Naked Philly

Move in with Uncle Jesse

Heading home after getting whooped again in kickball, it somehow seemed appropriate that we found ourselves on Mercy Street, a tiny block just north of Snyder Avenue. Heading down the narrow street's 400 block, we were not at all expecting to find three homes that had clearly been built very recently.

400 block of Mercy Street
Three new homes

417-21 Mercy St. sit on what were previously vacant lots which were purchased by V2 Properties a little over a year ago. If the name of that developer sound a little familiar, it's because we've mentioned a few of their projects before. Remember, they have a big project in the pipeline on Front Street in Northern Liberties, with plans for twenty-three homes. And similar to their Mercy Street project, at least in terms of building on a narrow block that's just north of a major corridor, they built five homes on League Street in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.

Fixes Up Blighted Home

It was an obituary that ultimately provided the information that led to the transformation of a blighted home near 49th & Baltimore instead of its demolition on the taxpayer's dollar. Detective work from Project Rehab reached all the way to Brooklyn, and in the end a home that had collapsed in on itself everywhere except for the facade was renovated and sold for $335K in a span of 18 months.

In the past

“There are always different stories and always different complications,” said Ryan Spak, who operates Project Rehab at University City District.

Since its conception in 2011, Project Rehab has positively impacted thirty-one homes in University City and West Philadelphia and has created $11.3M in real estate value from distressed properties, according to Spak. In February, we shared the story of another collapsed home at 4923 Osage Ave. that had been rehabbed and put on the market for $350K.

It's taken years, no big whoop

Despite a great run of redevelopment in the last fifteen years or so, Philadelphia still has its share of prominent vacant lots. The northeast corner of 15th & Chesnut, which could become a hotel, stands as one example. Broad & Washington, both the northwest and northeast corners, is another one. Today though, we turn our eyes to the northwest corner of 2nd & Race, in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Right in the middle of Old City and mere steps from the awesome Race Street Pier, this parcel cries out for mixed-use. Instead, we've got this:

They keep doing good stuff

Over the last couple of years, the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation has renovated a number of buildings on and near Passyunk Avenue, improving the corridor one property at a time. Thanks to their efforts, the Avenue now has a comic book shop, Will BYOB, and a new Fond location, among other stuff. And soon, PARC will renovate the former Colombo's to accomodate a new steak house, and will oversee the construction of a new gateway to Passyunk Avenue. But at the moment, they're working on a renovation of 1520 E. Passyunk Ave., most recently home to Karina's restaurant.

At least half of Montrose Court seems dead

At the end of 2011, the 2500 block of Montrose Street looked like it would soon experience a host of changes. Metro Impact had introduced a project called Montrose Court, which would have meant the construction of eight new homes on the north side of the block and three homes on its south side. Though some neighbors on Christian Street had problems with the height of the proposed homes due to concerns about shadows, we were pretty confident that the project would get built quickly.

Old renderings

Years went by, and the project wasn't happening, though the two-story homes that populated the north side of the block were eventually demolished. Earlier this year, a hole appeared on the south side of the block and we thought that the project was finally getting underway. Alas, the block still sits undeveloped and the Montrose Court lots are overgrown.