Temple Area

Some of it is due to the annual Builders' Challenge

We were quite shocked, four months ago, to discover a Habitat For Humanity affordable housing development under construction on the 2000 block of N. 16th St., in the vicinity of Temple University. Construction near Temple that's not student housing? Inconceivable!

Vizzini can't believe it either

The project, which is being built in two phases, is called Diamond Park, and will ultimately entail the construction of 21 two story homes on long vacant lots that were previously owned by City agencies. The first phase, 12 units between Page and Fontain Streets, got started about a month before our previous post. At that time, we saw a bunch of foundations and a pair of homes were just starting the framing process. A reader checked in the other day, having done some volunteer work over the weekend, encouraging us to check out the progress. The homes have come a pretty long way, we must say.

Unexpected, given construction started at the beginning of the year

Over the last few weeks, a couple of readers have reached out, wondering about the green space next to the Ingersoll Commons project at 16th & Master. For those unfamiliar with Ingersoll Commons, it's a 10-unit affordable housing project from Community Ventures which went up last year on an enormous parcel that had been sitting vacant for many years. This project is unique for a couple of reasons, not just because it's a new construction affordable housing project in the heart of student housing country. It's also quite unique because the plans include a large green space along 16th Street, taking up more of the parcel than the residential component. We told you about the groundbreaking for this park at the beginning of this year.

They don't build 'em like this anymore

The 1800 block of W. Thompson St. is a mixed bag of long-time residents, newer residents, affordable housing units, and a smattering of Temple students and young professionals. This makes a whole lot of sense, as it sits about a block north of Francisville and somewhat close to Temple's campus. But it's far enough away from both that it hasn't really seen the gentrification and redevelopment that have been so prominent in both areas. What it does have, though, is a row of eight homes that are quite unique, architecturally.

Awesome homes

Closer look

You can see, at least one of the homes in this row, 1835 W. Thompson St., has been lost to history. But the other homes have retained a number of architectural details, the likes of which you don't often see around town. On each home, underneath each window on the second and third floor, there's a 3x4 checkerboard pattern which is echoed on the gabled section up above. The homes also have strips of black bricks interrupting the mostly red brick facades, creating a racing stripe effect. Interestingly, the homes don't include any cornices to speak of, which is something you wouldn't expect for such impressive homes.

Wonderful news for an area that lacks access to fresh food

The Ridge Avenue redevelopment story is becoming a little old hat, with new mixed-use projects seemingly springing up every few weeks or so. It's important to note though, that all of those stories are about Ridge Avenue in Francisville, and once you cross Girard Avenue things continue to look extremely bleak. Just a couple blocks to the north, the east side of Ridge Avenue between Master and Oxford Streets is almost entirely vacant. It's a pretty amazing sight, especially when you consider all the progress on Ridge Avenue in Francisville.

Huge swath of vacant land on Ridge Ave.

Last week, Philly.com posted a story that indicates that change is in order for this stretch of Ridge Avenue. According to the story, PHA has signed an agreement with Sav-A-Lot to develop an 18,500 grocery store on one of the vacant Ridge Avenue parcels near Jefferson Street. PHA will foot the $4.5M construction bill and the grocery store will pay for the fit-out of the space. Incidentally, we couldn't find any info about Sav-A-Lot, the store mentioned in the article, so we have to assume that the deal is actually with Save-A-Lot, a grocery chain with 1,300 locations across the country.

Students, please stay close to your tourguide

Welcome, freshmen, to Temple University ca. summer 2016. As you can see, our growing campus has been turned into one giant construction project, and we're hoping some of it will be finished by the time classed start in a month. Let’s go over what’s in store for you (and what jealous alums never had a chance to experience).

First off, we have the new library. Recall that this building is a Snøhetta design, bringing a touch of Scandinavian class (and automated stacks retrieval) to what some would otherwise consider to be a rather plain campus. The last time we checked in, Barton Hall was a-coming down. Now, instead, there’s a big ole hole in the ground.

Library, coming sorta soon

Soon enough

Right next door to the upcoming library, we have a repaving project on Liacouras Walk. This is part of the Verdant Temple landscape improvements project -- like the section that was put in along Liacouras Walk between Alter Hall and the student health section last summer.