Grays Ferry

It's weird but at least there's a new restaurant up the street

The Grays Ferry neighborhood has taken some positive steps of late, with new homes under construction and plans for some apartment buildings too. Grays Ferry Avenue though, looks pretty much the same as it has in recent years. Because of the width of the street and the fact that it links West Philly and Center City, this corridor is loaded with potential. But it's presently a mash-up of a street, dominated by warehouses, a PECO substation, vacancy, and the Grays Ferry Pathmark. So it's a little curious to see a 'For Rent' sign at 2717 Annin St., a vacant triangular corner lot.

Vacant land for rent

A reader tipped us off about this, and they even called the number on the sign! The land is available for $350/mo. A similarly sized parcel just up the street contains a billboard, so that would seem like an option, but we don't have the first clue about what goes into getting a billboard built. Alternately, maybe a food truck could be stored here? According to the reader who spoke to the owner, they aren't looking to sell but they are willing to listen to offers. Views across the street are pretty amazing.

Are we starting to see a trend?

A couple weeks back, we told you about a pair of homes under construction on 26th Street and ten units planned for the 2600 block of Federal Street and openly wondered whether we might find ourselves spending a little more time in Grays Ferry as development begins to pick up in this neighborhood. Well, it didn't take long for us to make a return visit. Recently, a reader tipped us off about some construction activity at 2638 Ellsworth St., a vacant lot next to a seemingly vacant home.

Work starting on Ellsworth St.

According to the L&I website, plans call for a by-right triplex on this site, which is seemingly a challenge considering the lot is only 546 sqft in size. Then we realized that the same developers own the lot next door and they're clearly combining the two parcels into one for this project. Good for them, creatively finding a productive (and permitted!) use for a pair of adjacent 14'x39' lots. It seems possible that this project will inspire other development on the block, which has its share of vacant lots and blighted buildings but the challenge for future developers, at least on this side of the block, will be the tiny lots.

Two homes under construction, apartments proposed around the corner

We don't get to Grays Ferry too often, mostly because there's not usually much to talk about over there in terms of development. But we meandered under the terrifying 25th Street viaduct the other day and happened upon a some brewing excitement at the northwest corner of 26th & Federal. At the corner sits the Progressive Worship Center. But to the north and the west, we have some news to share.

Looking up 26th St.
Two homes under construction

At 1134 and 1136 S. 26th St., two vacant lots have disappeared and two framed-out homes have arrived in their place. Cormac Mcaleer bought one of the lots back in 2009 and the other in 2010. In the years since, he's been biding his time, building homes in other places, like Graduate Hospital, Point Breeze, and Francisville. But now he's back to these properties and will surely put them up for sale soon. With prices spiking in Point Breeze, it will be fascinating to see how much someone will be willing to pay here. Stay tuned.

Big new building is sitting vacant

It's been a sad tale for the Bottom Dollar on Grays Ferry Avenue.

Two years ago, we found it curious when we heard that Bottom Dollar was building a new market at 3000 Grays Ferry Ave., right across the street from the Grays Ferry Pathmark. The discount supermarket chain was in the midst of a serious expansion campaign throughout Philadelphia, but it still seemed odd to pick a location directly across the street from such an established competitor. The market opened in early 2014 and was shuttered before the end of the year.

Closed Bottom Dollar Foods
Right across the street

But the closing of the Bottom Dollar wasn't because of anything the Pathmark did- all 46 Bottom Dollar locations in the Philadelphia area closed as part of the sale of the company to Aldi. A couple of weeks ago, reports came out that Aldi would be reopening less than half of those locations, including the Brewerytown location but not including the one on Grays Ferry Avenue. Which leaves us with a brand new building with an uncertain future.

South Bank Campus and financial incentives may mean change

We've mentioned the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood a few times previously, but we're guessing you've never visited. Tucked between Grays Ferry Ave., I-76, the Schuylkill River, and some train tracks, it's actually a little confusing to get there by car. And the walk across 34th Street isn't exactly welcoming, with cars speeding to get to and from West Philly.

So for those who have never been there, here are the details: It's got a few hundred homes, a bunch of vacant lots, a baseball field, a FedEx building, a big parking lot, and the entrance to the underutilized Dupont Crescent section of the Schuylkill River Trail. Earlier this year, we joked around and said that Penn would be buying up most of the neighborhood for housing for employees at its South Bank Campus. And more recently, we told you in all seriousness that the boundaries of Penn's Home Ownership Program had expanded to include most of the neighborhood.