Francisville

Bad news for another vacant lot

If all the plans presented for different parcels along the 1600 block of Ridge Avenue come to fruition, it would be a transformation from corner to corner, which is something we've seen at different locations throughout Francisville the past few years (see 19th & Poplar). We recently shared plans for a mixed-use building at 1608 Ridge Ave. with ground-floor commercial and 14 apartments. And there are additional plans for 28 apartments and three commercial spaces next door, where there's now a shuttered Dollar Discount store.

Now, at the corner of 16th & Ridge, we've learned of plans to build a three-story mixed-use building with a commercial space on the first floor and bay windows on the top two floors, each of which will host one apartment. Just to the south, the same developer has gotten plans approved for a pair of quadplexes.

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.

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