Naked Philly

Framing well underway

Months ago, we told you about plans for seventeen new homes on the 800 blocks of Lawrence and Orkney Streets in Northern Liberties. Back then, the warehouse that was once home to Marcis Wire Works had just been demolished at 812-32 N. Lawrence St., and a snow covered pile of rubble foretold better things. If you visit the site today, however, the rubble is as long gone as the snow. Instead, nine homes fronting Orkney Street have been framed out.

Construction moving along. Image from the company that did the project website.

The homes will be large and fancy, according to the project website (like it would say otherwise!). Look for 2,600 to 3,000 sqft of living space with home widths between nineteen and twenty-one feet. Each home will also have rear-access, two-car parking, accessed via a curb cut on Lawrence Street. No idea how that will work when the Lawrence Street homes get built as the second phase of the project, but it won't be an issue long-term. Look for the first run of homes to finish in the spring. Check out these renderings, which are a different look than the renderings we showed by before.

Old signage comes back

About a year and a half ago, a store called Momoyo opened at the corner of 20th & Brandywine, specializing in bubble tea, fro yo, and oddly, dog treats. Then the business got closed down, ostensibly due to a zoning problem. They reopened in the spring, and installed some funky panels on the storefront, revealing some nice-looking old signage in the process. 

As the panels were being installed

We passed by last week, pondering a bubble tea, and discovered the store to be closed and the paneling removed. Now, the storefront looks like we suspect it did many years ago. Probably better, even.

Recent view

The owners of the business tried to sell their establishment earlier this year for $150K before slashing the sale price to $65K. It seems they found no buyers are were forced to shut their doors. Does anyone in the neighborhood have any insight into what happened here? Was business just not strong enough to sustain the place? Did the paneling, or rather the violation due to the fact that it didn't fit into the context of the historic district, sink the business? Or is there something else going on here?

Replaces awful garage

It seems like the area near One Shot Cafe has been a major construction zone forever. The Stables project, which will eventually include dozens of new construction homes, started a couple of years ago and recently came back to life in a big way after a lengthy lull. The building immediately to the north, 1109 N. American St., was previously an ugly garage until it went under construction last year.

In the past

Remember, we told you that it would be converted into a salon and an apartment, though we didn't know what it look like. Passing by recently, we noticed it was finished. Now we know what it looks like and we must say the warehousey look is a massive improvement.

Gosh it's taken awhile

Fifteen years ago, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood was home to over a thousand vacant properties. In the years since, all but a small handful have been renovated by developers or simply demolished and replaced by new construction. It was a little less than a year ago that we brought one of the few vacant properties in the neighborhood to your attention, the long blighted 923 S. 23rd St.

Last year

Last October, we shared the good news that developers had purchased the property, which had been cited (appropriately) with Doors & Windows violations, and there were plans to demolish what was left of the building and replace it with a duplex. This surely came as fabulous news to near neighbors who have had to deal with a backless house on their block for many years. The previous owners, in a failed renovation project, tore down the back wall and stopped work soon after. But despite the apparent efforts from the new owners to start work on the property, nothing seemed to be happening. Until recently.

Current shot

In July, the owners finally got their demolition permits to tear down this eyesore. And that's just what they did, making the front of the property match the back. Look for construction to get going soon on a project that we would still wager will include condos. Not that rentals versus condos means much to the neighbors- we just imagine they're happy to finally see a positive change at this property. It's about time.

A really nice addition

Back in August, we told you that Lea Elementary School at 47th & Locust was getting a new playground, or rather a newish playground by way of the now-closed Wilson School. At the time, Greening Lea was working to raise $3,000 to cover additional project costs, including insurance and security. That effort didn't take long, as they met their goal in less than a week when the Spruce Hill Community Association pledged $1,000 to the effort, joining several other individuals in the neighborhood.

This morning, a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the completion of this project, which also includes a new play surface under the playground that had been here previously. That play surface eliminates 4,400 sqft of impervious surface in the schoolyard. Check out this image to see the old and new playgrounds, together with the new squishy play surface.

Recent view

Of course, this doesn't represent the end of the Greening Lea process. Far from it. A much larger (and costlier) effort is on the books for after this school year. When that's finished, the Lea schoolyard should look something like this: