It was almost exactly one year ago that an electrical fire struck Jack B. Fabrics at 748 S. 4th St. on Fabric Row. The fire took the life of a fire Captain and resulted in the demolition of the building that was home to the store for many years. It also led directly to the relocation of several nearby businesses, whose storefronts were so damaged that continued operations became impossible.
Before the fire
A few days after
We went to Essene over the weekend, and passed by this corner afterward. What we saw was quite surprising.
We last checked in on 718-24 S. 2nd St. about three years ago. At the time, the three buildings stuck out on this historic block like a sore thumb. They looked like somebody had built some new homes out of cinderblocks, blocked the window openings, left to buy a pack of cigarettes or something, and never came back. And if you look at them today, you would be inclined to believe that nothing has changed.
View on 2nd Street
Over a year ago, a new developer purchased the properties pictured above at sheriff's sale, leading us to believe that work would soon begin again. New permits have been posted, as have new Stop Work Orders. Neighbors who have been living with this situation for many years are surely wondering whether the project to build nine condos with eight parking spaces will ever come to fruition. And in the meantime, the Monroe Street section of this development seems to be rotting away.
Almost exactly a year ago, we told you that a one-story garage on the 500 block of Carpenter Street was being purchased. At the time, we suspected that two homes would replace it. Passing by the other day, we discovered that the garage has been demolished and new foundations are going in. Looking at the L&I Map, we discovered that our previous suspicions were off-base. Just one home will be coming here.
In the past
Construction at the site
The new home, when it's built, will be three-stories high with a roof deck. It will be wider than most, at nearly 26'. But since it's being built on shallow lots and the builders didn't go to zoning for open area, a shallower-than-usual home will balance the extra width and lead to a home with a standard amount of square-footage. Oh, and there's gonna be a parking space.
When we looked at this property a year ago, we also told you that this block had seen a large number of new homes go up in recent years. The 500 block of Carpenter Street got at least a dozen new homes, some of which are owner occupied with others serving as rentals. We didn't notice, back then, that the 1000 block of S. Fairhill St., which runs between Carpenter and Washington, had also gotten several new homes of late.
The building which previously stood here had wrought iron balconies, french doors, original leaded glass, mahogany flooring, and a stone fireplace, according to an old listing. In 2007 it went to sheriff's sale, and it was snatched off the market as a bank-owned property in 2008 after about a week. And since then, it's pretty much sat. There were stop-work-orders on the building, suggesting aborted renovation efforts, but the place has certainly been sitting empty for several years. Public record reflects the same owners since 2008, but perhaps the new work on the site suggests new ownership.
Heading up 3rd Street today, the sight of 733 S. 3rd St. caught our attention. And it would have caught your attention, too. The building is a handsome three story corner structure that was once clearly home to a first floor business and apartments above. We only wish that more architects nowadays looked at the details on the building's exterior and were inspired when designing new construction. One less inspiring aspect of the building these days is a distinct lack of windows.
For sale. Again.
You can see from the sign on the building that it's for sale. Okay, makes sense. Our first thought was that a long-term owner was finally looking to unload the building, which has surely appreciated over the years. But wrong we were indeed! 733 S. 3rd St. LP bought the building back in January for $300K. Now, they're looking to sell it for $400K. After realtor fees and taxes, at that price, they would clear over $70K. Not bad, right?
Will they be able to get the price they're seeking, or did they pay the right sum for a gut rehab property in Queen Village? Set up as a single family home or perhaps two condos, we can see new units selling here for a pretty penny. But when the starting point is $400K, we're not sure that the spread is large enough to make the numbers work for another developer. But hey, we're always happy to be proven wrong.