Naked Philly

Large parcel now available for sale

We lived around the corner from Pat's and Geno's about a decade ago, and occasionally found ourselves on the 700 block of Latona Street.

700 block of Latona Street

Every time we walked that block, we wondered about the unusual 706-724 Latona St., a property we jokingly referred to as "the compound." It's like nothing you'll see anywhere else in town, with a mere three homes and a staggering amount of open space behind a metal gate. A zen garden takes up about half of the property, and it includes an actual koi pond, with fish swimming around having a grand old time. The rest of the space is paved, providing easy parking for the residents.

Building has been vacant for decades

The former Spring Garden School is coming back to life! We first thought about this blighted building during the summer of 2012, and told you that it had been sitting vacant since the 1980s, slowly deteriorating despite joining the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The building sits at 843 N. 12th St., in the middle of the massive Richard Allen Homes PHA development, and we wondered whether the building could possibly attract a market rate developer, or whether affordable housing was a more realistic hope. It turns out that it'll be redeveloped as affordable housing and this makes all kinds of sense.

The building

We got a press release last week, advertising a groundbreaking ceremony for the reuse of this building into an affordable housing development for seniors and veterans. It's a partnership between PHA and HELP USA, an non-profit that focuses on helping the homeless population. The funds for the $14.5M project, the 5th for HELP USA in Philadelphia, come from Historic and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, debt, and philanthropic dollars. When finished in the middle of next year, the property will house 37 apartment units, with 12 of those units reserved for homeless vets. 

We'd heard about plans for an Italian taproom

The northeast corner of 8th & Carpenter has improved dramatically since we first brought it to your attention back in the summer of 2011. Back then, we discovered a building with wonderful bones that had fallen on some really tough times. Though the wonderful bay windows were mostly intact, the windows on the upper floors were all covered in plywood. The cornice was in serious need of a paint job, but you could see that it was once magnificent. And the first floor, which was once a grocery store, retained its windows and looked like it was frozen in time somewhere around 1966. Given its prominent location just a block from the Italian Market, we figured it would only be a matter of time before redevelopment caught up to the building.

They look like they'll be pretty large

It's been a few months since we last checked in on the 2300 block of Alter Street in Point Breeze. Back in April, we updated you on the progress of the residential development on the block, noting that additional homes were under construction and many units had sold from the first phase of the project. At the same time, an unfortunate storage facility was rising on the north side of the street (and more prominently on the 2300 block of Washington Avenue), and we knew it would only continue to get taller as the months rolled off the calendar. Checking in today, we see, predictably, that more homes have been finished, more units have sold, and the storage facility has gotten bigger.

Row of new homes on the 2300 block
Tons of storage coming soon across the street

If we look a block to the east though, we see additional development on the 2200 block of Alter Street. We last visited this block in 2012, at which time a two-story modular building was under construction to be used as artist workspace. Seeing as it looked nothing like any other building in the neighborhood, a reader remarked that it looked like a spaceship had descended into Point Breeze. Four years later, there's still nothing like this building in the area.

Unexpected, given construction started at the beginning of the year

Over the last few weeks, a couple of readers have reached out, wondering about the green space next to the Ingersoll Commons project at 16th & Master. For those unfamiliar with Ingersoll Commons, it's a 10-unit affordable housing project from Community Ventures which went up last year on an enormous parcel that had been sitting vacant for many years. This project is unique for a couple of reasons, not just because it's a new construction affordable housing project in the heart of student housing country. It's also quite unique because the plans include a large green space along 16th Street, taking up more of the parcel than the residential component. We told you about the groundbreaking for this park at the beginning of this year.