West Philly

Philly's first queer-owned tattoo shop

Over the past few years the western end of the Baltimore Avenue commercial corridor has seen considerable improvements. These changes were anchored by the relocation of the Mariposa market on the 4800 block in 2012, and since then, we've seen the openings of Little Baby's Ice Cream, The Marvelous, and Greensgrow farm on the 4900 block. among other new businesses. The latter appeared at the site where Elena's Soul burned down on Christmas Eve 2012

Greensgrow, last summer

The most recent is Spirited Tattooing Coalition, set to open this month at 4918 Baltimore Ave., a location last occupied by a market. The tattoo parlor will double as a local art gallery, and will be run by Jasmine Morrell. Morrell will be the proprietor of "the first queer-owned tattoo shop in Philadelphia."

Plans still coming into focus for huge site

In the last few years, we've seen major redevelopment in University City, like the 3737 Market development, an 11-story office building with ground-floor retail and the still-under-construction 3737 Chestnut tower. While those projects have clearly coming into focus, plans for the future of University City High School at 3601 Filbert St. are still becoming clear.

The shuttered school

University City High School sits on a massive parcel of land between Lancaster and Filbert, 36th and 38th Streets. The Walnut Center and Drew Elementary also once shared this parcel, but Drew was razed earlier this year and TWC before that. When we passed the site last week, rubble was piled like junk heaps across the site. UCHS has yet to be demolished, but it's coming. Last year we wrote about plans from Drexel and Wexford Science and Technology, who envisioned a major mixed-use development on the site. Those plans included the vision of a new public school. According to Niki Gianakis, of Drexel, the abatement of the University City High School building is continuing and the actual demolition will start in mid-April.

But another restaurant is in line to take over their space

For so many years, Chilis held down the northwest corner of 38th & Chestnut, on the edge of Penn's campus. Recently, the chain restaurant shut its doors and when we passed by recently there were signs advertising a "short term lease" opportunity.

Former Chilis

Apparently someone has already jumped on the space, as the Daily Pennsylvanian reports signs in the windows of the restaurant advertising a new restaurant called Tarka. The restaurant will serve some kind of Asian cuisine, but beyond that we don't have any more details.

Great use for a space next to a gas station

It's been relatively quiet along Baltimore Avenue on our end of late. Last month, an SHCA meeting for plans to turn a vacant 43rd & Baltimore corner into 132 condos and apartments was rescheduled due to a fizzled blizzard. The meeting should take place sometime this month. A few blocks away though, an old auto garage next to a gas station at 46th Street has plans for new action.

Muay Thai kickboxing coming upstairs

Soon, the second floor of that building at 4542 Baltimore Ave. will be converted into the 8 Limbs Academy, a Muay Thai kickboxing gym. 8 Limbs plans to open by March, according to the West Philly Local. It will feature an open floor plan covering 2,200 sqft of space with over a thousand sqft of mats, and will offer youth and adult classes.

This lot has been waiting a long time

For as long as we can remember, the corner of 36th & Sansom has been vacant. This parcel, on Penn's campus and across the street from the bookstore, hasn't been some unkempt lot like so many we've seen around town, but it's still been a curious vacancy at a high-traffic corner.

In the past

Recently, a student reached out, notifying us that a fence had appeared around the property. Naturally, we set out to learn what's going on.

Current view

A story from last month's Philadelphia Business Journal provided the answer. According to the PBJ, this is part of a $77.6M project that will eventually result in the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics. Not only is Penn building a new structure on the corner, but they're also totally renovating the West Philadelphia Title and Trust Co. building, which will be connected to the new building. The design work on the project was done by KPMB Architects.