The 1800 block of E. Passyunk Ave. is seeing some action of late, and there's still room for more. At 1805-09 E. Passyunk Ave., the Saint Jude Shop closed its doors last summer and has sat empty for about a year. When we passed by earlier today though, we spied brown paper in the windows signifying a possible new tenant. According to a Passyunk Post story from last month, early intelligence says that a dance studio will be taking over the space, and there will be a retail element as well.
Former Saint Jude shop
Just down the street, Chhaya Cafe, neighborhood treasure and maker of tasty waffles, has moved to a new and larger location. This move shouldn't make things too tough for their regular customers, as they've moved two doors down to 1819 E. Passyunk Ave., formerly home to a store called Sweet Alyssa. Though there isn't elaborate ironwork outside anymore, the new space is much roomier than their previous spot and can only mean good things for business moving forward. Gotta love all that frontage.
In both real estate and the restaurant business, it seems like delays are the name of the game. So when a new restaurant relies on a new building to get built, it should come as no surprise when things move a little more slowly than anyone would like. After all, development plans take time. Permitting is complicated. Financing is a real challenge. And let's not even get started on how tough it's become to demolish something in this town.
Last week, we gave you some details on the old Smith School in Point Breeze, which is currently being offered for sale along with a bunch of other shuttered schools around town. Today we look at the former Edward Bok Technical High School, located at 8th & Mifflin. It represents a very different opportunity than that offered by the Smith School. It also has its share of challenges.
View of the school from the south
The school was built between 1935 and 1938, according to Wikipedia, and was designed by Irwin Catharine. Its construction was part of the Public Works Administration, created as part of the New Deal. Built as a vocational school, Bok taught bricklayers, hair dressers, tailors, carpenters, and other tradespeople over the years. In more recent years, the program at Bok shifted to educate kids in a more well-rounded way, but specialization remained the m.o. here until the school closed last summer.
About a decade ago, we moved into a house a block away from Pat's and set upon exploring our new neighborhood. We quickly discovered and fell in love with a new bar called Pub on Passyunk East, which had just opened its doors at Passyunk & Dickinson. And it wasn't too long after that Cantina Los Caballitos opened a few blocks down the Avenue. Over the following years, we saw dramatic changes on Passyunk Avenue as commerce exploded, with new businesses opening all over the place between Dickinson and McKean Streets. Today, Passyunk Avenue is a vibrant commercial corridor, and it makes the surrounding neighborhood a wonderful place to live.
If you're so inclined, you can now join in on the fun, though we'd be hard pressed to say you'd be getting in on the ground floor.
A biggie for sale
1701 E. Passyunk Ave. is home to Interior Concepts, a furniture store. As you might imagine would be the case with a furniture store, the building is quite large, with frontage on both Passyunk Avenue and 12th Street. It's currently on the market for $2.2M, which we recognize is a pretty penny. But when you consider the redevelopment possibilities here, with commercial on the first floor and three stories of apartments above, the price seems like it could be somewhere in the range. Still, it would likely require an experienced developer to put together a project that works financially and would be supported by the community. Are you that experienced developer?
Every few months, we get another email from a reader wondering about 1842 S. 9th St., a mixed-use building on the northwest corner of 9th & Mifflin. This property seems to have apartments on the upper floors and surely had a business on the first floor once upon a time. We couldn't tell you whether the apartments are occupied but we're pretty confident that the retail space lacks a tenant.
This building once must have looked amazing and could one day look great again. The light colored brick provides a very unique look in this or any other neighborhood. The bay still has wonderful details, though it badly needs a paint job. Ditto the cornice. The storefront, with some large new windows, could provide a bright and open look at a retail space. The same folks have owned the property since the late 1980s, so unfortunately it seems unlikely that any change will come as long as they continue to own the place. That being said, change could be coming soon nearby.