The better to take your money, my dearie

If you're a poker fan you'll soon have 24-hour options in town, as Sugarhouse broke ground on its $154M expansion last month. The new expansion will more than double the square footage of the casino, and almost double the size of the gaming floor as well. That means almost new slots, new table games, and a dedicated poker room. We first told you about revised plans for the expansion last April right before they were scheduled to be reviewed by the State Gaming Board.

Not the Revel
Construction activity

The expansion, designed by Cope Linder Architects, will occur north of the current site at Frankford & Delaware Ave. and is void of the hotel originally promised to be included during an expansion. It will include a multi-purpose room with waterfront views and a seven-story garage will abut the almost hotel looking exterior and add a little over five-hundred new spaces. There's also space for four new waterfront restaurants (two of which are already spoken for), and a reserved space for a ballroom complex with riverfront views that is scheduled for a later phase. A wedding or bar-mitzvah at Sugarhouse? Maybe some day.

Developer wants to reuse a church?!?

Passing by the former East Baptist Church at 1236 E. Columbia Ave., you wouldn't think twice about it. It's a nice looking building architecturally, though it looks like it needs a little TLC. If you live nearby though, you know the building has been vacant for years, ever since the non-profit that owned it went bankrupt. According to a two-year old thread on, neighbors were trying to get the property forced to sheriff's sale, and they apparently succeeded last summer. Metal Green Inc purchased the building for $385K- much less than the asking price of $1.4M when the propertly was listed for sale back in 2008.

Old church on Columbia Ave.

Yesterday, a reader gave us the heads up that they received a notification letter from the property owners regarding an upcoming RCO meeting about the property. According to the letter, the developers intend to convert the building into fifteen apartment units. They need a zoning variance because the 7,200 sqft property is inappropriately zoned for a single family home. If the property were zoned for multi-family, they would be allowed sixteen units by right, so asking for fifteen units seems completely appropriate. We imagine that they will get some near neighbor pushback due to a lack of parking, but parking just isn't possible for this site if they're saving the building.

And it's looking good

A couple of years ago, developers built "The Nine" on Tulip Street in Fishtown, across the street from Memphis Flats. At the time, the nine new LEED certified homes improved the block significantly by replacing some vacant lots, but a large vacant warehouse at the corner of Palmer Street still dragged things down. Once home to the REACH baseball factory, the warehouse looked like all kinds of dreck. But a little more than two years ago, we got word that a renovation could get underway; and last summer we learned that a renovation with a conversion into thirty apartments was definitely on the horizon.

In the past

We passed by the former factory earlier this week and discovered a project very much in the throes of redevelopment. Graffitti has been washed away, formerly cinderblocked window openings have been reopened, and attractive new windows are being installed. The brickwork also looks like it's gotten received some attention. It's a tasteful project being undertaken by Domani Developers with design work by Cecil Baker + Partners.

A great fence will be lost

Three new homes should be on the way in Fishtown at Thompson & Colona, a corner we brought to your attention last year. Back then, we showed you a long vacant home with ivy-like sideburns on it sides wall and an enormous overgrown side yard with a fancy and flowery fence. 

A year ago

When we wrote about 1244 E Colona St. last summer, the property was under contract. It officially sold last November for $149K. Since then the overgrown yard has been trimmed, and recently developers appeared before the Fishtown Neighbors Association, which supported plans to demolish the building, create three lots from one and build a single-family home on each, making for three in all. Two of the homes will have garages.

A prelude to a hotel?

Earlier this summer, we spotted scaffolding at 1224 Frankford Ave., a building that's been sitting vacant for several years. In its previous lives it served as an ice storage building, a brewery, and a pickle factory, and we've speculated that it could eventually become a boutique hotel. But for the moment, the scaffolding is only meant to restore the brick and repair the facade.

Scaffolding still there

Last week, the building's eyesore status was severely challenged when the Mural Arts Program recruited a famous guy to muralize its north face. Shepard Fairey is the guy who made the Obama "HOPE" portrait that you've probably seen once or twice, and he also made the "Obey Giant" stickers that still make the rounds decades after they first appeared. His Wikipedia page is long; this guy's a big deal. Last Friday, the first of three planned Philadelphia murals from Fairey was dedicated on Frankford Avenue, titled Lotus Diamond.