It's a sad state of affairs these days on Grays Ferry Avenue, with two shuttered supermarkets sitting across the street from each other. For those that don't remember, Bottom Dollar built a new building on Grays Ferry Avenue and opened in early 2014, but closed before the end of that year. More recently, with the A&P bankruptcy, the Grays Ferry Pathmark closed its doors at the end of 2015. This street wasn't winning any prizes when both stores were open, and now things are definitively worse.
Former Bottom Dollar
Former Grays Ferry Pathmark
We've heard whispers and rumors over the last few months though, suggesting that better times are ahead. Grays Ferry Civic reported a couple months ago that Fresh Grocer could be coming to the former Pathmark space, but we haven't heard anything else about that rumor since then. Meanwhile, the talented people at MSC Retail have been listing the Bottom Dollar space for the last few months, and they're typically very good when it comes to finding tenants- it's what they do, after all.
It seems like we check in on the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood every year or so, telling you about a new project in the works for this little neighborhood between Grays Ferry Avenue, the CSX tracks, and the Schuylkill River. But aside from the occasional rehab, nothing much seems to happen in the neighborhood in terms of development. So here we go again, telling you about a possible project, this time at 1421 Schuylkill Ave., with the full understanding that it might not happen in the end. In this case though, it wouldn't be such a bad thing.
1421 Schuylkill Avenue
A reader recently gave us the heads up that the owners of this property had applied to the ZBA with a plan to open a gun shop, a gun range, and training facilities. The application was withdrawn, though, in the middle of January. That being said, it looks like they were able to pull a permit for a gun shop in December, so perhaps the zoning appeal was only for the firing range?
We have to imagine that, whether it's just a plan for a shop or a shop and a range, the neighbors wouldn't be so stoked about it. There's a baseball field right on the other side of the building and a row of homes less than a block away.
It seems the A&P bankruptcy has claimed another victim. According to NBC10, the Grays Ferry Pathmark will close its doors on November 20th. A&P has been able to find buyers for some of their locations, like the Superfresh turned Acme at 2nd & Girard, but they weren't able to find a buyer for the Grays Ferry location, according to the report. Yesterday, the store closed early to reduce prices in anticipation of next month's closing.
Grays Ferry Pathmark
This is a complete 180 degree turn for this block which in early 2014 saw the opening of a Bottom Dollar foods across the street from the Pathmark. That store closed in less than a year, and though Aldi took over many former Bottom Dollar locations they weren't interested in this one, possibly because of the competition across the street. That building continues to sit vacant, though the 18K sqft space is actively listed for lease.
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.
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.