Grays Ferry

Nobody cares about being close to the viaduct, it seems

In neighborhoods like Callowhill or West Poplar, it's not such a big deal to live near the viaduct since it's 1) no longer used by trains, and 2) turning into one what will be one of the coolest parks in Philadelphia. In Point Breeze and Grays Ferry, not so much. Until a massive repair effort began last year, the 25th Street viaduct was crumbling, occasionally dropping chunks on concrete on lucky passersby. CSX uses the viaduct daily, with trains occasionally stopping for extended periods. As a result, we don't see a park blooming here at any point in the near or distant future. Eventual demolition is probably the best hope, and realistically that may not happen in our lifetime.

View of the viaduct from the 2500 block of Ellsworth Street

Despite the unpleasantness of the 25th Street Viaduct, some developers are still eyeing properties nearby, with a twenty-eight unit plan on the 2400 block of Federal Street being the most significant at this moment. The 2500 block of Ellsworth Street presents some activity on a much smaller scale, as we see three one-off projects all under construction at this time. First, we look first at 2532 Ellsworth St., where developers are rehabbing a two-story home. They're doing a nice job, removing a coat of red paint that was hiding many of the original details on the facade. Other developers are building a duplex on at former vacant lot at 2536 Ellsworth St., it's a similar situation a few doors down at 2042 Ellsworth St.

We don't know what's going on

We're gonna direct your attention all the way back to yesterday's post about how we recently noticed construction at the former Grays Ferry Pathmark because today we have an additional dimension to add to the conversation. You may recall, we weren't sure whether the construction activity signaled that a new tenant had emerged for the space, and we considered the possibility that the property managers were simply sprucing up the space for a yet-to-be-determined tenant.

Former Pathmark

But we did mention that we'd heard rumors about the possibility of Fresh Grocer or Shop Rite taking over the space, without any kind of confirmation. Thanks to the sleuthing efforts of one of our readers though, we may have ourselves a smoking gun. But it's a confusing smoking gun, to say the least.

Info from the LCB

On the LCB website, there's a pending application for a restaurant liquor license at the site of the former supermarket. Wakefern Food Corp is the owner and wouldn't you know it, Wakefern is the parent company of Price Rite, Shop Rite, and Fresh Grocer. This would indicate, quite strongly, that one of those grocery stores will soon be opening on Grays Ferry Avenue. So while we still aren't sure which grocery store to expect, this at least tells us that a grocery store is indeed coming soon.

Not sure if this means they've got a tenant

The Grays Ferry Pathmark closed its doors last fall, creating a food desert in the neighborhood and a giant vacancy in the creatively named Grays Ferry Shopping Center. At the beginning of this year, we heard rumbings that Fresh Grocer would be taking over the Pathmark space but we haven't heard confirmation of that rumor. We told you last April that Laserdome, a laser tag company out of Lancaster, would be taking over the space, but that information was utterly false and was only presented because we're so creative and hilarious.

Just the other day, we were passing by the shopping center on our way to West Philly and spied something new and different. There's a construction fence in front of the former Pathmark!

New building looks pretty cool

While taking a stroll on the yet to-be-connected part of the Schuylkill River Trail in Forgotten Bottom, we noticed the unmistakable architecture of a modified building that we recognized from its renderings. Formerly named known as Penn's South Bank, Pennovation Works is currently a modest construction project on a relatively large piece of land, 23 acres to be exact. The property was previously a Dupont laboratory, and was the site of chemical manufacturing dating back to the 1800s. Now, Penn plans to build a campus of labs, offices, and manufacturing “to bridge the intellectual and entrepreneurial initiatives for advancing knowledge and generating economic development.” The plan notably includes that modified building we mentioned earlier, which will be called the Pennovation Center and was designed by New York-based Hollwich Kushner.

View of the site in the future

Renovation is looking sweet

The renovation to this classic industrial building makes it look like a giant broke off a large chunk, leaving some sharp edges that are framed in glass. We're big fans of the architecture. Once the Schuylkill River Trail is connected to this part of the city, the building will be a readily visible landmark to the countless runners and bikers who will pass by every day.

Will it be a building? A food truck? We don't know

A reader recently directed our attention to some signs posted on a fence at 2717 Annin St., a property we actually told you about last fall. At that time, we had noticed some different signs on the little vacant lot, advertising that it was available for rent. The asking rate was a very affordable $350/month, but we were at a bit of a loss figuring out what could happen on at 708 sqft triangular lot on Grays Ferry Avenue. A new building seemed very unlikely, so we proposed a billboard (however you make that happen) or perhaps food truck storage.

The signs now posted at the property indicate that some kind of food service place is on the way. We first thought that the signs were advertising a place called Manual Treats, but upon closer examination we see that the place will be called Marval Treats.