It was almost five years ago (man, we've been doing this awhile) that we told you about plans for three duplexes on the corner of 36th & Wharton in the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood. The properties at 3536-40 Wharton St. were sitting vacant, though neighborhood bar Tony D's had stood there until just a few years earlier. That building looked like three stories of garbage, so it's no shock it got torn down.
In the past
Earlier this week, we got word that construction had gotten started here. And we needed to see for ourselves, since we keep expecting to see development in Forgotten Bottom but have found ourselves perpetually disappointed by the slow progress in the neighborhood. And by slow progress, of course, we mean that there's been almost no construction here despite the proximity to West Philadelphia and the easy access to the Pennovation Works. But hey, when we zipped by the properties we did indeed see that there's some construction happening.
The property at 2500 Reed St. has been sitting vacant for at least a decade, and while our memory doesn't go back much further for the property, we'd think that it was used for some kind of industrial purpose in a previous life. This makes sense, since it sits right next to the CSX tracks and industrial is quite consistent with most of the other buildings that immediately surround the tracks. Plus, the fact that the 166K sqft parcel is sitting entirely empty would seem to suggest that one or two buildings once stood here, not a collection of homes. Two points for anyone that can remember what used to be here.
But enough about the past, let's talk about the present. Specifically, today we'd like to bring it to your attention that this property isn't sitting entirely vacant anymore. To wit, it's looking much greener these days. We passed by recently and noticed a whole bunch of raised garden beds. And while we don't necessarily regard this with the same energy and enthusiasm that we would a large scale mixed use development, we can still appreciate that the greening of this parcel represents a major step up from its previously vacant state.
A little over two years ago, we predicted big things for Forgotten Bottom, expecting a ton of new development for the area. And we're still optimistic that this neighborhood is eventually gonna blossom, even if it hasn't happened just yet. For those unfamiliar with Forgotten Bottom, it's a tiny neighborhood that's located between Grays Ferry Ave., I-76, the Schuylkill River, and some train tracks, and only has housing on the equivalent of two square blocks. The rest of the neighborhood consists of a baseball field (a hidden gem!), a FedEx building, a big parking lot, a bunch of vacant lots, some old warehouses, and the entrance to the Dupont Crescent section of the Schuylkill River Trail.
With easy access to the University of Pennsylvania, HUP, and CHOP, and especially with the opening of Pennovation Works just to the north of this neighborhood, we assumed that people would start to give Forgotten Bottom a little more attention. And don't forget that a couple years ago, Penn extended their Homeownership Grant Program to include properties in this neighborhood, further encouraging people to move here. And looking to the future, the Dupont Crescent will eventually connect to the rest of the Schuylkill River Trail, which will make this neighborhood even more attractive.
While traveling through Grays Ferry a week or two ago, we noticed a pair of new homes on the 2600 block of Latona Street, which was an entirely unexpected sight. We've seen an uptick in construction in this neighborhood of late, but there's still so little getting built here that we're generally aware of every project that gets in the ground. But somehow, developers snuck in a pair of homes at 2641 and 2645 Latona St. when we weren't looking. These homes are now listed for sale for $375K and $365K respectively. This is a higher than expected price for Grays Ferry, let alone for homes built on 14'-wide lots.
New homes on the left
You can see in this photo, this block isn't exactly one of the best in Philadelphia. On the north side of the block, we count the two new homes we mentioned before, and one older two story home. The south side has roughly twice as many buildings, which doesn't say much.
Looking west, we see most of the homes on the block
The developers that built the two new homes on the north side of the block appear to have started working on yet another home on this block, this time on the south side. This home is set to rise at 2628 Latona St., between two of the existing homes. This leads us to believe it will have an unfortunate third floor setback, since we don't see any zoning variance among the permits for the project.
As we were triumphantly returning home from a successful trip to the new Fresh Grocer over the weekend, we spied a pile of bricks on the 2700 block of Federal Street, just off of Grays Ferry Avenue. We initially figured this to be the site of the (maybe) upcoming Marval Treats store, but then realized that store is (probably never) coming to the 2700 block of Annin Street. So what's happening on Federal Street?
Billboard plus a pile of bricks
The short answer is that we have no idea! Previously, a dilapidated two story building spanned 2729-31 Federal St., and that building is now gone. It's a shame, it was a pretty nice looking structure and the building, along with the surrounding greenery, made the billboards next door a little less noticeable.