Capitolo Playground in Passyunk Square, is one of our favorite neighborhood parks in town, even though it was built atop a former cemetery. Now, the completion of a new mural on the playground building is a testament to one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city. It's also one of two beautification projects planned in the neighborhood right now, with plans for another mural at 10th & Washington this winter. The mural features a collection of diverse faces, young and old, as though you were simply walking down the street in this neighborhood. That the faces have been painted on the wall, larger than life, might remind us to the simple beauty of anyone's face, the marvel that we’re even here to begin with.
We like to think we're pretty good at sleuthing out details for most projects around town, but every now and then we find ourselves flummoxed. The other day for example, we came upon some construction on Shurs Lane in Manayunk, right after the tracks if you're coming from Main Street. 133 Shurs Ln. was until somewhat recently home to the Kowalski Post, a veterans organization, but they sold their property to developers due to money problems, according to Newsworks. With a sales price of $1.1M, those money problems should now hopefully be a thing of the past.
Former Kowalski Post
What caught our attention is the extensive work happening just to the south, where the Kowalski Post previously had a parking lot.
Do you lie sleeplessly in bed at night, just wishing you owned a chunk of Washington Avenue? Do you fantasize about being catalyst that unplugs the dam and sets off the chain reaction that redevelops all of Washington Avenue with a mix of residential and commercial uses? Do you just think about owning a property next to a car wash and around the corner from Nam Phuong?
The property has eighty feet of frontage on Washington Avenue, and measures over 10,000 sqft. Unlike many parcels on Washington Avenue, it's zoned commercial and not industrial, which permits a mix of commercial and residential by right. The sellers it seems, have mocked up a potential plan for the parcel, and included it with the listing.
In early 2013, we told you about plans for twelve apartments and six parking spots at 14-22 W. Thompson St., which was at that moment a vacant lot. At a Fishtown Neighbors Association meeting, the community opposed the project- but we don't think the opposition was entirely about the development itself. We weren't previously aware, but the parcel had been home to a community garden for fifteen years. The fact that the developer razed that garden before getting building approvals may explain some of the opposition to the project from near neighbors. It's also possible that the developer's reputation led to objections to the project. On the record though, neighbors stated that they didn't like the density and were worried about parking.
As the Spring Arts section of the West Poplar neighborhood (let's just agree that this will be the shorthand name for this area from now on) has blossomed with development in recent years, the former Independence Press building at 11th & Green has remained vacant and blighted. About a year ago, we shared the news that this party pooper of a building was going to auction, which we hoped would mean that development would quickly follow. And while the "quickly" part is up for debate, it seems that the slow gears of change could finally be turning for this property.
Looking up 11th St., we see a construction fence
Fence at Green Street too
Recently, a reader noticed that a construction fence had gone up around the building. With that knowledge, we were inspired to check public record, and we discovered that Independence Press LLC purchased the property earlier this year for $3M. We'd wager that these were the high bidders at the aforementioned auction. And considering the fact that the property was previously being marketed for over $7M, we'd say they got some pretty solid value. With remediation and interior demolition already done, that perspective is only reinforced.