Earlier this century, builders constructed some truly impressive buildings on South Broad Street. Many have since been demolished, but those that remain are a testament to another age. Take, for example, the former bank building on the northeast corner of Broad & Snyder. A couple of years ago, Beneficial Bank sold the property to developers. Interestingly, it was the Beneficial Saving Fund Society, a previous iteration of the bank, that built the building in 1927. It's amazing to think that the same company occupied the space for 85 years.
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?