East Passyunk

Could be a development opportunity

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.

The property

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.

PARC will make sure it becomes an asset to the Avenue

Over the past couple of years, we've told you about multiple projects from the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation. This organization has been able to buy up distressed properties on or around Passyunk Avenue, fix them up, and find both residential and commercial tenants. If every neighborhood had a group like PARC, we'd surely be the envy of every major city in the nation, and we'd practically be living in a city on a hill. Sadly, PARC is the exception rather than the rule.

Now, this exceptional organization has struck again. They've purchased one of the last eyesores on Passyunk Avenue and are planing to give it their standard treatment.

It's Colombo's!

You may recall, Colombo's, located at 1934 E Passyunk Ave., caught fire at the end of the summer of 2012. Prior to the fire, Colombo's was set up as a restaurant with a liquor license and some permanent outdoor seating. But the place was barely operational, and its rough-looking exterior stood in dramatic contrast to some of the attractively renovated properties along the Avenue. A couple of years ago, we suggested that a well-conceived and properly marketed concept could thrive at this location. And with PARC's help, it seems likely that this is exactly what will happen.

All thanks to PARC and William Penn Foundation

You've probably noticed that Passyunk Avenue has experienced a dramatic transformation in the last decade. New restaurants, bars, and shops have enlivened South Philly's most famous commercial corridor and it's become a destination for locals and visitors from out of town alike. In addition, there have been many improvements to the streetscape, notably with the revitalization of the "singing foundation at Passyunk & Tasker a few years back.

The Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation has been a strong advocate for the Avenue, and has spent considerable dollars to improve it. Now, for PARC's next trick, they will be completely transforming the triangle created by the intersection of Passyunk Ave. and McKean Street into the East Passyunk Gateway. Check out the current pic versus what it will eventually look like:

Two and a half years ago, we wondered who would buy and redevelop 1843-45 E. Passyunk Ave., the longtime home of King of Jeans. A year later, we shared the news that developer Max Glass had purchased the property, and along with crowning himself the new King of Jeans, intended to convert it to twelve apartments and first-floor commercial space. The plan was later revised to nine apartments, second floor office space, and first floor commercial.

Rendering of Max Glass proposal. Image from Passyunk Post.

Over the summer, another different developer stepped in. The new developer presented a plan to the East Passyunk Crossing Zoning Committee a couple of months ago for a five-story building with 8 one-bedroom units, 8 two-bedroom units, and ground-floor commercial. We never saw renderings, but word was that the new building would resemble the final rendering from Glass, pictured above. They went to the ZBA last month, but the decision was held. Earlier this week, the ZBA came down with their decision- the application was denied.

Passing by the other day, we noticed a 'For Sale' sign on a large building on the 1800 block of S. 11th St. about a block and a half from Passyunk Avenue. Though the building looks to have gotten some work done in recent years, it seemed like a potentially interesting development opportunity.

Victorian Room

The Victorian Room is an event space and also home to the South Philly Vikings fancy brigade. According to their website, they have a hall with space for 120 as well as a full bar. Looking at the listing for the property, we quickly realized that the sign on the building doesn't apply to the banquet hall but instead applies to the two buildings to the north. 1811-13 S. 11th St. is currently listed for just under $450K and includes, according to the listing, a small commercial space, a second floor apartment, and a large amount of empty space that could ostensibly be converted into apartments. Though the space seems narrow at its entrance, it widens considerably as you move further back. Still, at such a high price, we're not sure this is the opportunity we were hoping for.