Naked Philly

Folks in mansions next door probably won't love it

We made a trip to Ikea over the weekend, and we took Tasker Street to head back into town, with a planned detour at the Dutch for some delicious brunch food. On our way to enjoy some sweet Dutch babies, we happened upon a Demolition Notice on the 200 block of Tasker Street, on a building we've covered in the past.

The building

It was over three years ago that we brought 237 Tasker St. to your attention, noting that the property was listed for sale and might represent an interesting development opportunity. The building sits on a roughly 9,000 sqft lot, and runs all the way to Greenwich Street. We noted that the building was once home to Baker, Carver, & Morrell, a marine supply company that went out of business in the 1980s, and we were bummed about the likelihood that anyone buying the building would likely tear it down and replace it with townhomes.

It took a few years, but now it seems that's exactly what's happening. Well, that's actually speculation, as the demo permits are the only permits that have been pulled thus far. But why else would this building be coming down? We believe it's only a question of how many homes will be built and how the developers will lay them out. For the answer to those questions, stay tuned.

May not be practical, but will sure be great fun

The Delaware waterfront was once a hub of industry, as ships delivered raw goods, factories produced stuff while belching waste into the river, and other ships collected the new stuff and took it away. That's not the case anymore, at least not in the vicinity of Center City. Still, we've maintained some relics of those long lost days, like the impressive and vacant Municipal Pier No. 9. This old warehouse is an extension of Cherry Street into the water, running roughly the same depth as the adjacent Race Street Pier. Municipal Pier No. 9 is owned by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, and after achieving great success at Race Street, DRWC is looking to transform it into the Cherry Street Pier.

Current view

According to a press release, they've got some bold plans in store. While Race Street Pier is a lovely outdoor space used in a passive way, the vision for Cherry Street Pier is much more active. DRWC will reuse the existing building and divide the space into four separate concepts under one "roof." The Hub, a food and beverage space, and the Garage, a collection of reused shipping containers used as coworking and studio space, will be located near the entrance to the pier. In the middle of the pier will be the Platform, an open event space with a variety of purposes. At the end of the pier, the plan calls for the removal of the rooftop and the creation of an outdoor space called the Garden. Check out this site plan, to give you a sense of what we're talking about:

And more homes are coming soon

We've visited the 1900 block of E. Cumberland a couple times in the past, following along as new construction has filled in vacancy on the block. In the fall of 2015, we noted a pair of new homes at 1908-10 E. Cumberland St., from Callahan Ward. About half a year later, those homes were finished and two more homes were under construction across the street. As you can imagine, the block has seen some additional progress in the year since our last visit.

Less than two years ago

Same view, from Emerald Street, today

The most notable new construction on the block is the Suite Row development, which includes the five homes in the photo above. This project shows that contiguous homes are overrated, and it also includes homes around the corner on Jasper Street. Some of those gaps on E. Cumberland will get filled in, as two more homes are forthcoming as part of this project. As for the homes that have already been built, all of them have sold at prices between the high $300K's to low $400K's. We're digging on the white brick, and buyers seem to feel the same thus far.

Still close to what it looked like when it was built

Thanks to a reader tip, we visited 52nd Street earlier this week to investigate a potential student housing project in a building with some wonderful bones. It turns out the renovation wasn't aimed at creating residential units, but will instead result in a very large clothing store in a greatly improved building when all is said and done. As we were discussing that property, we mentioned that the Lincoln Theatre once stood next door, probably the reason it's known as the Lincoln Building. The Lincoln Theatre was demolished in the 1980s but we happened to notice a different old theatre very close by which has miraculously survived the ravages of time.

View in 1926, from Cinema Treasures

The Locust Theatre, on the northwest corner of 52nd & Locust, opened in 1914, according to Cinema Treasures, and originally showed a mix of moving pictures and vaudeville shows. By the 1930s, they nixed the live entertainment, and moved to movies only. In the 1970s, when many cinemas were closing their doors, the building was purchased by the Bushfire Theatre Company. The mission of the theatre company is to offer "greater opportunities to African American professional and non-professional actors, playwrights, directors and other theatre personnel." As a fringe benefit, the company has maintained this amazing building for the last forty years.

Sold for more than we'd have expected

At the northeast corner of 7th & Morris, developers built a trio of new homes over the last year, replacing a surface parking lot. We told you about the project when construction was just getting started, and if you visit the intersection today you'll notice that the homes are finished. One odd architectural detail, the corner home has a nice sized bay with some hilariously small windows. We get it, the bathrooms have to go somewhere, but it seems like a missed opportunity to add natural light to the home with two frontages.