South Philly

South Philly restaurant has been vacant for many years

Over the years, we've occasionally passed by the shuttered Par Four restaurant at 2201 Penrose Ave., wondering when and if it would spring back to life. The other day, when we visited Siena Place around the corner, we were again reminded that this place exists, and it seemed like a nice idea to bring the property to everyone's attention. So here you go:

View of the former restaurant
Looking up Penrose Ave.

This business has been closed since at least 2007. We did some digging about the property and discovered that it's been listed for sale a couple times over the years, most recently last year for $1.1M. But there were apparently some issues with back taxes or liens, because it sold last summer at sheriff's sale for $835K. And the new owners are not waiting around to get a new tenant into their building.

New homes keep popping up

We've actually been meaning to get down to Siena Place for months, and an early morning trip to the airport reminded us to check it off the list. We first noticed this project awhile ago while driving on I-76, spying new homes getting framed out to the south. We didn't take a picture from there since that would have been extremely dangerous, but getting a photo from Penrose Avenue near 22nd Street seemed like a considerably safer idea.

Looking west from Penrose Ave.
Siena Place!

Decades ago, this property was home to Federal Defense Housing and in more recent years it looks like it was a large and overgrown lot. Sometime between 2007 and 2011, developers got busy building a bunch of new homes here. Then the project sat for a few years, with a combination of owners and renters, we understand. We seem to remember, didn't Desean Jackson live here? More recently, additional homes have started sprouting here and even more are coming. JKRP Architects did the design work, fyi.

So what now?

Packer Park neighbors are surely pleased, as a large blighted building has disappeared from their midst. Last year, we brought 3200 S. Broad St. to your attention, mentioning rumors that owners PSDC would soon be demolishing the property. The building, which had sat vacant for many years, had been an orphanage at one point. Now the site is just a large vacant lot.

In the past
The other day

The parcel covers almost 3.5 acres- that's a huge chunk of land which would allow for all sorts of different development possibilities. Previously, we speculated about the future for this property. We considered a medical use, like the surgical center and CVS immediately to the south. We thought about commercial use, like the shopping center around the corner on Packer Avenue. We also considered residential as a possibility. Given the size of the lot, over 300 apartments would be permitted by right if the property was zoned for commercial or multi-family use. But it's zoned for single-family homes. If memory serves, a developer could subdivide and build about a hundred homes here by right.

How do you fill a space that size?

Earlier this week, we learned that nine Philadelphia-area Superfresh and Pathmark locations will be closing with parent company A&P's recent bankruptcy filing. Included in that list is the Superfresh location at 1851 S. Columbus Blvd., in the Pier 70 Shopping Center. Acme is apparently planning to purchase some Pathmark and Superfresh stores according to Philly Mag, but the Columbus Blvd. store isn't on the list.

Former American Thrift Stores

Last week, a reader directed our attention to the corner of 8th & Wolf, to a building that was home to an American Thrift Store location for many years. Back in the days that major supermarkets were satisfied with smaller spaces and no dedicated parking, it was apparently an Acme. Today, the one-story building looks kinda rough.

Corner of 8th & Wolf

As it sits, the property doesn't seem like much of an opportunity. But the parcel is huge, at just under 15K sqft. If a developer were to take on the property and demolish the building, there would be room for over a dozen new homes. Or a nicely sized apartment building. Sure, we don't see a ton of construction this deep into South Philly, but the size of this lot could entice a developer looking for their next big project.

A block away, at 7th & Wolf, there's a property that's considerably smaller but to our eyes much more interesting.