The seller soon partially cleared things up for Harry and me. Hastily, as if he didn’t have much time, using as measured words as possible he explained,”The the building houses a place of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism (aka: BDSM).”
He mentioned that we had to abbreviate our visit because it would be 12:00 shortly and the movers and shakers of Philadelphia: judicial, governmental, legal and so on — would be arriving and they needed their privacy. We could come back at another time if we were interested in tendering an offer and needed to see more of the property.
I’ve probably repressed most of the visit. I do remember seeing some of the women who worked there and some of the tools of the trade (things, I’m sure, they don’t carry at Walmart). The whole place gave me the creeps. It seemed dirty, somehow.
Just then, the first of the “customers” (patients?) arrived and we were shooed out.
There IS one thing that stands out in my mind about the visit. As Harry and I exited the building, our eyes becoming readjusted to the sunlight, we saw standing in that floor to ceiling, 80 foot expanse of windows in the Restaurant School, what must have been the whole freshman class dressed up in full chef’s whites, complete with tall white traditional hats ( toques). Every student was shaking the naughty finger at us.
Our imagined prior behavior in the property we had just departed was not approved by the future chefs. The young chefs judging us for a change — instead of us judging them.
It was an awesome display.
Harry and I never bought the building on Walnut St. An investor did and made it into an apartment house.
Sadly, the Restaurant School moved. Complaints about the smell of garlic from tenants in new apartments across the street — I heard.