Graduate Hospital

Will the new building blend in?

If you've even found yourself on the 1600 block of Christian Street, especially at night, you've surely noticed 1631, 1635, and 1637 Christian St., opulent visions of redevelopment in a neighborhood that's had more than its fair share. The fact that this section of the block was pretty much bombed out as recently as fifteen years ago makes the homes stand out all the more as dramatic examples of a neighborhood's transformation.


We would have to imagine it's been sticking in the craws of the folks who live in these homes as well as anyone else who lives nearby that 1627 Christian St. has remained blighted despite the renovation and construction in the neighborhood. The contrast is pretty stark when you look at it.

Last blight on the block

But there's good news indeed for the people who live on this block; the blighted building is finally getting redeveloped. A demolition notice has appeared on the property, and it should soon be coming down. According to a reader who tipped us off about it, in its place will rise a new building with three condo units. According to public record, the same developers who hilariously purchased the building for $13,700 from the Redevelopment Authority back in 2010 still owns it, but we wouldn't be shocked if they flipped it to somebody else.

Never seen anything like 'em

A couple of years ago, when we told you about plans for a new construction home at 1418 Pemberton St., we highlighted the stalled construction next door. Plenty of time has passed, the aforementioned planned home has been built and sold (for $840K!), and there has thankfully been some progress next door. But even after the long time lapse, the homes at 1420-22 Pemberton St. still aren't finished.

A couple years ago
Same homes but from the other direction

The facades have changed little in over two years, though some sheathing has appeared on the bay windows. The western bay looks like it got damaged, perhaps by a passing truck. Somehow, when we last visited these homes two years ago, we didn't notice the unusual details present on their facades. On either side of the front doors and immediately above the garages, you can see (clearly prefabbed) carved faces in the stone. Above, there's some additional carvings in the brick.

And continue for the next thirty years

Somehow, we haven't provided any updates on CHOP's Schuylkill Avenue project since April, after they first presented at Civic Design Review. To quickly bring you up to speed, CHOP came to a second CDR meeting with some changes to the project, then they presented to the ZBA and got approval to build the first phase of their massive project.

For the past couple of months, we haven't heard much about the project, but today a reader sent us a flyer they received, notifying them (and us by extension) that work is set to begin soon on the site. The first months will involve the demolition of the buildings that remain, including the former Springfield Beer Distributor and the former JFK Vocational High School.

To be demolished

In their place, in the first phase of the project, we'll soon see an office tower, a promenade at the South Street bridge that leads to an extended Schuylkill River Trail, a large public green space on Schuylkill Avenue that leads to views of the river, and a couple of retail spaces. There will also be parking for 500 cars and a new curb cut on the South Street Bridge. So, yeah. The project will eventually include three additional phases, but CHOP has been reluctant to provide much detail on what those phases will entail and when they'll get built.

What's coming to Devil's Pocket?

A reader checked in today with a tip that the former home of Healthy Bites at 2521 Christian St. is under construction. In its most recent incarnation as a retail space, this building was home to a gourmet cafe/market that also did a bunch of premade meals to go. The storefront shut down a couple of years ago, but for awhile it was functioning as a commissary for the cafe's former proprietor. Not sure when that stopped, but it clearly ain't happening any more.


When we zipped by, we asked one of the guys on the site if they know what they're working on (remarkable that guys usually don't know), and we were told that it's gonna be a little restaurant. The reader who first gave us the heads up about the project had heard that it might become an Indian restaurant, which would certainly be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. If it doesn't end up being an Indian place, we suspect that neighbors would be glad to see another kind of ethnic spot, which is kind of lacking in the immediate area.

It was interesting to see that this property, which has been a deli and a market and a cafe over the last few decades, is actually zoned for a single family home. Makes us wonder whether the restaurant use will need to go before the community to get a zoning variance, or if the previous cafe use can carry over.

Has anyone else heard anything about this project? Any hopes and dreams for the restaurant that will eventually take over this space?

At least half of Montrose Court seems dead

At the end of 2011, the 2500 block of Montrose Street looked like it would soon experience a host of changes. Metro Impact had introduced a project called Montrose Court, which would have meant the construction of eight new homes on the north side of the block and three homes on its south side. Though some neighbors on Christian Street had problems with the height of the proposed homes due to concerns about shadows, we were pretty confident that the project would get built quickly.

Old renderings

Years went by, and the project wasn't happening, though the two-story homes that populated the north side of the block were eventually demolished. Earlier this year, a hole appeared on the south side of the block and we thought that the project was finally getting underway. Alas, the block still sits undeveloped and the Montrose Court lots are overgrown.