If you try to travel down 24th Street this week, south of South Street, you will run into a bit of a problem. And by a problem, we mean a massive crane lifting pods onto a steel-framed structure at the corner of 24th & Bainbridge.
Looking down 24th Street
The project in question is Bloc23, a four-story mixed-use building that has been years in the making. We first told you about this project back in 2011, and after years of legal wrangling, the project broke ground last summer. The first floor is framed out in steel, with the upper floors constructed as pods that are slowly being delivered and assembled onsite. This process started about a week ago and you can see that the 2nd floor looks to be about halfway installed. And it looks pretty cool.
A little over a year ago, we traveled out to Walnut Hill in West Philadelphia to tell you about a derelict apartment building getting a makeover at 51st & Walnut. The building was vacant for a pretty long time and had garnered a whole lot of damage from graffiti, the weather, etc, and we were pretty happy that its fortunes were finally turning around.
Back in 2013, when we first wrote about it
Upon returning to the site this past week, we were pleased to see the work seems to be complete. The stucco front facade and other renovation materials actually work fairly well with this building, though we would have liked it even more if they could have restored the bay windows by approximating the original materials. Yeah, we would have loved to have seen it restored to its original Victorian glory, but we were not the ones doing the redevelopment design work.
We'd like to think we've set foot on just about every block in greater Center City, but we confess that today might have been our first time at 5th & Wood. And this makes some sense. From a driving perspective, the 5th Street tunnel takes you past this corner, popping out at Callowhill Street. From a pedestrian perspective, there's an overpass immediately to the north, offramps to the west, and the entrance to the Ben Franklin Bridge to the south. So it's not an intersection that you'd casually stumble upon if you're wandering through town on a weekend afternoon.
To look at this property from a different perspective, it's close to Center City and Northern Liberties with easy access to highways and the bridge. Despite that, it's in an incredibly quiet area with relatively few cars and pedestrians. Those factors make the property a fine candidate for a high end project, and that's exactly what's happening here.
It's pretty remarkable that we're seeing so much redevelopment on Front Street, and it's even more impressive that the projects have tracked so far to the north. Earlier this year, we told you about some new foundations at 2008 N. Front St. and told you to expect a building with 22 rental apartments and a large commercial space. Checking in on the project the other day, we saw a building that looks finished from the outside, but we couldn't spy the retail space the architects suggested would be forthcoming. Even if there was a retail space, the fence in front of the building isn't so welcoming to potential customers. Oh well. We'd say the lack of retail is no big whoop, and we're just happy to see any development whatsoever under the El.
Relatively new apartments on the west side of the street
Wouldn't you know it, there's another project under construction at 2021 N. Front St., pretty much across the street. This site was sitting vacant, aside from a two-story building which was demolished at some point in the last few months. Now we see there's a sizable foundation that's been poured in advance of a 29 unit building. We have to imagine these units will be offered as rentals. And as we said across the street, we don't lament the lack of retail here, as Frankford Avenue is two blocks away.