125 N. 10th St. stands as a unique example of a building that has been designated historic both locally and nationally, even though its defining features only date back to the 1970s. According to the nomination to the local register, the building dates back to the 1830s, but none of the original facade is currently visible. T.T. Chang founded the Chinatown YMCA on the second floor of this building in 1955, providing services to Chinese immigrants as well as native born children of immigrants in what was then a growing Chinatown neighborhood. Chang purchased the building in 1966 and two years later the YMCA transitioned into the Chinese Cultural and Community Center. In an effort to connect the building to the heritage of the local community, Chang hired architect C.C. Yang from Taiwan to completely overhaul the building's facade to reflect the "Classical Chinese Style." This work was completed in 1971, and was the basis for the building being added to the historic registers. Looking at the building, it's hard to argue against its historic nature.
Market East was a commercial center in Philadelphia in the early part of the 20th century, but as the decades rolled along, increased competition from the suburbs and other factors resulted in a diminished status for this shopping district. The Gallery opened its doors in 1977, in an effort to beat back this phenomenon, creating a suburban shopping experience in an urban setting. And people were really into it! The first phase of the mall had Strawbridge's at its eastern end and a relocated Gimbels to the west with stores in between, and for for a time the mall was a major attraction. It was successful enough that a second phase was constructed in the mid-1980s, stretching the mall to 11th Street and connecting it to the (then newly opened) Market East Septa Station.
But if you've lived here for any length of time, you know how things went. It wasn't too long after the Gallery II opened that the mall started falling on hard times. According to a story on deadmalls.com, Gimbels closed in the late 1980s and mall patrons couldn't get from Gallery I to Gallery II on the upper floors. Clover eventually opened in the former Gimbels, but only on the first two floors, which resulted in snowballing vacancies on the 3rd floor of the mall. As the years went on, the Clover became a K-Mart, the JC Penney at 11th Street became a Burlington Coat Factory, the Strawbridges closed, and the mall took on a lower budget vibe. Combined with the fact that the building had absolutely no street presence, the Gallery has been long overdue for a major renovation effort.
The last few years have brought major changes to 4328-44 Ridge Ave., a property that we first told you about almost exactly three years ago. At the time, the property was listed for sale for $1.5M and we were hopeful that a developer would buy the 42K sqft lot and build something "big, dense, and residential." At the very least, we were hoping that whoever bought the property would change up the looks of the buildings on the site, as they resembled ugly ski lodges.
A few years ago
About a year ago, we told you that Overbrook Real Estate Investors had purchased the property and would indeed be converting it to a residential use in a project called Falls Bridge Lofts. The plan called for the renovation and reuse of the existing buildings on the site and the construction of a new five-story connnecting building with frontage on Ridge Avenue. When we reported on the property last year, construction was just getting underway. But when we passed by the other day, we noticed that the project is seemingly finished. And it looks pretty good.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that we drew your gaze to the 1800 block of E. Huntingdon St., noting a pair of triplexes under construction immediately next door to the Huntingdon El Station. In general, we find it surprising just how much development has happened so close to the El in recent years, but this new construction at Kensington Avenue was truly surprising. Today, we have news of a project in a slightly more predictable location, but with a much larger footprint. Please join us if you will, on the 1900 block of E. Dauphin Street.
A few years ago
This block is capped off by My Philly Pawn, the self proclaimed largest pawn shop in Philadelphia. At the end of the block is a community garden, and just across Emerald Street is Emerald Park. It's like we said, this block is a step up from the 1800 block of E. Huntingdon Street. Still, we wouldn't necessarily expect to see a ton of new construction on this block, but that's exactly what's happening.
As the Naked Philly mobile was struggling to make its way up Lyceum Avenue in Manayunk the other day, we spied five new homes under construction. For many years, 235-47 Lyceum Ave. was a vacant parcel, commonly used as an area for spectators during the Philadelphia International Championship bike race, but not much else. As the race was cancelled this year, the elimination of this lot wasn't such a big deal, but if the race makes a comeback, people will surely notice that a prime viewing spot on the Manayunk Wall is gone.