Chinatown

What's going on here?

In February of 2012, we mentioned 932 Arch St. as an aside in a story about a project across the street. At that time, the property, which has a hair salon on the first floor, had received a five-story cinderblock addition. Previously, this was just a very deep one-story building.

Back in 2009

When the property owners went to the ZBA back in 2011, they got permission for a six-story addition, with twenty apartments on the upper floors, office space on the second floor, and commercial space on the first. Seems like an innocuous enough project, no? But something is amiss here and we can't quite put our finger on it. Prior to their presenting to the ZBA, the owners got a boatload of violations which have all been cleared. Perhaps those violations led to the project going before the ZBA in the first place. Soon after getting approvals, the addition went up and by the time we wrote about it way back when, the construction seemed to be moving along at an appropriate pace. But something has happened in the two and a half years since. Well, scratch that. Actually nothing has happened, at least from what we can tell.

Should get moving soon

We produce so much content here at Naked Philly, sometimes we forget what we've covered and what we haven't. When a reader checked in recently with a rendering for an affordable housing building at 810 Arch St., we couldn't believe we hadn't heard about it. And then we realized that we actually had heard about it. And we'd written about it. Twice. Oops.

Throughout its history, 219 N. Broad St. has been closely tied to the always-shifting identity of its surrounding area, beginning with its role in the industrialization of Philadelphia.  The image below, taken from G.M. Hopkins’ 1875 Philadelphia Atlas shows that the property was owned by one M.A. Robertson.

The property of M.A. Robertson, 1875

While we aren’t certain what Robertson did during his occupancy, we know that by 1895, the location had become a flour & grain depot.  So denotes the image here below, taken from G.W. Bromley’s Philadelphia Atlas.

Some of facade will remain

About a month ago, we brought the historic building at 230 N. 13th St. to your attention, noting that it was available for sale. We shared some of its history, as NFL Films used the building as its inaugural offices, and Big Brothers Big Sisters was headquartered here for decades until a recent move to Texas. We predicted a mid-rise building would eventually land here, either replacing or incorporating the Art Moderne-style structure designed by William Harold Lee. Man, does it feel good when we're right.

If you like old buildings and such

Everyone loves the NFL (willfully ignoring the world outside of the US). Everyone loves Big Brothers Big Sisters. In Philadelphia, we can look at both through the lens of a historic building.

Football is the most popular sport in America. One of the reasons this sport has grown in popularity and maintained its position on top of the proverbial heap is the work of the people at NFL Films. This company records football games, edits them down, sets the highlights to dramatic music, and adds narration to create an almost cinematic experience for viewers. They started doing their thing in 1965, a mere five years after the Eagles won their last championship. Back then, they were based at 230 N. 13th St., mere steps from the not-yet Vine Street Expressway.

The building

By the 1980s, NFL Films moved to South Jersey and Big Brothers Big Sisters purchased the building. For years, it served as the national headquarters for this wonderful organization, which connects children with adults who want to make a difference in their lives. Last year, Big Brothers Big Sisters made the decision to move their national office to Texas, which means their old home is now available for sale.

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