We've discovered a new hole in the ground at 512 E. Girard Ave., just a couple blocks away from a less than perfect addition that we covered yesterday. This property previously looked kind of rough, with a vacant lot at the corner of Eyre Street, a one-story garage next door belonging to the car dealership across the street, and a bike store attached to another one-story garage. Especially when you consider all the development that's happened on and around East Girard over the last several years, it was really only a matter of time before the same thing happened here.
We've commented a few times that the new Penn Herb building is essentially the gateway into Northern Liberties, and we therefore wish it were a little taller and more striking architecturally. The flaw to our argument is that Penn Herb isn't actually the gateway to the neighborhood since you have to walk through Doughboy Park before you get to it. This little green space, also known as Madison Memorial Park, was renovated a few years ago and is quite welcoming despite a lack of shade and the fact that it sits right next to I-95.
Doughboy Park and I-95
The Doughboy statue in the foreground of the image above is, of course, the source of this park's moniker, and it's got a fascinating history. The book Northern Liberties: The Story of a Philadelphia River Ward, published in 2012 and available for purchase on Amazon, provides great details. Sculpted by John Paulding, the name of the statue is "Over the Top," and it was dedicated in 1920 as a memorial for deceased World War I soldiers from the area. It was originally located at 5th & Buttonwood, but redevelopment moved it to 17th & Spring Garden before the Northern Liberties community worked to bring it to 2nd & Spring Garden in 1981.
Has it ever been a tough road for the retail space at the southeast corner of 10th & Carpenter. Over the last decade, we've seen a crazy amount of turnover in this space, with half a dozen coffee shops coming and going over that time. Can you remember all of them? If not, this list should serve as a reminder of the difficulties of the coffee business and the challenges for this tiny space across from Bardascino Park.
InFusion, Mazag Cafe, Filter Cafe, Bookz-n-Beans, Brown Sugar Cafe, Down Dog Healing Cafe.
In April, Function Coffee Labs opened here. We checked it out a couple weeks back and came away really impressed.
Function Coffee Labs
This place takes their coffee very seriously, upping the artisanal ante by offering tasting flights as a standard menu item. A duo flight is a shot of espresso and a shot of coffee. A trio is a coffee shot, a cortado, and a pourover coffee, all made from the same coffee bean so you can appreciate the flavors expressed from the different preparation methods. Very cool stuff. They've got some basic food and some pastries too, and with their coffee program offering something new and different there's a real shot (no pun intended) that they'll stick here where others could not.
If you live in the area or even if you don't, check 'em out and help the cause. And then go play some bocce across the street.