Graduate Hospital

Auto shop turned furniture store turned empty space

For years, the large warehouse at 1923 Washington Ave. was home to a building supply company which included a tool rental rental place where we once snagged a floor nailer for a home improvement project. And this made sense, as Washington Avenue has been the place to go for building supplies for decades.

In the past

But if you live in the area or read this blog regularly, you know that things are slowly changing on Washington Avenue and the construction companies are starting to phase out. At some point in the last few years, the store closed down at 1923 Washington Ave., and half of the building turned into Crossfit Supercharged, which also includes an MMA gym, with the other half becoming an auto shop. Recently, the auto shop realized that they needed a variance to operate their business because of a 2015 zoning overlay restricting uses on the corridor, and rather than going through the zoning process, they opted to either relocate or close. A furniture store opened in the space about a month ago, but the store is already gone. Now, that space is available for lease.

Where you go from there is up to you

South Broad Street between South Street and Washington Avenue is on the rise, though its ascent has been rather slow and uneven. When 777 South Broad arrived on the scene a little less than a decade ago, bringing almost 150 apartments and a number of new retail spaces to the corridor, we were hopeful that we'd see other development crop up in a similar vein. But it's been a dry spell until quite recently, when construction started humming along at Lincoln Square on the northwest corner of Broad & Washington.

As for the rest of this stretch of South Broad, it remains a mix of unimpressive uses, with numerous one-story commercial buildings and a variety of vacant lots. We've had our eye on one of those vacant lots, 740 S. Broad St., for several years, hopeful that a developer would come forward to build something new and exciting.

Around the corner from other projects we recently covered

After we told you about the ongoing renovation for a building at the corner of 15th & Fitzwater last week, we made our way south down the block, pointing out a vacant lot, a rehabbed home, and some new construction at the corner of Clymer Street. And now we know that we should have turned the corner to share more development news, as the 1400 block of Clymer Street has some interesting plans in its future.

View on the block

The north side of this block is dominated by the rear of the funeral home on Fitzwater Street, including the back of a warehouse-like building and a surface parking lot. On the south side, you can see a row of two-story homes. 1430-40 Clymer St. had been owned by the same family for decades and were used as rental properties over the years. According to public record, a developer bought the properties over the summer. The address in public record and a commenter on our previous post both indicate that Noah Ostroff, the developer of Lombard Estates and other high end residential development in the area, is the one behind the project.

If by "gone straight edge," we mean "remains vacant," then yes

Several readers have reached out to us over the last few months, wondering about the Frankford Chocolate Factory at 2101 Washington Ave., and specifically asking us what's up with the 'X' signs that appeared on the building of late. We're sorry to say that these signs are not an indication that the building is the endpoint of a treasure map, nor does it suggest that the building has taken up an interest in comic books or Bryan Singer movies.

View at 22nd Street

Closer look

It's really quite banal, it's just an indication of something that most people in the neighborhood already know- that the building is vacant. While all the neighbors know that the building is empty, firefighters might not have that information. And should the building happen to catch fire, this information will guide first responders in dealing with the situation, indicating that they should not enter the building.

Could an adjacent vacant lot be next?

A decade ago, when the Graduate Hospital neighborhood still had more than its fair share of blight, the sight of a vacant building didn't really cause anybody to think twice. Today, it's a different story, with demand for homes in this neighborhood at an all time high and developers vying for an increasingly short supply of potential projects. This was pretty much the case a couple years ago too, when we wondered about the vacant building at the southeast corner of 15th & Fitzwater. Here's a look at the building in 2009, to give you an idea of why it caught our attention:

The view in 2009

The property is owned by the family that owns the Slater Funeral Home, located next door on the 1400 block of Fitzwater Street. They acquired the property over 35 years ago, but we couldn't tell you what kind of condition it was in back then. Perhaps in response to a violation, the owners installed some actual windows a couple years back to make the building seem less vacant, but we're pretty confident that it has remained empty in the years since then. But that situation seems to be changing.