Lily on Christian Will Fill New Gap Next to Old Banca Calabrese

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster year for the properties on the southeast corner of 7th & Christian, but the thrills are now over and the ride looks like it’ll be fairly boring from here on out. In the spring, we drew your attention to this location, pointing out that the building at the corner was built in the early 1900s as the home of Banca Calabrese. The bank folded during the Great Depression, but its building has survived to the present day, though the years have stripped it of many of its original details. A couple doors down was the the birthplace of Mario Lanza, a famous tenor from South Philly. Despite the history of these buildings, neither was designated as historic, so it was not a surprise to learn that developers had bought the properties, intended to tear them down, and replace them with seven town homes with parking.

In the past

The community was not interested in this plan, and Bella Vista Neighbors Association wrote a lengthy opposition letter to the ZBA. In the face of this reaction, the developers pivoted to a new plan. Over the summer, we discovered rehab work ongoing at the Banca Calabrese building, which was a pretty good indication that it wasn’t getting torn down. We learned that the developers had decided to preserve the former bank and refashion it into a small mixed-use building. They didn’t have a clear plan for the adjacent properties, though demolition was still very much in the cards. Today, the bank building is looking much better than it did before (but not nearly as good as it looked when it was first built), and there’s a sizable vacant lot next door.

Banca Calabrese building, looking rehabbed
Site next door

There’s a sign posted on the fence in front of the vacant lot, indicating that the developers have decided what they’re going to do here. That plan, unsurprisingly, will proceed by-right, and will entail the construction of a quartet of triplexes whose units will be offered for sale as condos. Lily Development, the developer in question, is calling the project Lily on Christian, and was kind enough to include a rendering on their Instagram feed. The rendering shows some sharp new condo buildings, if you ask us.

Project rendering

Considering the project that’s now moving forward, we have to wonder whether the neighbors that opposed the original plan are pleased with how things ended up. The original proposal called for seven homes with ten parking spaces, and now the developers are building twelve new units, plus the apartments in the bank building, with no parking. We’re all for density, and from an urbanist perspective, the elimination of a curb cut is a plus for walkability and eyes on the street. But we don’t live near here, so don’t have to deal with the parking repercussions or any other quality of life issues from this project. If given a mulligan, would the community take a different stance? Or do the neighbors truly prefer condos to the alternative? If you live in the area, please chime in!

  • James Goodwin

    By right and watch the RCO choke on their words. What the RCO doesn’t get is that there are people who will do without a car and live in that new unit or apartment. At least something good will be built to give the old bank some shine and luster.

    • chris

      Agreed. I love to see nice development stick it to the neighbors who block anything good that comes to the neighborhood for whatever idiotic reasons they believe.

  • FrancisvilleMgmt

    For what reason did the RCO object to the original plan?

  • PreserveNicePhiladelphiaBldgs

    Design in the rendering looks really good.

  • CH^2D

    The bank looks good, the new rendering looks good. Considering the kind of new construction we often get, that’s all we can ask for.

  • Major Raja

    Great design, nice to see.

  • Nate Hammitt

    My wife and I live at the corner and we’re fans of the latest design (white brick trend much?)
    The bank building rehab turned out great minus the fiber panel siding and kitchen exhaust. Glad to see the new design removed parking requirements – this portion of Christian St is overloaded with dead-porch curb-cuts and could use more life on the street. Especially this close to John’s Water Ice and Fleisher.