And freshens up a storefront while they're at it

It's been a couple of years since we last checked in on 1703-05 Pine St., and the passing time has made quite a difference. Back in 2013, we brought this property to your attention, wondering how the former home of Rittenhouse Cleaners could be sitting vacant and looking so awful.

A couple years ago

At the time, we told you that a developer had purchased the property in 2010 at a very low price and was, perhaps as a result, taking his time to renovate the property. Initially, a plan for five apartments didn't even make it to the ZBA. Around the time of our story in 2013, the developer applied for permits for two apartments above the retail space, likely echoing the previous layout. But the old storefront, as far as we noticed, continued to look lousy, mystifying passersby who surely wondered how a storefront could look so bad in such a great location. At the end of last year, Francesco DiCianni from the DiCianni Group came forward and apparently had a little more interest in getting this building up to par.

We passed by the property earlier this week and quickly realized we haven't taken Pine Street lately. The storefront has been totally redone.

As it has for many years

Nobody would argue the point that Delancey Street in Center City is one of Philadelphia's ritziest addresses, which makes the perpetual blight at the corner of 18th & Delancey all the more striking. We first brought 325 S. 18th St. to your attention almost five years ago, but we've had our eye on the property for over a decade. At one point, we even dreamt of buying the property at sheriff's sale, since it was tax delinquent to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars (but not anymore). We were deeply depressed to see that someone had apparently purchased the property for $150K back in 2008, but according to a 2013 story from Inga Saffron that was a bogus deed transfer and the building has been in the hands of a woman named Teresa Isabella since the 1970s. And Ms. Isabella has been a remarkably awful property owner for as long as many neighbors can remember.

In 2012, we were hopeful that the property was finally getting fixed up. But alas, passing by earlier this week, we saw a building that still looks terrible.

This time we're serious

A number of readers have reached out in recent weeks, noticing increased construction activity at the northwest corner of 22nd & South and wondering what's going on. Some history- L2 restaurant made its home here for over fifteen years, closing in 2013. In the summer of 2014, we heard rumblings that Starbucks would be opening here, an addition cheered by some and lamented by others. Early last year though, a sign appeared on the side of the building announcing that a restaurant called Growler Stop would instead be taking over the space and people were into it. After all, who doesn't like beer and brick oven pizza?

Building at 22nd & South

But it's been over a year since the sign appeared, and at some point it disappeared. And now, with so many people curious about the future of this property, we've been burning the midnight oil trying to find out what's next for this prime retail location. And we have the answer, and stop us if you've heard this one before.



Yup, it's gonna be a Starbucks after all. The business will take over the first floor, and there will be four rental apartments upstairs.

Yet another mansion project

Another day, another mansion project. Just yesterday, we showed you renderings of the four homes planned on 3rd Street, next to the historic Salvation Army building in Society Hill. Today we turn our attention to Fitler Square, where developers have purchased 235 S. 24th St., a building that housed Penn Lighting before their move to Callowhill. According to a story in the Inquirer, they're planning to build some big new homes in this extremely desirable location.

Already ,several stories of steel framing

As the weather has improved and your inclination to stroll around town has grown, perhaps you've noticed that the northeast corner of 16th & Walnut is now a construction site. After bricks from the adjacent building crashed through the roof of Lululemon at 1527 Walnut St. a little over a year ago, Pearl Properties purchased the property and demolished the one-story building with an eye toward a project called The Beacon.

Project rendering. Image from the Inquirer

The Beacon is the rare Philadelphia project that combines an older structure with an addition that envelops it. Pearl is renovating the building at the corner, originally home to the Brown Brothers Harriman investment bank, and constructing an addition next door and atop the old building to create something entirely new. The view from street level will be mostly the building that dates back to 1927 with a splash of a contemporary structure along Walnut Street. DAS Architects did the design work on this project, which will eventually contain a hundred apartments above an Under Armour store.