We were traveling across South Philadelphia the other day and spotted some construction projects on the 500 and 600 blocks of McKean Street, an unsurprising sight given some other development we've seen in this neck of the woods in recent years. On the 500 block, two lots at 537 and 539 McKean St. had been sitting vacant for many years and are now seeing a pair of homes rise. These homes will have some nice balconies on the upper floors, giving them a different look than the standard new construction home you'll see around town.
Two new homes on the 500 block
On the very next block, two more homes are under construction. At 606 McKean St., the same developers working on the homes on the 500 block are building another home. This is pretty clear based on the architectural similarities of the three homes. At 602 McKean St., V2 Properties is staking claim to yet another project in this area, where they've already built a ton of homes. It's clear that the home is being built by V2 both because that's what it says on public record and a sign in the window of the new home says as much.
After unsuccessful stints as a real estate agent, a car salesman, and a mall santa, 'ol Gil finally found a business that worked for him, holding down the southwest corner of 11th & McKean for several years with a successful wholesaling business. Many businesses and organizations patronized Gil's Wholesale, getting their fix of candy, ice cream, paper goods, and of course, cigars. A few months ago though, Gil's Wholesale moved its business to Glenolden. Maybe it was parking challenges, or perhaps the lure of lower taxes that led to the move. But what we're left with is clear, a large and currently vacant building.
We've had a bit of a fixation with the property at 1804 E. Passyunk Ave., first writing about it five years ago, encouraging anybody and everybody to lease the large property in the heart of the Passyunk Avenue commercial corridor. The building had been home to a pharmacy for years, first housing a Rite Aid and then the Passyunk Pharmacy, and then it sat empty for half a decade. We were incredibly cheered a little over a year ago, when an escape room business called Escape the 1980s took over the space, not only because it brought us back to the halcyon days of our childhood, but also because it meant a new type of business joining the fray on Passyunk. And apparently Philadelphia has enough children of the 80s / fans of big hair and retro video games, as the business has successfully made it past its first anniversary.
The South Philly Food Co-op has spent several years organizing and recruiting member-owners with the goal of opening a grocery store in ('natch) South Philadelphia. More recently, the leaders of this organization have been actively searching for a location for the co-op, working to find a relatively inexpensive space that is large enough, convenient to member-owners, and has good access to public transportation. This process has taken a couple of years, but the Co-op has at last signed a lease on a space that will house the grocery store the membership has dreamt about for so long. The store will be located at 2031 S. Juniper St., a building we probably should have covered before.
In the past
The building today
Developers bought this building in 2014, paying $300K for the 4,500 sqft property. As you can see, they've replaced a two story warehouse with a three story mixed-use building and that building has 3,400 sqft of retail space on the first floor and 8 apartments upstairs. While the block itself isn't much to speak of, its location half a block off of Broad Street and less than a block from Passyunk Avenue will make it very attractive for people coming from many parts of South Philly (and frankly other parts of town too as it's close to the Broad Street Line).
As Passyunk Avenue has flourished, the surrounding neighborhood hasn't seen as much development as you might expect, due at least in part to the fact that there was relatively little blight or vacancy on the blocks. On the southern end of the neighborhood close to Snyder Avenue though, some underutilized properties present an opportunity for residential redevelopment for creative developers. At 2015 S. Hutchinson St., that's exactly what's on tap, probably.