Something coming to the former Rita's?

Not only is Rybrew a great place to grab a tasty sandwich and a beer, but it's also a great place to get work done if, like us, you're a blogger about town. Looking out the front of this business on the 2800 block of W. Girard Ave., we see a stretch of a commercial corridor that's continuing to evolve.

Several coffee shops have cycled through the retail space at 2831 W. Girard Ave., but the Monkey & the Elephant Cafe might be the place that finally sticks. We also noticed that some construction activity was taking place at the former Rita's next door, a business that closed in 2014 after a security gate tragically fell on and killed a 3-year-old. Permits indicate, unfortunately, that these construction efforts aren't a sign a new tenant, just upkeep on a building that's not in great condition.

Replacing vacant lots

Just the other day, we mentioned that MM Partners had purchased the former liquor store on the 2500 block of W. Girard Ave. and were planning a full renovation and hunting for some new commercial tenants. Somehow, snapping the photos for this story, we managed to ignore some additional construction taking place right across the street. For many years 2536 and 2538 W. Girard Ave. sat vacant, serving from time to time as somebody's parking spot. But today, both are seeing new triplexes rise with one of the buildings several months ahead of the other.

Brewerytown could certainly benefit from many new businesses

If you're looking for a large commercial space on an up-and-coming commercial corridor, 2511 W. Girard Ave. might be the place for you. This building, which sits across the street from Girard College at the corner of W. College Ave. and W. Girard Ave., was occupied for many years by a liquor store, which closed last year when the new one opened on 31st Street north of Girard Avenue. The building offered a nice convenience for the booze-seeking public, as it had a beer distributor right next door. Alas.

What was it in the past?

From Independence Hall to the two-story row home at the end of your block, every building in Philadelphia has some history to it. For any building that has any historical significance or looks a little unique, someone has probably done some research on it and published some information that can be found through a perfunctory web search. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case for the one-story stone building at 2800 W. Thompson St.

Building at the corner

Looking at historical maps, there was a church here once upon a time called the Sanctuary Methodist Church. We wonder whether the building that we see today is the original structure that stood here or perhaps more likely, a remnant of a more impressive building that didn't last through the years. A few years ago, when MM Partners built the North 28 project just to the south, this building was sitting vacant. But today the Celestial Tabernacle Holiness Church of God is making a home in the building and the formerly vacant building next door. They were previously located in a building down the street, and nearly lost their property at sheriff's sale for a $900 delinquency a few years ago. But it appears they've sold their old building to developers, as it's now been demolished. Thankfully, they didn't have to move very far.

All the old homes look alike

As Brewerytown hit incredibly hard times over the last few decades, many blocks in the neighborhood fell into serious disrepair, with several experiencing wholesale demolition of vacant properties in the interest of public safety and blight removal. The 1200 block of N. Etting St. is an excellent example of this phenomenon, though it's finally seeing some new development after years of vacancy. Some blocks, though, have remained amazingly intact, like the 2900 block of W. Flora Street.

Looking west on Flora St.

This block is not only impressive for maintaining almost all of its original housing stock, but also because the homes on both sides of the street were seemingly designed by the same individual, as they all feature similar architectural details. One exception is the three story double-wide Humble Tabernacle of Love church in the middle of the block, which possesses some unique architectural features (sweet cornice!) and rises a story above all the other structures on the block. Incidentally, there's a new home under construction next door. That property, 2923 W. Flora St. was previously a two story home that matched its neighbors but had clearly been sitting vacant for many years.