West Philly

Past our typical coverage area but still worth noting

In West Philly, a trench laden with railroad tracks separates the Mantua and Parkside neighborhoods. Some north-south streets, like 40th Street, pass over the tracks. Others, like 39th Street, stop in Mantua and pick up again in Parkside. 41st Street stands alone in that it once allowed travel between the neighborhoods, but due to a structurally unsound bridge it's been a dead-end for several years. But not for much longer.

Image from 2009. It was closed even before then.

A $10.8M project to demolish and rebuild the deteriorating bridge will once again allow travel between the neighborhoods on 41st Street. This bridge, though somewhat beyond our usual coverage area, runs between Mantua Avenue and Poplar Street.

The new bridge will be a "two-span, continuous structure with architectural concrete parapets and fencing," according to a Streets Department press release. The proposed roadway will include "two travel lanes with wide shoulders and sidewalks, new street lighting, signing, line striping, ADA curb ramps, and enhanced safety features."

Building will be sold instead

This past winter, when Mission First Housing Group announced plans to demolish the burned out building at 4534-36 Spruce St. and construct affordable housing, there was a sigh of relief. Since catching fire in 2011, the building that previously hosted the Transition to Independent Living Center has sat unoccupied, a bruise in an otherwise very strong Spruce Hill neighborhood.

In the past

However, due in part to budget issues, namely, not having had funds allocated for the 24-unit affordable housing project, Mission First has tabled their proposal, West Philly Local has reported. Instead, the building is for sale. WPL indicated that one neighbor in particular was aggressively opposed to the project and planned to appeal any favorable ruling from the ZBA. This mirrors comments Barry Grossbach, Spruce Hill Community Association's zoning chair, made to us several months ago, about various concerns voiced by neighbors. At that time, developers were in conversation with the SHCA, community and neighbors for months. Those conversations were related to height and massing, not the fact that these units were planned as affordable housing. With the building now for sale, it's a shame to see something so long and so far along fizzle out.

A third location, second in Philadelphia

Back in 2010, the first Nesting House location opened its doors in the Mount Airy neighborhood. This store wants to break the "traditional route of consumerism," offering high quality used goods in a setting that's more boutique than thrift store. They realized success and continued to grow, and in 2013 they opened a second location in Collingswood, New Jersey. 

Now, two years later, owners Jen and Chris Kinka are poised to open a third location at 4501 Baltimore Ave. in West Philly. Before their projected August opening, some involved renovations must be done. According to Jen Kinka, they'll be renovating the entire building which means refinishing crumbling interior walls, rewiring, and fixing the heating system.

4500 block of Baltimore Ave.
Space is on the corner

“We just couldn't logistically figure West Philly out two-and-a-half years ago,” Kinka said. But they wanted to. Before they opened the Collingswood location, the Kinkas had their eyes on two Philadelphia neighborhoods: East Passyunk, and West Philly. They already had a number of customers who drove out to their Mt. Airy Location from West and South Philly. So they knew that's where they wanted to be.

Plus some shameless self promotion!

Crossing the Walnut Street Bridge, you quickly notice two of the newer buildings to join Philadelphia's skyline. And really, they're just two parts of the same project.

FMC plus Evo

FMC Tower at Cira Centre South is the one with frontage on Walnut Street and it's more easily identified as the one that's very much under construction at the moment. We first showed you a rendering of this building a couple years ago, but haven't checked in since very early on in the construction process. In the time that's passed, the designs have changed some, and we can now expect a 49 story building with office space for FMC Corporation, 268 apartment units, and 25K sqft of retail space. The building, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli and BLT Architects, will cast a unique silhouette.

A fine place to spend a summer evening

Imagine tiered wooden platforms mixed with mingling flowers, reds, blues and yellows, among planters and vine canopies; bright, custom-made swings; and rotisserie cooked meals. All of these are among the first wave of permanent fixtures at The Porch, the excellent public space in front of 30th Street Station.

Created four years ago by reimagining how to better use some parking spaces and a slab of concrete, The Porch has become one of the city's most recognizable outdoor spaces. Last month, University City District revealed plans for the Porch 2.0. When we visited the other day, we discovered a much improved model.

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