Spring Garden

Four story building has been framed out

At 1720 Fairmount Ave., what was for years a storage lot for building materials like brick and stone is now a framed out four-story building. When it's finished, it will include 18 new apartments and complete one of the closing paragraphs of the tale about redevelopment along Fairmount Avenue.

In the past

It's been a couple of years in the making, and seeing this project get some legs, and then a torso, as it was framed, shows developers are looking to get people living in the building sometime this year.

MM Partners to the rescue!

MM Partners has traditionally done a ton of development in Brewerytown, with a particular emphasis on rehabilitating storefronts on Girard Avenue. Now it seems they've got their sights set on a new corridor- Fairmount Avenue. Recently, a sign appeared on the front of the long-vacant Country Fresh Market building at the corner of 17th & Fairmount announcing the property's upcoming renovation. Along with attaching MM Partners to the project, it included a nice lookin' picture showing us what we can expect.

Current view
Project rendering

We reached out to MM Partners, and learned that they're planning seventeen loft apartments with 1:1 parking, two new homes (ostensibly on Melon Street), and five retail spaces. Remarkably, four of the five commercial spaces are already leased. As this property falls within the Spring Garden Historic District and clearly contributes given its unusual look, the developers are bound by Federal historic guidelines. We're most pleased to see that the original window sizes and shapes will be making a comeback.

But what's the endgame?

If you live in the Spring Garden or Francisville neighborhoods, you've surely noticed the former Mortgage Security Trust Company building on the corner of 18th & Fairmount. Heck, we don't live in either neighborhood and it caught our attention over three years ago. Back then, we plead to the cosmos that the owners would renovate the property or sell it to someone who would. The building has amazing bones but for many years it's looked like it was being held together with duct tape.

In the past

A couple of readers have reached out, sharing the exciting news that this building is currently getting some renovation action. The owners went to the Historical Commission earlier this year, presenting plans to replace the glass block and stucco filling the old window openings. Passing by earlier today we discovered a building that's experiencing a significant change. Though it's only the 18th Street side that's currently getting work done, we'd have to imagine that the Fairmount Avenue side is next on the docket.

Old signage comes back

About a year and a half ago, a store called Momoyo opened at the corner of 20th & Brandywine, specializing in bubble tea, fro yo, and oddly, dog treats. Then the business got closed down, ostensibly due to a zoning problem. They reopened in the spring, and installed some funky panels on the storefront, revealing some nice-looking old signage in the process. 

As the panels were being installed

We passed by last week, pondering a bubble tea, and discovered the store to be closed and the paneling removed. Now, the storefront looks like we suspect it did many years ago. Probably better, even.

Recent view

The owners of the business tried to sell their establishment earlier this year for $150K before slashing the sale price to $65K. It seems they found no buyers are were forced to shut their doors. Does anyone in the neighborhood have any insight into what happened here? Was business just not strong enough to sustain the place? Did the paneling, or rather the violation due to the fact that it didn't fit into the context of the historic district, sink the business? Or is there something else going on here?

Fill in those gaps!

Last year, a new mixed-use building appeared on the corner of 19th & Fairmount, replacing a long vacant lot and covering a mural of Noam Chomsky. And while some neighbors may miss the public art, their sorrows are at least partially drowned by the presence of the wonderful Tela's Market & Kitchen on the ground floor of this building. In our book, a bunch of apartments plus a vibrant commercial space is the perfect addition to Fairmount Avenue where Spring Garden meets Francisville

A couple of weeks ago, the same developer that brought us the aforementioned building broke ground on another project just a couple blocks away. 1720 Fairmount Ave. has for years been a vacant lot used for the storage of bricks and stone. When we passed by the other day thanks to a reader tip, we discovered that construction is underway at this location.

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