Spring Garden

Love the retro signage

The last few years have been a bit of a roller coaster ride for 563 N. 20th St., a building on the northeast corner of 20th & Brandywine. For many years, it sat in a relatively unloved state, housing Park Grocery Co. on the first floor. Just looking at an image from 2009, we can't tell whether the business was still active or whether the storefront had been dark for a decade. Perhaps someone who lives nearby remembers?

This was the view for years

It seems that developers purchased the building in 2010, renovating the entire structure and creating two residential condo units and a commercial condo on the first floor. In 2013, we told you about plans for Momoyo, a frozen yogurt that also strangely advertised the sale of cotton candy and dog treats. The business opened and quickly got shut down because of a zoning issue. When they eventually reopened, they installed some funky, ultra-contemporary plastic panels around the entrance to the storefront, covering up the original signage.

It's been about a year in the making

The other day, we heard from a reader, bringing a renovation effort at 673 N. 15th St. to our attention. This project apparently stalled out for a time, but construction has now resumed. Plans call for three apartments above an office space, and at least some of the first floor windows are being expanded to make for a stronger street presence. We're holding out hope that the windows on the south side of the building will also grow before construction finishes.

Renovation at the corner of 15th & Melon

We actually brought this property to your attention about a year and a half ago, shortly after developer Loonstyn Properties bought the building. As part of that purchase, they also bought the warehouse next door on the 1400 block of Melon Street. At the time, we were hoping that the developers would maintain the existing property and perhaps renovate it into a residential reuse. The bones, after all, are pretty great.

New construction homes plus renovation are planned

The folks at MJL Properties have plans for more development, this time including some preservation in the Spring Garden Historic District. At 2001 North St., right behind Fairmount Pizza and half a block below Fairmount Avenue sits the old Potts Ice Cream factory.

Wonderful building at the corner

Built in 1947, the corner of the building is a great example of Art Moderne architecture, but the rear portion is a less exciting structure that looks like it could be the back of a high school. The developers intend to demolish most of the brick section of the building and replace it with new homes. As for the Art Moderne section, it would be improved with updates like painting or coating the buff brick facades, reconfiguring the height of bay windows along 20th Street, fixing the windows, and roof decks.

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.