West Philly

Two rows of triplexes, and more coming soon

There's a section of the 4600 block of Sansom Street between 46th Street and Farragut Street that's been rather bleak for at least the last decade, probably going back many more years. A single building on the south side of the block has survived the passage of time, with two huge vacant lots on either side. On the north side of the block, another vacant lot overlooks a gas station.

But things have changed dramatically as the student housing boom in West Philly has made its way here, and with considerable force.

Triplexes on 46th Street, foundation at the corner

A couple of years ago, we told you of plans for a row of quadplexes on the southwest corner of 46th & Sansom, and then last year we told you that the plans had changed and that instead it was triplexes under construction. And you may recall, these buildings were built modular by Vaughan Buckley Construction, arriving on the site having been mostly built someplace else. Those units are clearly finished and it appears as though they were occupied for at least part of this school year. At the corner, another triplex is forthcoming with a foundation already in place.

Looking to the west, we see more changes on the block.

We couldn't believe it either

A reader gave us the heads up the other day about some construction activity on the 3600 block of Spring Garden Street, a block that has somehow escaped our attention over the years. The construction we discovered was taking place at a three-building apartment complex at 3608-3612 Spring Garden St. with the name Elrae above each of the entrances. We have no doubt that these buildings have plenty of history to them but despite our best efforts we couldn't find much. Can you shed some light?

New tower will target Drexel grad students and employees

A little over a year ago, we told you about a plan for a sixteen story tower and twelve for-sale residential units at 3201 Race St., replacing a surface parking lot and some poorly maintained homes. At the time, the project had already gone through the Civic Design Review process, but it hadn't yet gone before the ZBA. Within a month of our story, the ZBA gave their approval, paving the way for the project to move forward. Often with projects of this scope and cost, it takes some time to get everything properly lined up, so it's no shock that it took almost a year for the project to get moving. But as a story from the Inquirer tells us, the official groundbreaking is happening today.

More accurately, for the last six months

Over the weekend, we made an early-morning trip to Trader Joe's (no lines before 9am on a Sunday!) and afterward we decided to take a detour through West Philly to see whether we could stumble upon any theretofore unknown construction. We sadly came up empty on the construction front, but we did spy something exciting and at the very least new to us. Crossing the Schuylkill via the Market Street Bridge, we discovered a collection of planters on both sides of the bridge, and four pergolas to boot.

Planters in the foreground along with the two newest Cira buildings plus the IRS building
North side of Market Street, looking east toward Center City
Greenery plus 30th Street Station and the original Cira Centre

Thousands of people cross this bridge every day, and these planters surely make the trip a little more pleasant. But where did they come from? When did they arrive on the scene?

Still a shame about the buildings that have been lost

We're a little embarrassed. When we told you a couple weeks ago about two missing Frank Furness Victorian twins at 3935 and 3937 Chestnut St., we were able to determine that the Ronald McDonald House had purchased the properties but we didn't know what they were planning for the large site. Commenters quickly filled in the information gap, sharing the news that RMH would be constructing an addition. We could have found this out for ourselves, had we just taken note of the sign on the fence next door.