The rethinking of public spaces has become all the rage in Philadelphia in the last couple of years. Every spring, more parklets appear outside of popular businesses. The Porch has taken a bleak stretch of sidewalk in front of 30th Street Station and turned it into an active, programmed space. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society keeps creating pop-up gardens in prominent vacant lots. And in a couple of weeks, the triangle at 23rd Street and Grays Ferry Avenue will become the next public space, albeit on a temporary basis.
Catharine Thorn Park
For years, efforts have been in the works to take the first little section of Grays Ferry Avenue away from cars and give it to neighbors and pedestrians. With a string of businesses on one side, hopes for a great mixed-use project on the other side, and a restored historic fountain and some fantastic trees in the middle, it seems like a no brainer. And soon, after many stops and starts, a six-month trial will place to see just how well it works out.
Back in early 2013, when NextFab Studios opened at 2025 Washington Ave., we were super-stoked that the high-tech workshop would also include an in-house cafe and creperie. Sadly, things didn't work for Cafe L'Aube, and the artists, builders, and designers who do their thing at Nextfab were left to fend for themselves in the food department. In a great example of the "do it yourself" attitude of NextFab, Evan Malone, the guy who founded the place, decided to open a restaurant there instead of seeking out another tenant. It should be noted that he's also half of the team behind Rex 1516 and Jet Wine Bar on South Street West along with Jill Weber. Both are involved in the Mexican diner, dubbed Cafe Ynez, which opened its doors this week.
NextFab Studios, now featuring Mexican food!
We visited a couple of days ago, and the pair have done a bangup job. The space has been completely reimagined, and a new hood means that cooking is happening on the premises. According to a recent Zagat story, much of the interior work was done by NextFab staff members. They also have some sweet interior photos. In case you're wondering, Ynez will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week, and for brunch on weekends.
The 1400 block of Bainbridge Street has seen incredible change in the last decade. The primary driver of change on this block has been the high-end Artisan homes, which have risen in two phases over several years.
Close to Broad Street, two of the largest homes in the neighborhood have been under slow but steady construction for over a year, on a lot where a large auto garage once stood. The last time we checked in on this project, framing was just getting underway. Now, the homes are pretty much framed out.
A reader asked us on Twitter about this project, suggesting that some other sites have stated that the homes are only 1,900 sqft in size. Obviously, that ain't the case. Perhaps because they saw the conversation or maybe by total coincidence, representatives from Landmark Architecture reached out to us, clarifying some of the info for these homes. They will each have 16,000 sqft of interior space and another 4,000 sqft of deck space. The homes will have six or seven bedrooms, and eight or nine bathrooms. Amenities include parking, an au pair suite, basement basketball courts, and a swimming pool. And we got a rendering, too!