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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For decades, the eastern stretch of South Street has possessed an interesting and diverse retail mix. The Mood, located at 531 South St., was a common stop on the window shopping expressway of South Street, and apparently people sometimes actually purchased adult novelties there as well. We were in the area the other day, and noticed that the store has closed its doors.
Paper in the windows
We can't imagine a more interesting business will fill this space. On the plus side, Condom Kingdom is located just a block away, and should be able to absorb the additional business. Alternately, they apparently sell all that stuff on the internet too.
The bottom of Abbotts Square on the 200 block of South Street has mystified us of late. Most of the little stores on the block's north side have closed or moved in the last year, which has come on the heels of Chef's Market shrinking to a catering operation called Chef's Table. A few years ago, we heard rumors of a restaurant/banquet hall with live music coming to the block, but nothing seems to have come of those plans. But recently a reader tipped us off that a big new tenant is coming soon, explaining why the block looks so desolate at the moment.
According to a flyer from Legend Properties, New York based Garden of Eden is set to take over a giant retail space covering two-thirds of the block. The store, according to their website, "is a culinary Mecca for savvy shoppers who demand the finest products and ingredients at the best prices." So, uh, that sounds pretty good. We're ballparking here, but it looks like they'll be taking a roughly 20K sqft space for their first location outside of the New York area. It should be fascinating to watch them try to adapt to the Philadelphia market.