Naked Philly

Unless the neighbors fight against it

Over the last five summers, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has taken over underused properties in neighborhoods around town, greened them, and created pop-up beer gardens. Last year, pop-ups operated on South Street West and at the base of the finally under construction Rail Park. Previous incarnations have appeared on South Broad Street, on Walnut Street near Rittenhouse, and at the bottom of the Italian Market. This summer, PHS is looking to partner with NKCDC to open a pop-up beer garden at 1825 Frankford Ave., a 10K sqft lot that's used as a garden center by the community organization. Sounds fun, right?

At least the construction workers can easily snag a bagel

The Graduate Hospital neighborhood is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in town these days, offering close proximity to Rittenhouse but not commanding Rittenhouse prices. Yet. As recently as fifteen years ago though, this was a neighborhood in transition and you could still buy a shell for well under a hundred grand. The 700 block of 20th Street was, at that time, a mix of vacant land, older buildings, and a smattering of new construction. Today there's nary a vacant lot and just about every property is either relatively new or has been renovated in recent memory. Actually, let's track back that last statement- there's now one vacant lot on the block.

Will they succeed?

We brought 2221 N College Ave. to your attention a couple years ago, noting the unusual triangular shape of the building and the fact that it looked like death warmed over. At the time, we told you that a developer had purchased the building back in 2012 and had begun doing work on the property, but that work stalled out and the building was sitting blighted, vacant, and roofless. Recently, a notice appeared on the building with a warning that the building was unsafe and that the owner had 30 days to make repairs. Without action from the owner of the property, the City could demolish the building.

Still a lot of work to do on this block

The 1000 block of Fairmount Avenue doesn't exactly jump off the page as an attractive location for development. Railroad tracks run a block and a half to the east, and a few warehouses sit between 10th Street and the tracks. And the north side of the block is the southern side of the Richard Allen Homes, a PHA development that runs all the way to Girard Avenue. The south side of the block is dominated by vacant land, with a mere four residential buildings in the middle of the block breaking up the chain of vacancy.

Richard Allen Homes at 10th & Fairmount

Despite these facts on the ground, Carmel Developments built a residential building on this block a few years ago. The project, which they called Fairmount Abode, included half a dozen condo units and underground parking and sold out relatively quickly. One of the units went on the market for the second time about a year ago, trading at $300K. This was a $70K premium over what was paid in 2013, a good indication that this block isn't immune to the positive momentum we're seeing in other neighborhoods around Center City. 

Fairmount Abode is on the right

Despite the success of the Fairmount Abode project, we haven't had a reason to come back to this block since it was finished. Until today, that is. A reader gave us the heads up about a new hole in the ground, so we naturally went to check it out.

Glad to see this building stick around

The Ridge Avenue Farmers Market was one of the most impressive buildings in Francisville and also functioned as the economic center of the neighborhood for almost a century. We've covered this building before, so please raise your hand if you remember that it was constructed in 1875 in the High Victorian Gothic Style. Nobody? Oh well. If you'd like more information about the building's architecture, its 1983 nomination to the National Register of Historic Places provides all sorts of detail.

Sadly, the building fell out of use in the late 1960s and fell into disrepair as the neighborhood deteriorated. A storm in 1997 caused the roof to collapse and it was demolished soon after. The property sat vacant for a long time, with a row of townhomes finally filling in some of the parcel a few years back. Recently, we've heard rumblings that the rest of the property could be redeveloped in the near future. All of this is well and good, though we wish the old building could have stuck around for the rebirth of Francisville.