Naked Philly

Replacing vacant lots

Just a block off of Lehigh Avenue, around the corner from where the Kensington Community Food Co-op will be opening sometime soon, we recently spotted two new construction houses at the intersection of E. Huntingdon & Coral. This parcel has been vacant for many years, but recently turned over for $75K. For a double-wide lot in this area, that ain't bad.

Two new homes

The homes are already listed for sale for $380K, which is pretty much what we'd expect to see in this neighborhood for a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2,500 sqft home. These homes will stand a few blocks away from and in direct contrast to the homes we profiled just yesterday. As opposed to the homes further down Coral Street, the Huntingdon Street homes are 16-feet wide, a much more standard dimension for Philly row homes. They also start at a much higher price point, which makes sense.

Plus a rendering

Old beautiful churches demolished for high-rise development. It could be a headline about elements of redevelopment occurring across Philadelphia. But on Penn's campus at 38th & Chestnut, Philadelphia Episcopal Church was saved (it has been claimed) because of a trade; two historic brownstones at the site were demolished and a tower will rise in their place. Some of the revenues from the tower will go toward renovating the church's Cathedral.

In the past

The historic buildings were torn down this winter and the beginning of 3737 Chestnut Tower, a 25-story mixed-use project, has risen from the earth. Developers Radnor Property Group broke ground on the $110M project in December. When it's finished in the summer of 2015, the high-rise will include a Zen garden, a sunbathing area, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and 276 apartments. Parking will go underground and there will be ground-floor retail.

Is this thing even on?

A little less than two years ago, PREIT closed on the purchase of the Kmart building, which meant it controlled the vast majority of the real estate containing the Gallery Mall. At the time, we wondered whether that transaction might finally lead to a renovation at the mall to make it more pedestrian friendly to passersby on Market Street. Earlier this year, when news of Kmart's closing came down the pike, we learned that PREIT would likely be chopping up the former retailer's home and using the space for multiple stores. Again, we wondered whether that fabled renovation would begin soon. Alas, there's nothing doing yet.

Never a bad thing

In April of 2013, we told you about a new home rising at the corner of Orianna & Thompson in South Kensington. That home looks like it's done (as well it should be, a year plus later), though a construction fence remains around the property.

Home on the corner of Orianna St.

At the same time, we told you about two blighted homes on the 300 block of West Thompson Street. The homes lacked windows and generally looked all kinds of crappy. They were both tax delinquent to the extent that the City could have sent them to Sheriff's Sale. And according to a commenter, both were purchased with a fake deed, and the original owners were fighting in court to get their properties back.

In the past

We don't know whether it was something judicial or simply the market, but both homes have since turned over. Developers Thirty3 LLC bought 331 W. Thompson St. in April, and 333 W. Thompson St. last October. They wasted little time in demolishing the old buildings, and have framed out two new single family homes where they once stood. Note, the new homes have little boxes on them to hold the required permits. So it's all on the up and up.

Adding to the corridor

We remember back when The 700 was the place to be on 2nd Street, mostly because there weren't too many other places to go. Over the last decade plus, the 2nd Street corridor in Northern Liberties has experienced a dramatic resurgence. The Piazza is the big fish, drawing plenty of people to area businesses, and housing a few hundred more potential customers. But closer to Spring Garden Street, it's been a collection of small businesses that have slowly filled in the gaps along the corridor. And another space could soon get filled, after many years of vacancy.

Under construction

710 N. 2nd St. has been empty for over a decade, with its storefront boarded up. Avi Developers LLC purchased the building back in 2002, and their 4,500 sqft property has surely appreciated over those years. Finally, it seems they're renovating the property. According to FUSA Designs, the architects working on the project, there will be a commercial space on the first floor and three 2-bedroom apartments above. The renovation effort was apparently spurred by the fact that the new zoning code allows the project by right, and the old code required a variance for the project described above. Does anyone who lives in the neighborhood have any additional insight into the recent history of this property?