Naked Philly

Will have to come to community first

It might be awhile before developers have a chance to appear before the Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning committee for their proposal to transform a large corner vacant parcel at 623 E Girard Ave. into a new mixed-use building.

Developers from Ascender Investments failed to appear for a scheduled appearance with the FNA earlier this month, and have not yet filed an appeal with the ZBA, according to FNA zoning chair Matt Karp. The property sits at the edge of Fishtown, about a block from where Girard Avenue melts into I-95. We're pretty sure they're the same folks who built the seven homes on Flora Street in recent years- you can see the backs of those homes in the photos of the site.

The site, new homes behind it
From the other direction

“We spent a lot of time flyering and advertising for them not to show up to their community meeting,” Karp said.

Demolition done, construction soon

It was more than a year ago that we first broke the news that a bunch of new homes were soon to rise on the 1900 block of Walnut Street at the intersection with Van Pelt Street. Back then, developers from Conservatory Group USA had presented plans for the construction of nine new homes to the Historical Commission and were generally met with support. In the time since, they've demolished a one-story furniture store and an old surface parking lot, preparing the site for development.

Current view

More specific details have emerged on the project, which the developers are calling Van Pelt Mews. Check out this rendering, done by Cecil Baker.

A new letter and new owners

A story from Michael Klein clued us in a couple weeks ago about the recently opened Sarah's Place at 29th & Flora in Brewerytown. This building was, for many years, home to Sara's Place, which shut its doors a few years back. But new owners from MM Partners, a company that's done a ton of construction and renovation in the neighborhood, have fixed up the building a little bit and opened the new neighborhood bar. The inside is apparently relatively unchanged from its earlier incarnation, but the exterior has a bold new sign painted on the facade.

Sara's Place

With this place now open and Crime and Punishment in the works around the corner on Girard Avenue, Brewerytown's getting maltier by the day. We wonder though, whether the new bar on 29th Street will have a positive influence on some surrounding buildings. Immediately to the north, there's a zoning notice on 1222 N. 29th St., a former salon. The owners are hoping for a tattoo shop, and the application was continued by the ZBA back in August. So stay tuned on that property.

How didn't we know about this?

The Porch at 30th Street Station, now a couple of years old, has been a big success story for University City District. The public plaza replaced a sad stretch in front of our main train station, with events and food trucks adding life to the landscaped streetscape. It's been great for travelers, commuters, and the thousands who work at the IRS building across the street.

30th Street Station and the Porch
IRS Building across the street

We confess, we didn't expect any more public spaces to pop up over here, but that's exactly what's happened. Thanks to a solid tip from a reader, we visited a new green space that's appeared on the eastern side of the IRS building, where there was previously a giant hole that peered down upon I76. We can't seem to find any information or press about it, but we were really impressed with this newly landscaped area on land that was rescued from oblivion.

Across from future apartments

As Fishtown has continued to redevelop, we've seen a good mix of larger projects and one-off projects, sometimes even on the same block. On the 2100 block of Norris Street alone, we've seen the ten-home Norris Point project and an additional six homes get started a little closer to Frankford Avenue. On the other side of Frankford but technically on the same block, we recently came upon a one-off mixed-use building under construction at 2186 E. Norris St., replacing a vacant lot.

In the past
Framing underway

According to the permits, this property will have commercial on the first floor and residential above. It's encouraging that the developers would opt for a commercial use at this location. With Frankford Avenue just steps away, perhaps there's a belief that the good vibes from the corridor can spill over onto Norris Street, adding a slightly hidden retail amenity for the neighborhood. It's actually pretty consistent with the fact that the folks building this thing are the same ones who own the building across the street which is on its way to renovation.