It seems like once a year or so, the old Frankford Chocolate Factory at 2101 Washington Ave. creeps into our consciousness for a minute and then recedes back to the status of "we wonder what's happening with that place." For a detailed history of the building, we suggest you read this story from Hidden City. To summarize, much of the structure was built in the 1860s for a wallpaper factory. Later, it housed the American Can Company and for more than half of the 20th century it was used as a warehouse for John Wanamaker. Frankford Candy, known for their production of chocolate rabbits, came onto the scene in the 1970s and actively used the building until a little less than ten years ago.
Since then, the building has sat vacant.
Frankford Chocolate Factory
Developer Tran Dinh Truong bought the property in 2007 and came up with a redevelopment plan in 2009 which the ZBA shot down. Another effort to redevelop the property, this time in cooperation with architects Campbell Thomas, got approval in 2012. But Truong passed away only a couple months later, and the project didn't move forward without him.
We last visited the Chester A. Arthur school on the 2000 block of Catharine Street about a year and a half ago, when local parent group Friends of Chester Arthur (FoCA) raised the funds necessary to construct a seating area around the school's playground. Incidentally, FoCA was integral in getting said playground built in the first place. Needless to say, the playground and the seating area both get plenty of use during school hours and beyond.
Current view of the Arthur Playground
For their next trick, FoCA plans to leverage a large grant from the Water Department to transform the rest of the schoolyard from a barren asphalt lot into a green space for students and the rest of the community. And they need your help! Earlier this week, FoCA and landscape architects Salt Design Studio hosted a meeting at the school to discuss different variations of a plan to green the schoolyard. Salt is especially qualified for this task, as they've been working with the Lea School for the last several years on the now-progressing Greening Lea project. At the meeting, they presented these three concepts for the schoolyard:
Most of the parks in this town have been around for quite some time. Rittenhouse Square dates back to the age of William Penn's greene country towne. Capitolo Playground, across from Pat's and Geno's, is a much newer green space and still dates back to the 1950s. So it's rare that we get to see a park born in Philadelphia but that's exactly what's happening right now on the northwest corner of 17th & Carpenter. We first told you about plans for Carpenter Green over two years ago when it was far from a sure thing, but if you visit the site today you can see that it is most assuredly happening.
View from the north
View from the south
We were able to snag an overhead plan for the park from SOSNA, with the promise that a rendering will be provided as soon as one exists.
Over the last couple of years though, there have been some significant changes to this block of South Street West. PHS turned the aforementioned vacant lot into a pop-up garden last year and it was so successful that they brought it back again this summer. And as we first told you about two years ago, the former Jerk Hut lot is getting redeveloped.
Technically, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood only has one true public green space, and that's Julian Abele Park, located on 22nd Street between Montrose and Carpenter. This park was founded a few years ago and provides a sliver of grass and trees for the community, also hosting concerts, birthday parties, and other neighborhood events. In the early morning light, it's a pretty and peaceful space.
Early morning view of the park
2132 Montrose St. sits immediately adjacent to the park and has been the object of countless discussions over the years. As the park was coalescing, it was a nuisance property. Around 2011, developer and former restaurateur Ilkur Ugur purchased the property, got rid of the problem tenants, and made some exterior improvements to the property. It's around that time that the mural that we see today arrived on the scene.