We moved to South Philly a little less than a decade ago and quickly discovered a new Mexican place at 12th & Passyunk & Morris called Cantina Los Caballitos. As the years have passed, this intersection has seen all kinds of change. El Zarape has come and gone, with the excellent Bing Bing Dim Sum taking its place. Doggie Style has moved to the south to make way for Birra. A double-wide building at the northwest corner of 12th & Morris, previously home to Artisan Boulanger Patissier, has been demolished, and a new building has arrived in its place. Neighborhood stalwart Interior Concepts has closed, and to the south, A Man's Image will soon move to a smaller location.
Bing Bing Dim Sum
Now let's look to the future, shall we? The clearest situation can be found at 1709 E. Passyunk Ave., home to A Man's Image for the last sixty years. According to Michael Klein, a Spanish wine and tapas restaurant called Barcelona is slated for the space, and this will be the fourteenth location for this small chain owned by Barteca. With a 4,400 sqft space, Barcelona will be one of the largest restaurants on Passyunk Avenue. Of course, a space across the street could present a challenge to that title.
We got our car inspected yesterday at a delightful place called Cona Motor on Juniper Street, just a block off of Passyunk Avenue. So we took the opportunity to walk around the neighborhood despite the continuous drizzle. And during this walk, we happened upon some new construction at 1840 S. Camac St., located next door to a cool building that houses an auto shop and a boxing gym.
Auto shop on the corner of Camac & Moore
Current view next door on Camac Street
Until a couple of years ago, this site was home to a large building that housed Mancini Catering. The new construction is clearly an upgrade over what was here previously.
It's been a long road for 1843 E. Passyunk Ave., for decades home to King of Jeans. We first brought this property to your attention back in the summer of 2011, announcing that it was listed for sale but noting that the price was too high and the triangular shape of the parcel could present challenges for a future developer.
We miss ya, buddy
Within a year, a developer had come forward (at a lower price than asking) with a plan to demolish the building and build twelve apartments with first-floor commercial space. Then plans changed to nine apartments, second floor office space, and first floor commercial. In 2013, Rockland Capital bought the property and proposed sixteen apartments above retail space, but that project was denied at the ZBA. After some fine tuning and efforts from the community, a revised project with twelve apartments, second floor office space, and ground floor commercial got approval from the ZBA a little less than two years ago. Finally, at the beginning of 2015, the amazing sign came down and the building followed soon after.
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.
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.