Ah, 325 S. 18th St., our great white whale. This property was the very thing that first piqued our interest in real estate over a decade ago, as we wondered how a building on one of the primest corners in town could be sitting blighted and crumbling. It was with some naivete that we started doing research on the property, thinking that nobody else had gotten the idea to try to buy the place over the years. Needless to say, we were not alone in trying to buy the place. And in failing to do so, we were in some great company.
The 1700 Market building is set back from 17th Street on its eastern side, creating a public open space that nobody has ever cared about as far as we can tell. It was almost exactly two years ago that the owners of the 32 story building acknowledged as much when they proposed a three story addition which would fill in that plaza and replace it with a glassy building containing three restaurants. At the time, according to Philly.com, restaurants III Forks and Cantina Laredo had already signed on for the project, with one more space still to be filled. It was predicted that the project would be finished in time for the DNC.
But if you visit 17th & Market, today, you'll note that nothing has happened nearly a year after the DNC came and went.
View from the north
View from the south
Does this mean we should forget about the idea, and assume that this sweet looking thing, designed by DAS Architects, is never gonna happen?
Parking sure is tough in Center City, and it could soon get tougher. You may recall, last month we told you that we had heard that developers were buying the parking garage on the 2000 block of Lombard Street and would close it by the end of the year. We predicted that this building would be demolished and replaced with town homes in a by-right project, as the property is zoned for multi-family use. Needless to say, this would result in the loss of a couple hundred parking spots for the neighborhood.
Garage on the 2000 block of Lombard
For those wringing their hands about this project, we've got more bad news. At the same time that this property was listed for sale, another property, 414 S. 16th St., was also listed just a few blocks away. And in case you're wondering, it's also a parking garage. While we'd heard about movement for the garage on Lombard Street, we hadn't heard much about the garage on 16th Street. But in the last couple days, we've heard rumblings that this garage is also under agreement. We have to imagine that this will mean it will also close its doors in the near future, with residential redevelopment a likely outcome.
Ever been to Rival Brothers Coffee at 24th & Lombard? This little coffee shop has been one of our favorites in the city since they opened back in 2014, in a space that was previously occupied by Taste Buds Market. They roast their own coffee, offer pastries from High Street, and have a limited number of sandwichy options. We recommend the peanut butter toast. The biggest issue with this place is the size. With only half a dozen tables or so, it's not uncommon to walk in and see a packed house, and turn around and walk out the door. It seems the owners recognized this issue, as they have just opened a larger second location at 1528 Spruce St., in a retail space in the Touraine.
The street simply called "Rittenhouse Square" is, as you'd expect, one of the more exclusive in town, running along the south side of the park of the same name. The street extends a block to the east, stretching to 17th Street, and a couple blocks to the west as well, running to 21st Street, curiously disappearing for a block, and extending again from 22nd to 23rd Street. In the interest of reducing confusion in the universe, we'd probably advocate for changing the name of the street, but we'd think that the people who live on Rittenhouse Sq. probably like the name of their street, thank you very much. With such a name, you'd think that these blocks would be well established and wouldn't see a whole lot of development activity. And yet we've been pulled to the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Sq. a couple times over the years, and now we find ourselves back on this ritzy block.
2012-14 Rittenhouse Sq., in the past
Until a few months ago, 2012-14 Rittenhouse Sq. was home to a pair of two-story homes from the early 1950s which were very well located but didn't have much else going for them. A little over a year ago, the two 2-story homes were listed for sale together, described as fixer-uppers that could either be renovated or demolished and replaced. The developer that ultimately bought them has opted for the latter. We passed by the property last week and found a relatively new hole in the ground.