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.
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.
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?
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.
On Green Street in the Spring Garden neighborhood, it's a common sight to see former mansions converted into apartment buildings. In recent years, a couple of former churches have also gone through this transformation. To this point, though, we don't believe it's happened to any former convents. But that's exactly what appears to be on the horizon for the former Saint Francis Xavier convent at 2324 Green St., which happens to sit on a giant chunk of land around the corner from the Art Museum.
Art museum around the corner
If you live in this area, you've surely passed by this old building, which was once associated with the gorgeous Saint Francis Xavier Church on the north side of the street. While the former convent pales in comparison to the church, its stone facade has a unique and historic look, different from anything else in the area.
Yesterday a couple of readers gave us a shout, suggesting that construction had gotten underway on a new project at 16th & Fairmount. First, we wondered (with fingers crossed) whether the one-story restaurant on the corner was being demolished and replaced. Then we wondered (also with great hope) whether the vacant lots next door were being developed. We were wrong on both counts.
Corner of 16th & Fairmount
Homes not coming here
Instead, construction is just now getting started just to the south, at the corner of 16th & Melon. These lots have been vacant as well for quite some time, and were purchased by builder Dermot Mccartan from the Spring Garden Community Development Corporation late last year. Mccartan is building five luxury homes which will front Melon Street. We imagine that once the homes get built, the gate blocking access to this block will go away.