Despite a great run of redevelopment in the last fifteen years or so, Philadelphia still has its share of prominent vacant lots. The northeast corner of 15th & Chesnut, which could become a hotel, stands as one example. Broad & Washington, both the northwest and northeast corners, is another one. Today though, we turn our eyes to the northwest corner of 2nd & Race, in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Right in the middle of Old City and mere steps from the awesome Race Street Pier, this parcel cries out for mixed-use. Instead, we've got this:
The southwest corner of 3rd & Chestnut falls right in the heart of Philadelphia’s tourist-friendly historic district. And like much in the surrounding area, this corner has seen its fair share of change over the years. The earliest available records, from Philadelphia Architects and Buildings, tells us that 300 Chestnut St. was the site of the Public Ledger Building. This was erected in 1845 to house a rapidly growing newspaper operation. The Public Ledger Building is shown in the image here below, taken from Hexamer & Locher’s 1858 Philadelphia Atlas.
The Public Ledger Building, 1858
At the time, the Public Ledger was the city’s most popular newspaper but its reputation was about to take a dive. According to Wikipedia, the paper’s official opposition to the Civil War ran contrary to passionate Union support among Philadelphians. A photo from the Library Company of Philadelphia shows the building in 1865, after several years of war, declining circulation and a change in ownership
A reader gave us a heads up that the project now has a name and a website. That website has both details about the homes and pretty renderings of the homes. The project has been dubbed The Ross Luxury Townhomes. As you might expect, these new homes are gonna be mighty fancy.
According to the website, the homes will each have over 4,000 sqft of living space, two-car parking (in garages, yay!), huge bedrooms, smart home technology, and wine cellars. Most interesting are the roof decks, which will each have kitchens and hot tubs. Certainly not amenities that Ms. Ross enjoyed in her day.
We confess, we'd never set foot on the 100 block of Church Street before a couple of weeks ago. We were familiar with the 200 block of Church, where Old City Coffee has been doing their thing forever and we used to burn the midnight oil at Sugar Mom's. Oh, and there's a pretty famous church there too. But the 100 block? We confess, we didn't know it existed. But if we may provide an excuse, it's not as if the block had been crying out for attention. It's home to some nice looking historic buildings but little retail to speak of, and until recently there was a big surface parking lot there as well. But today we bring the always welcome news of a surface parking lot that's no more.
Currently, framing is underway at 113-125 Church St., the aforementioned former surface parking lot. The skinniness of the block makes photography a little challenging, but here are a couple of images of what's going on.