Odd shape presents a challenge

A reader tipped us off recently about 126-32 Dickinson St., a large Pennsport property that's currently available for sale. Passing by the property, you can see a two-story building and a fenced area on Dickinson Street and you'd never imagine that the property spans over a quarter of an acre.

View on Dickinson

To the west of the property there are older two-story homes. To the east is I-95 and a collection of homes built about ten years ago. One of those homes recently sold for over half a million, giving an indication of what potential developers might consider when penciling out a project next door. The big challenge with this property, and the reason we bring it to you instead of buying it ourselves, is the odd shape of the parcel. The listing provides a drawing that shows what we mean.

Wax museum is sadly off the table

Neighbors across South Philly breathed a huge sigh of relief a few years ago when plans for a Foxwoods casino at 1401 S. Columbus Blvd. fell through. In the time since then, the lot has continued to sit vacant, and about a year ago we learned that Bart Blatstein had the property under agreement. At the time, we wondered what might be in store for this enormous property, speculating that we'd see a mix of commercial and residential development and hoping for something new and interesting for the site.

View of the site

Last month, Philly Mag noticed a brochure from MSC Retail that details the first attempt at Mr. Blatstein's plan for this parcel. Check it out:

Perhaps something more contemporary

We were meandering around the neighborhood earlier this week and happened upon some construction on the 400 block of Sigel Street, with the promise of more to come. For whatever reason several lots on this block have sat vacant for a number of years, but now the lots at 431 and 433 Sigel St. are seeing new homes get built. Both homes were listed for sale, one for $315K and the slightly wider one for $325K, but they were taken off the market about a month ago.

Two homes under construction

Though public record indicates that different parties own these two properties, the coinciding construction would seem to indicate that it's the same developer working on both. Also the withdrawn listings showed identical photos and the same description, further supporting the theory that this is indeed the same developer. Incidentally, these guys also built 412 Sigel St., the most contemporary home on the block. That home sold a couple months back for just over $280K- perhaps the developers are shooting for a higher price for the homes currently under construction because they lack a silly third story setback.

The end is finally in sight

Ah Constitution Court, we can finally see the finish line. We first told you about this project on the northwest corner of 3rd & Reed almost three years ago, when we told you about plans to demolish the St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, a wonderful structure built in the 1890s. We really wish that this building could have been preserved somehow, though we're not sure what other uses could have worked here.

In the past

In short order, the church came down and the first two homes of this twelve home development arrived on the scene. But somehow it came to the City's attention that the homes were two feet too tall, and L&I forced the developers to shorten the homes to the permitted height. Construction resumed in May of 2014 and has progressed ever since, though at a modest pace. This past summer, the first two homes were finished and crews were actively working on the next four homes. The pace has picked up considerably in recent months, with the row of homes on 3rd Street now finished. All of these homes appear to be sold or at least under agreement.

After years of vacancy and several fizzled proposals

Over the summer, we visited the Mount Sinai Hospital site at 4th & Reed and speculated that development was finally on the way after years of vacancy and several proposals that never came to pass. In contrast to earlier plans from other developers, the Concordia Group was looking to demolish the empty hospital and replace it with 95 new homes, all with parking. With two visits to CDR and multiple community meetings, we were optimistic that the project was happening but a little wary, considering the history of the site. For a better idea of the plan, here's a site plan and a rendering of the project from architects Barton Partners.

Project site plan
Rendering at 4th & Reed

We still can't promise that the homes are getting built, but we're extremely confident that the existing building is getting demolished. This confidence stems from the fact that we've seen it with our own eyes. Here, check out these images: