Naked Philly

One has been vacant a long time

The 1800 block of E. Passyunk Ave. is seeing some action of late, and there's still room for more. At 1805-09 E. Passyunk Ave., the Saint Jude Shop closed its doors last summer and has sat empty for about a year. When we passed by earlier today though, we spied brown paper in the windows signifying a possible new tenant. According to a Passyunk Post story from last month, early intelligence says that a dance studio will be taking over the space, and there will be a retail element as well. 

Former Saint Jude shop

Just down the street, Chhaya Cafe, neighborhood treasure and maker of tasty waffles, has moved to a new and larger location. This move shouldn't make things too tough for their regular customers, as they've moved two doors down to 1819 E. Passyunk Ave., formerly home to a store called Sweet Alyssa. Though there isn't elaborate ironwork outside anymore, the new space is much roomier than their previous spot and can only mean good things for business moving forward. Gotta love all that frontage.

Affordable housing near Temple

It was almost two years ago that we first told you about Ingersoll Commons, a ten home affordable housing development from Community Ventures on the 1600 block of Master Street. Since we shared this news, there's been no action at this massive vacant lot that's surrounded on all sides by a student housing construction boom. And Temple University. But earlier this summer, when we showed you a new hole in the ground nearby, we mentioned that an official groundbreaking had taken place and that construction should be starting soon. Soon is apparently now.

Big empty lot
Closer look

The ten homes will appear behind the fence you see pictured above. Between the homes and 16th Street, a new park is planned. According to, we'll be seeing 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom homes with basements. KSK Architects did the design work, and we poached this rendering from the Community Ventures website. Prices start at $140K per home.

Student housing on parade!

An example of spillover development is taking place right now along N. 40th St. between Baring and Spring Garden Streets in University City. You may recall two years ago when the 4000 and 4100 blocks of Baring Street wer transformed from a mouthful of vacant lots into a whole row of student housing. Projects on that street seemed to lead one to the next as work just kept coming like a good sunny summer.

On a slow day earlier this month we headed out to University City to check up on some projects on Baltimore Avenue that in the end did not pan out (or haven't yet), like the potential Greensgrow at 51st (which opened this year in the former location of Elena's Soul on 49th), and Babylon Bistro, a second restaurant from the owners of Askum along the 5000 block. What we found on our way was lots of development along N. 40th Street. It wasn’t long ago that the Pro Gulf auto repair warehouse stood at on the east side of 40th Street, just north of Baring.

After years of blight and vacancy

At Front & Jasper in East Kensington, residents have long stared at the vacant former Bromley carpet mill, hoping for redevelopment and praying that it wouldn't catch fire. Though the surrounding neighborhood has improved dramatically in recent years, the building has remained a significant source of blight next to the York Dauphin El station. When new ownership stepped in a few years ago, neighbors were surely hopeful that this would change, but the status quo was maintained for quite some time.

In the past

In late 2012, according to Hidden City, owner Jesse Munoz came before the East Kensington Neighbors Association with a plan to convert the building into 45 condo units with retail and live/work space on the first floor. We would have to imagine that the plans for the building's renovation have changed somewhat, or perhaps they still aren't finalized. What we know right now is that there's some work taking place on the property, at long last.

But it's got a possibly exciting future

We've seen student housing sprout up all over West Philly in recent years. We've seen it in a concentrated area near 40th & Baring. And we've also seen it pop up at various Mantua locations, sprinkled around the neighborhood in projects large and small. Most recently, we told you about plans for a new building coming to 34th & Hamilton, and expressed concern that it would probably look bad. We're sticking with that prediction.

A much smaller project is on the boards for 526 N 31st St., which sits on an interesting block just north of Spring Garden Street. As recently as 2007, this was a vacant and blighted building which was formerly owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. After they demolished the building, they sold it to an individual who we suspect may have flipped the property to a developer. Earlier this week, a project came before the ZBA to build a triplex here, but a decision was held pending a meeting with the local RCO. The ask seems reasonable- if the lot was 75 sqft larger, it would be a by-right application.

Zoning notice

This triplex, assuming it gets built, will sit across the street from a collection of train lines that run through 30th Street Station. Fortunately, those rail lines are blocked by some greenery. We would have to imagine the trees don't block the noise though.