East Passyunk

Amazingly, not another restaurant for Passyunk Avenue

Some retail spaces in town have sat vacant for so long, we'd swear they're cursed. Or maybe they're just overpriced. Either way, it's always extremely exciting for us when we see a long empty space find a tenant at last. It's like when your chronically single friend finally couples up. So it's truly our pleasure to share the news that 1804 E. Passyunk Ave., formerly a Rite Aid, formerly the Passyunk Pharmacy, and vacant for close to a decade, is occupied at last. Remember, we first brought this property to your attention almost four years ago.

Escape the 1980s!

Perhaps you'd think, given the location and the ever-growing roster of eateries in the area, that a shmancy restaurant would have leased this space. Or maybe a clothing boutique? Or a cross-fit gym? All of those guesses are decent but way off base.

If only the bank next door were a restaurant

Last year, the William Penn Foundation provided the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation with a half-million dollar grant to revitalize the southern end of Passyunk Avenue, where it hits Broad & McKean Streets. There's this weird triangular patch of sidewalk in front of the United Savings Bank which was actually enlarged a few years ago to create a sizable "public" space that was just kind of there, not really fulfilling any function.

In the past

PARC decided to take this odd space and transform it into a "Gateway" to Passyunk Avenue. Original plans called for new lighting, some seating, a fountain element, a pergola, and a bikeshare station. As is sometimes the case with public projects of this ilk, budgetary constraints resulted in some delays and changes to the plan, according to Passyunk Post. Though the project was announced in the spring of 2014, work didn't get started until this past spring. The official ribbon cutting was about a week ago, so we figured it would be a nice idea to swing by on a quiet morning and take in the new space with our own eyes.

Wonderful building would make for an interesting home

Even though we once lived just a few blocks away, we somehow never encountered 808-10 Morris St., a handsome old building that was once home to the Engine 10 Fire Company. According to legeros.com, the building was constructed in 1874 and was home to the fire company until 1953, when they moved to their current location on 12th Street between Wharton and Reed. Thankfully, the building has survived for more than half a century since its original use was discontinued.

The building

As for what happened to the building between the 1950s and the 1990s, we surely don't know. We can tell you that in the last fifteen years or so, the building has gone through some drama, changing hands repeatedly. The original garage opening has been partially filled in, with steps leading up to a door. Sometime between 1998 and 2009, one of the owners converted the building into a single-family home but they weren't able to finish the job. In 2010, the finished product was listed for $525K but the owners never did finish the construction. In 2012, new investors stepped in and listed the building back on the market in 2014. Today, there's a dreaded Stop Work Order on the front door.

Tear it down and build a house or make it a loft

We're always on the lookout for interesting development opportunities around town. And while a lone garage on the corner of 7th & Fernon isn't as exciting as, say, the Frankford Chocolate Factory, it could still represent an interesting property for the right person.

The building

Heading to Center City from Souh Philly the other day, we came upon 1613 S. 7th St., whose owners opted for an ominous spray paint sign to deter people from blocking their driveway. The property is 16' wide by 64' deep, and the building currently covers the entire parcel, as you can see above. The block of Fernon Street is all two-story homes, and up 7th Street is a mix of three story homes and a smattering of retail.

Looking up 7th Street

The property is listed for just under $180K at the moment, which seems a little high for a wide open garage in South Philly. A developer could come forward and demolish the garage and build a new home on the corner. The listing suggests that it could also be a fit for artists looking for loft space. Alternately and perhaps least optimally, the space could remain as is and store food trucks or something like that.

New restaurant coming soon, new building sometime later

Our last official visit to the corner(s) of 12th & Morris & Passyunk came back in July. We say that because we've unofficially visited several times since, enjoying tasty food and beverage at Cantina and Birra. Soon enough, those places will have some company. Remember, El Zarape left their space at the beginning of this year because of escalating rent, and the guys from Cheu Noodle Bar will be opening a place called Bing Bing Dim Sum. According to Michael Klein, they're looking to open their doors in January.