Temple Area

Overgrown doesn't begin to tell the tale

It's really not fair to single out one blighted property in the neighborhoods surrounding Temple. Despite the impressive number of projects in the area in recent years, there are still too many blighted buildings and vacant lots for us to count. So why, of all the vacant buildings in this part of town, do we bring 1731 Master St. to your attention today? 

1731 Master St.
View from the north
A look at the back, with less glare

The forest growing out of the building was what first drew our attention. Looking at some historical images from Google Street View, it's clear the building has had an ivy problem for years. But it's only recently that the ivy has become much more aggressive, seemingly intent on swallowing the building whole. This would indeed be a shame, because the building has some terrific bones.

Some blight is gone, some remains

We visited the 1300 block of N. Carlisle St. a couple years ago and lamented the poor condition of the block. Back then, the block was overrun with empty lots and there were only two buildings with Carlisle Street addresses. One of those "buildings" was a shanty surrounding by 'No Trespassing' signs. The Redevelopment Authority had sold 1316-18 N. Carlisle St., home to the shanty, back in 1998, but never did anything to ensure that the owner redevelop the properties. Instead the block looked like this for years:

The view in the past

Earlier this week, we were in the area, and spotted some construction. Just to the south of the properties we were just describing, new footers were recently poured at 1310-12 N. Carlisle St., formerly a vacant lot (of course). Plans call for a three-story building with a real estate office on the first floor and three apartments above. We wouldn't be surprised to see the office, necessary because of the commercial zoning, converted into an apartment at some point in the future.

City agencies and private owners for a change

The other day, after a visit to Brewerytown, we were taking College Ave. to get across town and noticed some blight at 2221 N. College Ave., a triangular property that's formed by the intersection with W. Thompson Street. Surely, this building was once a very interesting structure, given the unique footprint of the property. But looking at historical Google Street View maps, the thing has been vacant since at least 2009 and it's lacked a roof for the last few years. Developers bought the property back in 2012 and started doing some work (perhaps explaining the lack of a roof) but now there's a bunch of violations that they're ostensibly working to correct. In the meantime, the property looks like crap.

An interesting and unfortunate shell

In case you've never seen this part of College Ave. in person, Girard College sits directly to the south, on the other side of a handsome old stone wall.

They look fine but they're so expensive

Last summer, a reader wondered about the influx of tiny medians on North Broad Street between Hamilton Street and Glenwood Avenue and we quickly got to the bottom of the situation. It turns out the City was installing a series of fifty-plus-foot tall light masts on North Broad Street and the medians were the bases for those light masts. But then those bases sat quiescent for almost a year. Earlier this summer, if memory serves, many of the medians got metal extensions, in preparation for the light masts.

Light pole base

In recent weeks, the light masts have begun appearing, with contractors progressing from south to north. They're actually pretty cool looking.

Project includes the "Pope Francis House"

In the area surrounding Temple University, we've seen so much new construction, almost exclusively of the student housing variety. When we say "almost exclusively," that does leave a little room for construction that doesn't target the large group of transient renters looking to make the best time of their four (or more!) years of college. Habitat For Humanity is currently building five homes on the 1900 block of Turner Street, just south of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, which are being sold as affordable housing units. Previously, 1905-17 Turner St. were vacant lots. An unattractive PHA property next door was built a few years ago.

In the past

You can see, today the five two-story homes have now been framed out. One of them already has windows. The project has been dubbed HOPE Village.