Society Hill

But is Garden of Eden Happening?

About a year and a half ago, we wondered about all the retail vacancies on the first floor of Abbott's Square, ultimately learning about a plan for a 20K sqft Garden of Eden grocery store at the corner 2nd & South. Garden of Eden is a small New York based gourmet grocery chain and would have consolidated about half a dozen retail spaces into one while providing the neighborhood with a great new amenity. But we've heard rumors for months that the deal is off. Currently, the space that was slated to become Garden of Eden is just raw space.

A peek inside

We're holding out hope that the Garden of Eden is just delayed and will still happen, but we're not too optimistic. While it waits for the market or some other new tenant, Abbott's Square still has a ton of retail vacancy. To perhaps soften the blow, the building is participating in something called the Window Mural Project, with funding from the Knight Foundation. Artists Buck & Eagle have painted wintery images onto the windows of the empty commercial spaces, distracting passersby from the fact that almost all the active retail on the block is happening on the south side of the street. Check it out.

Opens the day after Thanksgiving

Ice skating at Penn's Landing has been a tradition for twenty-two years. The Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is a much newer custom that shows that sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks. Now in its third season, the Winterfest takes the old RiverRink concept, injects it with radioactive steriods, and turns it into an Incredible Hulk of cold weather fun. But with less smashing and more fire pits.

We visited last night and came away impressed as ever with the efforts of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. Check out these pics!

Building has been for sale forever

Earlier today, we got a tip from a reader that zoning notices had appeared at 212-24 S. 3rd St., the vacant former Salvation Army building.

The property

This building has been available for sale for many years, and we actually told you about if over four years ago, when it was available for $5M. With no success at that price point, the owners brought the asking price down to just below $4M a year later, and they seemingly had just as much success selling the property as they did at the higher price. But with zoning notices now appearing on the property, it appears that they've finally found a buyer, even if it's not yet reflected in public record. Or maybe there's a zoning contingency.

Looking west on Willings Alley
Zoning notices and development signs

According to the zoning notices, the historic building at the corner of Willings Alley will be preserved and turned into fourteen apartments. To the north, a newer structure will be demolished and replaced with four new homes. Each of the homes will have two-car parking, and we'd have to imagine they'll resemble the mansions we've seen get built nearby in Old City in recent years.

Building has been years in the making

Three-plus years ago, we told you about plans for two new homes at the corner of 6th & Addison on a parcel that had been used for parking for many years. But unfortunately for the developers, the ZBA put the kibosh on those plans. So it was on to Plan B, a four-story building with six apartments which was totally by-right.

Project rendering from a couple years ago

In the summer of 2013, the developers made their case for this project in front of the Historical Commission, and the minutes reveal that most of the conversation revolved around whether the City agency had jurisdiction beyond making advisory comments. Ultimately the Commission decided that they had full jurisdiction and supported the project anyway. But as we told you shortly after, several near neighbors and members of the Mother Bethel AME Church across the street opposed the project and held a vigil to pray that the Historical Commission would alter their ruling. People were, it seems, mostly upset about the contemporary architecture and how it would fit in with the surrounding historic neighborhood.

Unexpected new tenant for former crappy bar

It's been more than three years since Mako's Retired Surfers Bar & Grill closed its doors on the northwest corner of 3rd & South due to a lapsed liquor license and general crapitude. The hilariously tie-dyed building that formerly housed the bar, though located on a prominent corner of a very busy commercial corridor, has sat empty ever since. Perhaps it's because the owners were at one point looking for $10K per month in rent.

Former Mako's

Earlier this week, after grabbing a bagel at South Street Bagels, we spotted some dude chipping the paint off the front door of the former bar. Intrigued, we went over to ask him what was coming into the space. As we got closer, we were very surprised to see a bunch of shoes arranged neatly on shelves inside the former bar. It turns out Image on South, which "provide(s) Philadelphia with exclusive, speciality clothing for the style conscious and image aware," has expanded into the space. They cut a neat little doorway into the brick wall separating the buildings and now they have a dedicated shoe section.