Spring Garden

Four homes could fit the bill

It looks like the Spring Garden neighborhood could soon get a row of new homes, and we'd be willing wager that these homes will be on the shmancy side. For well over a decade, 1600 and 1602 Wallace St. have been sitting vacant, despite the fact that this is one of the more desirable neighborhoods ringing Center City. An upcoming zoning hearing could change things in a hurry for this property.

View of the property

According to the zoning notices posted on a chain link fence, developers are planning to subdivide the properties into four parcels and build four new homes which we believe would front 16th Street. Each home will be wider and shallower than the typical home, which will probably result floor plates that are relatively standard in size. The zoning application indicates that the homes will rise four stories and have front loading garages, telling us that the homes will have kitchens and living areas on the 2nd floor, with bedrooms on the upper floors.

But a zoning issue remains

La Milagrosa was a center for the Catholic Hispanic community for roughly a century at 1903 Spring Garden St. before it closed its doors back in the summer of 2013. At the time, we weren't sure what would ultimately happen to the building but we speculated that it would be sold to a developer and converted into apartments. Demolition seemed like a remote possibility, as the building is located inside the Spring Garden Historic District.

By August, a developer had come forward to buy the property, paying $750K. Within a year, they came before the ZBA with a plan to convert the building into a 7-unit apartment building with four parking spaces in the rear. The variances were granted and we're fairly certain that the building has been renovated and is now occupied. So... what's with the zoning notice on the front door?

The building

It turns out the variance was appealed by a neighbor on 19th Street whose property sits on the other side of tiny Monterey Street. First the ZBA ruling was appealed to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas where it was upheld. Then it went on to the PA Commonwealth Court, which found (in a lengthy and incredibly wonky decision) that the ZBA erred, and now the project has to go back to the ZBA, roughly three years after it was first presented. Hence, the zoning notice.

Apartments, retail, office space, and parking of course

One of our first predictions for 2017 was that North Broad Street would take a major step forward this year, and it didn't even take two weeks for news to emerge that supports this expectation. Hey, when you're good, you're good.

Yesterday, Philadelphia Business Journal published a story (behind a pay wall) about plans for Parkway Corp. to partner with Nightingale Properties to redevelop the large surface parking lot on the northwest corner of Broad & Spring Garden. You may recall, we told you over the summer that Parkway had purchased this property but we didn't know anything concrete about their plans. Now, thanks to PBJ, we've got some significant insight and some pretty renderings too.

A couple years after its demolition by neglect

We featured the building at 1516 Green St. as our blight of the week in March of 2013, wondering how this wonderful building had fallen on such hard times. Doing some research, we quickly realized that it was under the careful watch of the Philadelphia Housing Authority that the building was allowed to fall into such horrendous disrepair.

In the past

Fortunately, PHA auctioned off hundreds of vacant properties a few years back, including 1516 Green St., and by 2013 it was in the hands of private developers looking to redevelop. They presented a plan to convert the building into six apartments, a project that would have entailed demolishing and rebuilding the rear of the building but maintaining its facade. Since the property sits in the Spring Garden Historic District, this plan had to go before the Historical Commission which unfortunately did not give its blessing. Within a year of our first story, the building was declared imminently dangerous and demolished. As you might expect, the property has been sitting vacant for the last couple of years. But hark, a reader told us the other day that construction has started here!

They paved our hearts and are putting up a parking lot

A reader emailed us the other day, wondering about zoning notices they'd spied on the 1700 block of Brandywine Street. We were excited to hear about this, as the north side of this block is dominated by a large surface parking lot and is zoned for multi-family use, so we had high hopes for a significant upgrade. Doing just about a minute of research though, out hopes were quickly dashed.

Slightly faded zoning notice at lot at 1709 Brandywine St.

Existing parking lot

The parking lot is pretty sizable

Unfortunately, the zoning notices are simply for the relocation of lot lines to expand the existing surface parking lot, which is currently used by the Carpenters Union on the 1800 block of Spring Garden Street. The ZBA granted the variance over the summer, by the way. The union bought the property back in 2014, though the eastern section was seemingly owned by developers at one point. As far as we can tell, these lots have pretty much been sitting empty forever, since they were once the enormous rear yards of mansions on Green Street. And it seems they'll continue to sit "empty" for the foreseeable future. This is a bit of a bummer, as this is a prime location for redevelopment. Ah well, we suspect the neighborhood will survive.