Bella Vista

Maybe a new buyer has come forward?

When US Construction built nineteen new homes on the 800 block of Christian Street a few years back, we took the opportunity to point out 820 Christian St. to everyone, wondering whether the project next door would spur the owners of the vacant property to do something with it. For whatever reason, when there was a big parking lot next door, the vacancy didn't bother us as much. Ever since the homes were built though, we've shaken our fists every time we passed by.

The view in the past
Looking east on Christian St. today
The vacant 820 Christian St.

A couple weeks back, we passed by the property and noticed a sign in one of the windows, indicating that it's available. And we made a mental note to come back, take a picture, and call the number to get the low down. We visited the property yesterday, seeking the sign, and discovered that it's gone. Perhaps this means that the owners have decided against selling it. Or else they found a buyer (or a tenant) really quickly.

Take the tour if you're around

We usually don't spotlight random homes for sale, and when we do they're usually being sold by the good people who own this website. But the other day we spied an auction sign at 758 S. 10th St. which inspired us to spend a few minutes researching the property. The place is really unique, and the fact that it's going to auction means you will be able to walk through it if you so desire.

View from outside

From this view, you'd never suspect that this home, just a few doors down from the excellent Dante & Luigi's, is in fact a mansion that's full of restored historic details. The home dates back to the 1860s and has almost 4,000 sqft of living space. This is even more surprising since it appears the basement is unfinished. According to an old listing, the first floor has a foyer, a living room, a modern kitchen, a dining room, and a garden. The second floor has two bedrooms and a sitting room. There's two more bedrooms, plus a kitchenette on the third floor. And the fourth floor has yet another bedroom and access to a deck with skyline views. In total, there are 5 bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms.

But first, some demolition!

We've always wanted to live next door to a park. And who wouldn't? We'd appreciate the natural light, the fresh air, and the sounds of children playing and dogs barking. And we're not even picky! We don't need a big park like Rittenhouse Square or Dickinson Square Park, we'd be thrilled with a smaller community park like Julian Abele or Cianfrani Park at 8th & Fitzwater.

Cianfrani Park

If you're like us and would appreciate the chance to live next to Cianfrani Park, you'll soon have the opportunity. Developers purchased 735 and 737 Pemberton St. a little over a year ago and have been working on plans to build a new home on a large lot that would combine the two properties. They went before the Bella Vista Neighbors Association several times with different variations of their plan before finally coming up with something that would get approval at the ZBA. That approval came back in June, and now they have demolition permits in hand.

Odd that these lots have been empty so long

Bella Vista has been a great place to live for decades, and vacant land tends to be scarce. So it's a bit surprising to come upon two long-vacant parcels right next to one another that are independently catching the development bug. First let's consider the more obvious property:

New framing at Passyunk & Queen

810 E. Passyunk Ave. has been used over the years as a tiny unofficial parking lot. This triangular parcel was able to accommodate two cars, maybe three if one was a Smart car. Developers bought the lot in 2013, took it to zoning, and then sold it the next year with approvals for a single-family home. The construction has progressed rather slowly, as framing has dragged on for at least a month and a half. Still, we imagine the home will be done at some point this year. Considering the shape of the lot, the inside of the home should be really unique, so let's cross our fingers that there's an open house.

Right around the corner, we see a string of vacant lots on the north side of the 600 block of Queen Street.

Some retail plus apartments

In every neighborhood, some buildings exist as leftovers, hold outs from another era. Sometimes these properties, with the proper attention, become neighborhood assets. Examples in Bella Vista include the apartments at the former De Pazzi School at 7th & Christian and the Bank of Italy building at 7th & Fitzwater, now a dry cleaners. Other buildings serve no greater purpose and seem like they're merely waiting to get redeveloped. This brings us to a small warehouse at the corner of 7th & Kater, owned by Cellini Provisions since the 1980s. Developers purchased the property earlier this year.

The property
Looking north on 7th Street

When we say that the building is serving no greater purpose, we don't mean to impugn the business that's been operating out of there for thirty years, nor are we speaking badly of the playhouse that preceded it or the carpet warehouse before that. We're just noting that a one-story, 2,200 sqft warehouse is a little out of place at this location, and there's surely a higher and better use for the property. The new owners seem to agree.