Francisville

Exciting mixed-use project is planned

On Ridge Avenue, it's no secret that it's been a rough go for years between Broad Street and Girard Avenue when it comes to blight, vacancy, and old dilapidated buildings. But of late, there's been renewed optimism for Ridge thanks to projects large and small. At Broad Street, the mythic Divine Lorraine finally seems like it will spring back to life in the next couple of years with construction ongoing. Nearby, the JBJ Soul Homes were finished last year, filling a large lot that's been vacant for a long time. Smaller projects have dotted Ridge Avenue as you head toward Girard.

And more are planned, like the plans to construct a mixed-use three-story building on a currently vacant parcel at 1608-12 Ridge Ave., with 14-units above a ground-floor commercial space. Next door, an even bigger project is in the works.

Course changes for a building

In Francisville, Ridge Ave is slowly turning around. Let us say it again, that redevelopment along Ridge in Francisville is happening, consistently, it seems, but slowly. Near Broad Street, the JBJ Soul Homes development from Project H.O.M.E. represents the largest development on the corridor, but there are several smaller projects coming online deeper in the neighborhood. And more are on the way.

Perhaps now is the time for 1608 Ridge Ave. to transform from a vacant lot into a mixed-use building with commercial on the ground floor and 14 apartments above. We first told you about the plans, which included a community center on the ground floor, complete with a rendering from Harman Deutsch, about a year and half ago.

Progress coming soon?

North Broad Street south of Temple has improved dramatically in recent years, despite the presence of two enormous blighted buildings. But times are changing. As you're surely well aware by now, renovation efforts are finally underway at the near mythic Divine Lorraine at Broad & Fairmount. And two autumns ago, the Inquirer reported that Eric Blumenfeld, the guy who's fixing up the Divine Lorraine, would likewise be working on the old Metropolitan Opera House at Broad & Poplar. When it opened in 1908, the Met was the world's largest theater of its kind, with a capacity of four-thousand.

A long dormant block is making a comeback

For many years, the 1600 block of Ogden Street was a vast vacant wasteland. A number of City-owned lots sprinkled among privately owned lots combined with an a stunted Ridge Avenue made developing the block a challenge to say the least. And so it sat.

But as Francisville has seen considerable investment in recent years, with Ridge Avenue slowly pulling itself up, and with some City agencies selling off lots on this block to developers, we've started to see some real progress. Last year, a string of three duplexes sprouted on the block's north side. Passing by the other day, we spied formwork for the foundation for a fourth duplex. This is coming from the same developer that built the others.

North side of the 1600 block

The vacancy on the south side of this block was only broken recently when a four-story, two-sided building started construction. That building will soon be joined by two more duplexes on which work just began. It's different developers than the duplexes on the north side, so expect the buildings to look a little different.

Hilarious vacancy thanks to the City

We got a tip the other day about some new construction on the 800 block of N. 15th Street. Because it's what we do, we decided we'd check it out, remembering a couple of other projects on this block that we'd covered in the past. When we visited the site, we did indeed discover a new building getting framed out at 823 N. 15th St.

Framed out with vacancy on both sides

Developers purchased the parcel at the end of last year and got zoning approval for a four story triplex in April. Will the units be rentals? Condos? Who knows.

Taking a few steps back, you can see that the triplex is going up in a sea of vacant land. There's four vacant lots to the south and another five to the north. Across the street, it's basically a soccer pitch.

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