Graduate Hospital

With some sweet new windows

Back in 2007, Beauty Shop Cafe opened its doors on the northwest corner of 20th & Fitzwater. The cafe, which took over a space previously occupied by a beauty shop ('natch), became a neighborhood hangout over its six years, and had front row seats as a hundred year old church was demolished across the street and ultimately replaced by six new homes. Last spring, it was involved in a bizarre sale to the questionable owners of the now-shuttered Farmers' Cabinet, who operated the place for two days and then walked away from the space. It's been vacant ever since.

Earlier this year, word came out that the owners of West Philly's Gold Standard Cafe would be taking over at 20th & Fitzwater The build out took longer than one might have expected, but the Gold Standard on Fitz is finally ready to start caffeinating the neighborhood.

Homes get a facelift

The other week, we passed by Carpenter Square on 17th Street just south of Carpenter, and saw some work happening that piqued our interest. This project, in case you don't remember, has meant the construction of eleven new homes on a long vacant lot. A second phase, with a mixed-use building and a courtyard at the corner, is currently under construction. In a neighborhood for which an unattractive architectural style is named, the handsome look of this project has been a welcome break from recent history.

The homes in the past
Mixed-use phase under construction

The construction that caught our eye a few weeks back was not work on the corner, but on the homes that were finished earlier this year. It looked like the facades were being replaced. So we reached out to the developers to get the scoop.

Homes nixed on Kater Street

The Royal Theater was built almost a hundred years ago at 1524 South St. and in its heyday was a center for African American culture in Philadelphia. Since 1970 though, it's been vacant and slowly wasting away. Plans have come and gone over the years to bring the theater back to life, with the most recent coming to light last fall. At a large community meeting, Universal, which has owned the building since 2000, presented a preliminary plan to demolish the building, maintain the facade, create thirty rental apartments in a new building on South Street, and build six homes on Kater Street. Reactions were mixed at the time.

My fair lady

For years, Springfield Beer Distributor was a beacon of hope for beer lovers, sitting conveniently under the South Street bridge and willing to deliver the kegs to your door. A shiver went through the neighborhood a few years back when people learned that CHOP would be building a large facility on the eastern side of the Schuylkill and Springfield would be relocating to Oregon Avenue. And we may have heard a loud collective sigh of relief when word came out that Springfield would instead be moving to the 2200 block of Washington Avenue. We confess, we were among the relieved.

Despite Springfield making the move several months ago, their airplane-hangar-looking buildings under the bridge has remained. Until recently, that is. The buildings are now in the process of being demolished. And it looks really cool.

Demolition ongoing
Better look
Another angle

We would have to imagine that it won't be long before the metal framing also disappears, erasing the physical traces of the old beer distributor. But we'll always have the memories.

Progress a welcome sight

Chadwick Street between Catharine and Fitzwater has been a constant construction zone for five plus years. It's not so long ago that this block was pretty much desolate, with vacant lots outnumbering homes by a healthy margin. A couple of multi-home and one-off projects later, the block is all filled up. Well, there's not entirely true. The block's northern end is still unoccupied, thanks to a four-home project that's been in the works for years.

We first told you about Fitz4 after developer Metro Impact presented the project to SOSNA at the end of 2011. After that, it was radio silence for quite some time. We came back to the site last June, when foundations finally appeared on the southeast corner of Chadwick & Fitzwater. The homes were framed relatively quickly, then it seems the project stalled for months. But recently, action has resumed on the site, with brick and sheathing appearing on the three homes that got framed several months back.

Facades looking close

As a refresher, the homes, designed by Shimi Zaken of Atrium LLC, will have four bedrooms, five bathrooms, and parking. There was a pre-construction option for a car lift, but we couldn't tell you whether any of the units have one. If you can't tell from the image, the corner home has a traditional Philly rectangular row home layout and the two southern homes are square-shaped.