Temple Area

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.

Couldn't they have done this before classes started?

Earlier this week we were in the mood for a crepe, and we decided that a visit was in order to the Creperie at Temple food truck on the 1200 block of Norris Street. On this lunch-seeking mission, we were unaware of two things. First, classes have started at Temple and the campus is now crawling with undergrads. Not such a big deal, but it made for a longer than expected line at the food truck. Perhaps more relevant for a real estate blog, we also noticed that Barton Hall is getting torn down.

Corner of 13th & Norris
Looking down 13th Street
Middle of the building

Plans for the demolition of this building, constructed in 1959, have been in the works for some time. This makes us wonder why the demolition effort couldn't have happened over the summer, before the students came back to campus. For the next few weeks, as this building comes down, passing by will be rather unpleasant, between the noise and the dust. As it was, waiting on line for a crepe half a block away wasn't a treat.

We don't know what's next

Cecil B. Moore Avenue has seen all kinds of changes in recent years, as the neighborhood close to Temple University has experienced an unprecedented wave of development. Walking down this street, you can see a mix of older buildings that have survived for about a hundred years and new structures which are generally used for student housing. Slowly, we're seeing demolition for some of the older buildings that have not been well maintained. And the other day we spotted another one that looks like it will soon come down.

Former cleaners

1700 Cecil B. Moore Ave. was once a cleaners and it retains some of the old signage. The projecting sign at the corner is pretty great and the "Frequent Cleaning Adds Beauty and Long Life" on the side of the building is amazing. But the newest sign on the building is perhaps the most interesting. It's a Notice of Demolition. Developers bought the property late last year for $235K and have pulled permits to tear it down. We don't know about their plans for the property, but they interestingly have listed the property for sale since a month after they bought it.

In either direction, there's a bunch of newer properties.