Naked Philly

Little South Philly block is on the upswing

Back when we lived in South Philly, the 1200 block of Peters Street had quite a reputation. You probably wouldn't expect tales of drugs and violence for this little block just below Washington Avenue, but that's what we were hearing less than a decade ago. Fast forward to today and we don't live in the neighborhood anymore, but we're pretty sure that Peters Street has calmed down quite a bit and we can tell you that it's seen a little development in recent years. Back in 2013, for example, developers built a new home at the corner of 12th & Peters.

Corner of 12th & Peters

Looking down the block, you can see it's generally dominated by two-story homes, though a handful of three-story homes and vacant lots dot the block.

Mixed-use building planned on the 4900 block of Baltimore

We've been following the story of the Greensgrow Farms expansion into West Philly for over three years, and the latest chapter might be the most exciting one yet. Initially, Greensgrow planned to move to a long vacant lot at the corner of 51st & Baltimore, even holding a community meeting to discuss the possibility. That property fell through, and about two years ago Greensgrow West opened at 4912 Baltimore Ave., a vacant lot in the middle of a vibrant retail block. There had been a building here previously which was home to Elena's Soul restaurant, but it unfortunately burned down in 2012. Last year, we told you about plans for Greengrow to move to a larger space at 5123-39 Baltimore Ave., a vacant City-owned parcel. And earlier this month, they made their move to the new location.

And a dance club next door?

It's quite possible that you never noticed the Jarvis Building at 1209-15 Vine St., but if you're fond of dance clubs you'll soon be intimately familiar with the handsome old building. The building was constructed a little over a hundred years ago, and according to Volume 24 of The Horseless Age, it was constructed for the Quaker City Cab Company. Back then, Quaker City was one of but three cab companies in Philadelphia, which stands in strong contrast to our Uber-filled modern times. The building hasn't housed cabs in some time, but it's held up pretty nicely over the years.

Renovation at the Jarvis Building

According to a story from, a mother-son partnership from Connecticut purchased the Jarvis Building earlier this year and are now in the process of turning the first two floors into the largest dance club in Philadelphia. The project will also include two restaurants and office space on the upper floors. It's not our scene, but if the developers have half the club connections mentioned in the article, this has the potential to be a successful venture.

And another building is on the way

We had jury duty last week. We got called in the first group, spent a couple of hours waiting for selection, and then the case was settled and we got to go to lunch. Since we were in Center City, we opted for some tasty Double Knot, and during the walk over we passed the East Market project on the 1100 block of Market Street. When we last visited this project a year ago, it was a large hole in the ground. Times have changed.

Current view at 11th & Market
Current view at 12th & Market

For those that don't recall, this was the location of the Snellenburg's department store once upon a time. In the 1960s, the upper floors of the handsome building were demolished, leaving the horrendous two-story modernist Girard Square building, which was home for years to a collection of lousy stores. Now, National Real Estate Advisors, based out of DC, are in the thick of their East Market project on this block. The first phase involves the construction of a residential tower at 11th & Market with 322 units above retail, and the renovation of the former Family Court building on 11th Street into office space. You can see the rear of that building in the second photo above and per, it's now about 50% leased.

Gonna be a tough few months for this block

We haven't been to the 800 block of Opal Street for a few years, not since developers built two homes and a garage that were inspired by the Schmidt’s carriage house on nearby Cambridge Street. Designed by David Traub Architects, these homes are quite a bit more traditional looking than the standard new construction you see around town these days.

Built circa 2013

On our last visit to the block, we also mentioned a nearby vacant lot that was available for sale and opined that some enterprising developer would eventually take advantage of the opportunity, but wondered how they'd handle its narrow 12' width of the lot. The solution, to buy the adjacent lots from the City, seems straightforward but was surely a challenging exercise which took years to execute. Nevertheless, developers were able to purchase the adjoining lots and are now planning three 16'-wide homes for this location. A reader sent us an email last week that gave us the heads up about work getting underway at 867-71 N. Opal St.