Grays Ferry

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.

Replacing concrete lot

If you're traveling through Grays Ferry, you might come upon a wonderful old building at the corner of 28th & Morris. That's the former Anthony Wayne School, which several years ago was converted into affordable rental units. The building still strikes an imposing figure, with its exterior architectural features thankfully preserved.

Anthony Wayne Apartments in the former school

Once upon a time, the school and its playground and parking lot took up half a city block. What used to be the playground, according to CBS Philly, at the corner of 27th & Morris, has been a vacant concrete lot for many years. And it wasn't exactly adding anything to the neighborhood.

Will build new housing for South Bank Campus

About a year ago, we gave you the lowdown on Penn’s 23-acre South Bank campus, located on the former DuPont site between 34th St. & Grays Ferry Ave., and plans for its future. We detailed how technology and startup companies would be drawn to this site, which will eventually contain a combination of renovated and new construction buildings. A master plan from Wallace, Roberts and Todd, ostensibly due to arrive soon, should spell out exactly what's in store for this site.

Preliminary South Bank site plan

Just south of the South Bank campus is the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood, which we've mentioned a handful of times in the past. It's tucked between Grays Ferry Ave., I-76, and the Schuylkill River, and it's pretty easy to miss. Along with a few hundred homes, the neighborhood has a newer baseball field, a large FedEx building, and the entrance to the underutilized Dupont Crescent section of the Schuylkill River Trail. This neighborhood, which has seen little change in recent years, will soon be experiencing an unprecedented amount of development.

New challenge to Pathmark

Last spring, we first told you of plans for a new Bottom Dollar Foods at 31st & Grays Ferry, across the street from the Grays Ferry Pathmark. In November, groundbreaking had taken place, and most of the exterior of the building was already finished. Passing by today, we saw a fully armed and operational battle station that the market is now finished.

Open and crowded

Will this spell trouble for the Pathmark across the street? Or will it mean more options and better prices for locals? Only time will tell, folks.