Today a press release found its way to our inbox, announcing the Spruce Street Harbor Park at the Penn's Landing Marina. This two-month pop-up will include the creation of a little pier that has a restaurant, a water garden, and nets that will allow visitors to feel like they're walking on the water in the river without actually having to touch it. On the shore, you'll find a boardwalk, misting areas, some temporary fountains, a hammock garden (!), and an urban beach. Sorry Sugarbeach, there's a new game in town this summer!
The rethinking of public spaces has become all the rage in Philadelphia in the last couple of years. Every spring, more parklets appear outside of popular businesses. The Porch has taken a bleak stretch of sidewalk in front of 30th Street Station and turned it into an active, programmed space. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society keeps creating pop-up gardens in prominent vacant lots. And in a couple of weeks, the triangle at 23rd Street and Grays Ferry Avenue will become the next public space, albeit on a temporary basis.
Catharine Thorn Park
For years, efforts have been in the works to take the first little section of Grays Ferry Avenue away from cars and give it to neighbors and pedestrians. With a string of businesses on one side, hopes for a great mixed-use project on the other side, and a restored historic fountain and some fantastic trees in the middle, it seems like a no brainer. And soon, after many stops and starts, a six-month trial will place to see just how well it works out.
Over two years ago, we first broke the news that a mixed-use building would be replacing the long-vacant and blighted YWCA Annex building on the 2000 block of Chestnut Street. Back in January, we told you that demolition efforts were finally underway. And last week, an official groundbreaking took place at 2017-23 Chestnut St. for the building that will eventually be known as AQ Rittenhouse.
In the past
In case you don't remember the deets (and can't read the sign in the photo above), the project is being developed by Aquinas Realty Partners. The twelve-story building will include 110 apartments and a commercial space on the first floor that's still available for rent, if you're interested. Freire Charter School, located next door, will expand into the basement of the new building, providing much needed additional space. The structure was designed by BLT Architects and Stampfl, and will be shooting for LEED Silver certification.
Early this morning, we were passing through Mantua and spotted a construction fence on the south side of the 3400 block of Wallace Street. Across the street and down the block, we then saw formwork, announcing another project nearby. This made lots of sense to us, as vacant land in this area has become increasingly attractive to investors looking to build student housing. And we'd bet that's exactly what will happen here.
Back in early 2013, when NextFab Studios opened at 2025 Washington Ave., we were super-stoked that the high-tech workshop would also include an in-house cafe and creperie. Sadly, things didn't work for Cafe L'Aube, and the artists, builders, and designers who do their thing at Nextfab were left to fend for themselves in the food department. In a great example of the "do it yourself" attitude of NextFab, Evan Malone, the guy who founded the place, decided to open a restaurant there instead of seeking out another tenant. It should be noted that he's also half of the team behind Rex 1516 and Jet Wine Bar on South Street West along with Jill Weber. Both are involved in the Mexican diner, dubbed Cafe Ynez, which opened its doors this week.
NextFab Studios, now featuring Mexican food!
We visited a couple of days ago, and the pair have done a bangup job. The space has been completely reimagined, and a new hood means that cooking is happening on the premises. According to a recent Zagat story, much of the interior work was done by NextFab staff members. They also have some sweet interior photos. In case you're wondering, Ynez will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week, and for brunch on weekends.