Old City

Scaffolding finally came down

We've had an eye on the former Samuel Machinery building at 135 N. 3rd St. for many years, first bringing the property to your attention way back in early 2012 when it was a blighted building with wonderful bones.

In the past

In short, the building has been sitting vacant for over a decade, with work taking place intermittently since 2007 thanks to litigation that was only resolved in 2013. Shortly after the legal stuff was taken care of, scaffolding went up in front of the building, though construction moved very slowly and experienced several stops and starts. Finally, a couple months ago, the developers took down the upper floors of scaffolding, exposing the restored brown stone. Within the last week or so, the rest of the scaffolding came down. And the building looks phenomenal.

Old City needed some more high end homes

If you've caught a flick at Ritz East lately, you've surely noticed that there's a major construction project happening across the street. For as long as we can remember, 130 S. Front St. has been a surface parking lot, but developers bought the property last year and are now pretty far along on a project called The Adagio.

A total of twenty-seven new homes

We confess, we're amazed by all of the construction happening near Front & Race right now. About a year and a half ago, we told you about plans for ten homes at 120 Race St., then part of a surface parking lot located next to the highway. In general, these plans sounded okay to us, but we were somewhat bummed that the developers were opting for homes and not a condo building like the newish six-unit building at Front & Quarry. Checking in on this project today, you can see that the most of the homes look like they're approaching the finish line.

Ten homes at 120 Race St.
Looking up the drive-aisle at 120 Race St.

You'd think these homes would be listed for sale but we can't find any listings. Given what new construction homes are selling for in Old City these days, a price over $1M per home is to be expected, though we wonder whether the fact that I-95 is immediately next door to nine of the homes might have an impact on sale price.

It's been a disaster for many years

It was over four years ago that we first brought 135-37 N. 3rd St., the former Samuel Machinery Company building, to your attention. At the time, we noted the terrible condition of the property, prominently located in the middle of Old City, and wondered when or if it would get redeveloped (or fall down of its own accord).

A few years ago

About a year later, we learned that the folks that bought the property at sheriff's sale in 2007 were finally moving forward with a renovation of the building, having been delayed for years by litigation. Scaffolding went up a little while later, and it's stayed up ever since. The building has been hit with a collection of violations over the last few years, facing stop work orders and additional litigation. In recent months though, some neighbors indicate that the pace has accelerated and that progress is finally apparent at the building.

But it'll be back soon enough

Some of the buildings at 109-131 N. 2nd St. had been there since the 19th century, but they took on a distinct personality in the 1950s when the National Products Company clad the first floors in orange tile. Looking like nothing else in Philadelphia, the property received historic designation in 2002 despite the fact that its distinguishing characteristics only dated back a few decades. Since National cleared out of the building in the mid-1990s, it had sat mostly vacant, with multiple redevelopment plans coming and going over the years.

In the past

A couple months ago, we told you that a plan was finally moving forward to redevelop the property. Despite the historic designation, developers from the Dale Corporation got permission to demolish the building and replace it with a six-story building with 192 apartments and ground-floor retail. The project will recreate the historic first-floor facade, using tiles that will better survive the elements. It will also reuse some of the amazing metal signage. Here's an old rendering which will give you an idea of what we can expect.