Passyunk Square

Glory be

A few years back, three cools signs marked three closed business at or near the corner of Broad & Ellsworth. In late 2011, the Broad Street Diner reopened under new management after being closed for almost five years. Last year, Boot & Saddle came back to life after being dark for over two decades. Sadly, Philip's Restaurant, the third business near this corner, has remained shuttered as rebirth has come to the intersection.

Broad St. Diner
Boot & Saddle
Philip's is still closed, for now

But yesterday, we heard that change could be coming soon to the former Philip's. A few years back, Hidden City did a great interview with Phyllis Muzi, who used to run the restaurant along with her husband John. During that interview, Ms. Muzi stated that she could easily sell the building, but for some reason didn't want to give it up while she was still alive. She suggested that she gets weekly calls about the property, which last held an active business back in the 1990s.

Right next door to the former armory

A story in yesterday's Inquirer gave the sad news that Torre Big & Tall would be closing its doors in the coming weeks. According to the article, owner Mark Rosenfeld has been in the business for over three decades. The business has been around for seventy-seven years, and it's been located at its current spot at 1217 S. Broad St. since 1982. Until very recently, the old armory building stood next door, immediately to the south. That structure came down last year and soon a new apartment building will rise in its place.

The building
Armory had been next door

The closing of Torre will be sad for many, including the owner and his family, the employees who will need to find new jobs, and folks who have fond memories of the business. We wonder, once the store shuts down for good, what will happen to the space it inhabited? According to the Inquirer article, the building will either be available for rent or for sale. We, for what it's worth, hope somebody steps forward and purchases the property.

Better or worse than the vacant building?

A few weeks back, after yet another snow storm, the third floor of 848 Wharton St. collapsed under the weight of all that white stuff. We passed by the other day and the property has been totally cleared. It's now a vacant lot.

In the past
Now a slightly blurry lot

For years, this property has sat vacant, catty corner from the extremely popular and visible Pat's Steaks. You may recall, a couple of years ago, we openly wondered about the vacant lot on the northeast corner of this intersection, wondering why it hasn't been developed. Interestingly, the large vacant lot is owned by Anna and Maria Olivieri, according to public record. The recently collapsed building is owned by Maria Olivieri, which may or may not be the same person who owns the large lot across the street.

Big changes for this block

It was about a year and a half ago that we first told you of plans to convert the Annunciation BVM school at 12th & Wharton into apartments. As the time has passed, the project wound its way through the neighborhood association process, the zoning process, and now much of the construction effort. Obviously, there's been a ton of work done inside the building, but the most noticeable exterior change has been the replacement of most of its windows. Check it out:

View on the corner
12th St. facade
On Wharton Street

As you can see on the sign on the building, apartments are now available here for lease. Their Craigslist ad suggests that units will be available by April or May, and anyone who signs a 14 or 15-month lease for one of the building's forty-five units will receive a free month of rent. Not bad. The ad also goes through the building's amenities which are pretty standard, and mentions the fact that many of the units will feature original building details. Very cool that the developers were not only able to reuse the building but also preserved many interior details.

Will contain two apartments with parking

Over in Passyunk Square, we're seeing a number of one-off developments taking place on little alley-sized streets that run between the wider thoroughfares, and 1536 Camac St., tucked between 12th and 13th, and Tasker and Dickinson, is our latest example.

The garage

Last purchased in May 2013 for $100K by Forte Development Group, the property is a vacant one-story garage set among a largely residential two-story home block. So it makes sense that a developer is looking to build residential here. At its January zoning meeting, the Passyunk Square Civic Association voted not to oppose the developers’ proposal for a two-story addition here, with plans for two apartments with parking in the renovated building. Note this design will stray from the consistent two-story theme that dominates this block.

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