Spring Garden

Handsome former convent has been demolished

Last summer, we visited the long-shuttered former Saint Francis Xavier convent at 2322 Green St., located around the corner from the Art Museum. At the time, we were excited to share the news that the building would be coming back into use, with developers planning to convert the property into eighteen residential units. According to permits at the time, the developers were also going to add some additional buildings to the site, ultimately creating 48 apartments in a by-right project. The building, though not designated historic, had an interesting look that added to the architectural diversity of the historically certified Spring Garden District.

In the past

We say that the building had an interesting look because the building has now been demolished. Plans change, people.

And it's all good stuff

It's only been a few months since we last shared news about Fairmount Avenue between 17th & 18th Streets, but a sometimes few months can be like an eternity in the development world. The last time we were here, old windows and plywood had been pulled out of the old Mortgage Security Building at 18th & Fairmount. For the most part, a host of new windows have now been installed and the building looks fantastic. We still don't know what will be happening inside, but considering the improved appearance of the building, we hardly care.

Historic building remains vacant and blighted

It was over three years ago that we first brought 1601 Mount Vernon St., the "Purvis House," to your attention, lamenting the poor condition of this historic structure. In case you don't remember and don't feel like clicking back to the old story, the building was constructed in 1859 and was once home to Robert Purvis, a man considered to be the "President of the Underground Railroad." It's likely that Purvis helped thousands of former slaves achieve freedom. Today, what's left of his former home remains in bad shape. 

Current view
Looking down 16th Street

Miguel Santiago bought the property in 1977 and still owns it today. Several times, he's proposed redeveloping the property, most recently coming up with a plan to develop three condo units plus parking. In November of 2012, the rear of the property came down, either intentionally or because years of vacancy caused part of the building to crumble. In the years since, the rubble has been cleared and a hole in the ground has been filled, but no other work has taken place from what we can tell. Earlier this year, the owner altered a permit from 2011 to replace the eastern wall of the building with salvaged brick. But it doesn't look like that has happened as of yet, nor would we swear that it will ever happen.

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.