Old City

We liked it before

It wasn't so long ago that the 3rd & Market intersection had the same campy look it had possessed for years. On the northeast corner was the gaudy Shirt Corner. And the slightly less gaudy but still ridiculous Suit Corner held down the southwest corner. And we liked it that way, thank you very much.

New construction condos in Old City

Over the last several months, a new four-story building has appeared on the 100 block of Race Street. This quadplex, which has been dubbed Race Street Square, is replacing a surface parking lot at 138 Race St. that was previously associated with the building next door. Since cars had to go up on the sidewalk to access said parking lot, the new building certainly seems like a safer alternative.

The new building

It looks like three of the four condo units are still on the market, with prices ranging from $369K for a 1 bed/1.5 bath unit to $439K for a 2 bed/3 bath unit. And you can't argue with the location. Just down the street, past the Race Street Connector, is the wonderful Race Street Pier. And the surrounding blocks have all the Old City goodness with galleries, bars, restaurants, and so forth. And it's far enough away from the weekend rigamarole south of Market Street that the block is pretty quiet, outside of bridge and Patco traffic across the street. Our only regret on this project is that we wish they would have gone for something a little more creative architecturally, given then rich history of the area.

Near the I-95 onramps

In the spring, we told you of plans for a sixteen-unit building on a vacant lot in Old City, north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. So when a reader checked in over the weekend, sharing news that a new hole had appeared on 2nd Street north of the bridge, we guessed that the apartment project was approved and underway. We were, it seems, mistaken. Instead, a totally different project is now underway on the northwest corner of 2nd & Vine.

New hole in the ground

A little bit of detective work using the L&I Map revealed that developers are building six new homes on this stretch, replacing a surface parking lot and a one-story stucco building. The homes will be oriented on 2nd Street, and there will be parking in the back of each home, accessed via a drive-aisle on Vine Street. Looking at the site plan, it looks like the curb cut will only move a little bit from where it is today or it might not move at all.

It's taken years, no big whoop

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