To state the obvious, Passyunk Avenue is great. It's got a bevy of restaurants, a growing collection of locally owned small businesses, and a general vibe that has made it the commercial corridor du jour for at least the last couple thousand jours. You'd think, given the power of Passyunk Avenue, that we'd be covering a ton of development nearby- but you'd be incorrect. And it's not because of a lack of demand, but a lack of supply.
The neighborhoods around Passyunk Avenue never experienced the same kind of disinvestment as say, Point Breeze or Graduate Hospital, and as a result there simply aren't anywhere near as many development opportunities around the corridor. When one comes along, developers are typically quick to pounce. Take, for example, 1133 Dickinson St., which was sitting blighted until 2012, when developers tore down an old home and built a new one that quickly sold for over $400K.
Toward the end of 2012, we noticed some 'For Sale' signs posted at a vacant lot at 1312-16 E. Passyunk Ave., and were even kind enough to share this info with the world, with the hope that someone would purchase and redevelop these properties. It may have taken a few years, but developers finally bought these lots and are now trying to find a way to build a project that makes sense with their $600K purchase price.
If your Passyunk Avenue mental geography isn't so great, we'll help you out by telling you that these properties are located just around the corner from Wharton Street and sit just south of Pat's and Geno's. Despite a location so close to a retail mecca though, these properties are zoned for single-family homes.
The property, a couple years ago
Looking up Passyunk Ave.
Three new homes would work here, though we'd contend that the location is just a hair too close to tourist central to really get the needed sale prices. We lived a block from here many years back, and the crowds weren't so bad, but the sauteed onion smell was pretty constant. Ah, the memories. Wait, where were we?
We were meandering around South Philly earlier today and were stopped dead in our tracks by an unexpected sign in the window of 1352-56 E. Passyunk Ave., a building that was most recently home to a Rita's Water Ice but has been vacant for a couple of years. Other people might instead remember the building as Nifty Fifties, but that was quite a few years ago. We visited this property at the beginning of the year after noticing a renovation permit in the window, but we didn't know whether a tenant had signed a lease for the space or whether the landlords were simply building out a vanilla box in an effort to attract a tenant. Whatever was happening back then, it's now clear that there's a new tenant coming soon.
View of the property
The signs on the building indicate that El Paisano Supermarket #1 will soon open at this address. On its face, this seems like a curious location for this kind of business. Don't get us wrong, we love our local bodega and appreciate the convenience it provides, since we live a decent walk away from a supermarket. The same cannot be said of the people who live near the intersection of 10th & Reed.
We lived around the corner from Pat's and Geno's about a decade ago, and occasionally found ourselves on the 700 block of Latona Street.
700 block of Latona Street
Every time we walked that block, we wondered about the unusual 706-724 Latona St., a property we jokingly referred to as "the compound." It's like nothing you'll see anywhere else in town, with a mere three homes and a staggering amount of open space behind a metal gate. A zen garden takes up about half of the property, and it includes an actual koi pond, with fish swimming around having a grand old time. The rest of the space is paved, providing easy parking for the residents.
We were walking down Tasker Street shortly after polishing off a delicious slice from Francoluigi's when a rather massive structure caught our eye on the 1500 block of Camac Street. This block seemed oddly familiar, and then we realized that we'd covered this project back when it was first proposed in the beginning of 2014. At that time, snow was on the ground and 1536 Camac St. was an unimpressive one-story garage.
A couple years ago
Back in 2014, we told you that the Forte Development Group bought the property the year before and presented plans for a two-story addition with two apartments and parking to the Passyunk Square Civic Association, getting a vote of non-opposition. At the time, we made a point to mention that the project would stray from the two-story homes found on the rest of the block. Boy, we weren't kidding.