West Philly

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.

Vacant lot next to Clark Park should finally get redeveloped

The saga of 4224 Baltimore Ave. has taken a satisfying turn.

Photo from awhile ago but it still applies

We first pondered this property back in the spring of 2012, wondering how it was possible that a large vacant lot could exist across the street from the wonderful Clark Park. A year later, we were excited to learn about a by-right plan for 92 apartments, though details were lacking at the time. After another year, we covered an impressive community outreach process from developers the Clarkmore Group with help from U3 Advisors, which resulted in a host of changes to the project. The revised plans called for 132 condos and rental apartments, retail, and roughly 1:2 parking. Last fall though, the project seemed like it was in jeopardy as the developers were looking for an ordinance, but Councilwoman Blackwell was unwilling to oblige despite requests from multiple community groups.

Will move from their space on the 4900 block

Two summers ago, we first introduced talk about Greensgrow expanding from Kensington to a West Philly location at a long vacant lot at 51st & Baltimore. And it was exciting to see that this community urban farm that nineteen years ago started as a hydroponic lettuce farm on a reclaimed brownfield site was eyeing expansion into a new neighborhood.

Possible plans to expand the Mercy Wellness Center seemingly scuttled that idea, even though Greensgrow had held community meetings collecting input for the lot; though all in good faith, it seems. Instead, Greensgrow West opened last spring at 4912 Baltimore Ave., in the space once occupied by Elena's Soul. That space, you'll recall, became available only because the previous business burned down.

But not so fast, an appeal is floating out there

It looks like there's development on the way for a long quiet parcel in Cedar Park. For years, a vacant building and a fair-sized surface parking lot have occupied a prime corner where Cedar Avenue intersects with Baltimore Avenue near 46th Street. Permits were issued this spring for the demolition of the building at 4610 Cedar Ave. which was most recently a Philadelphia Credit Union branch but has been vacant more often than not over the last decade.

In the past

We passed by recently and discovered the building is now gone.

Building is demolished

According to permits, the owners are planning a mixed-use building with eight apartments and a retail space on the first floor. The same family that owns Vietnam Cafe, Grill Fish Cafe, and the market on 47th Street have owned the property for years, and we'd have to imagine that a food-based use will be in the cards for the property. But we couldn't tell you what's coming, or even if it will definitely be a restaurant.

No more electric bikes, sadly

For years, an empty lot sat at 31st & Spring Garden, greeting or bidding farewell to those passing over the Spring Garden Bridge. For a number of those years a sign on the site broadcasted the possibility of a high-rise but that did not come to pass. Back in December, a three-story building, with plans for two floors of real estate office, and three apartments, started to rise. When we passed by recently, the exterior of the gray building was finished and the property fenced in, with signs advertising units for rent.

New building at 31st & Spring Garden

Meanwhile, just across the street at 3100 Spring Garden St., there are plans to turn the former Pedego electric bikes shop into a restaurant with four apartments above, according to a zoning app. The ZBA gave their approval earlier this month. West Side Properties LP acquired the property last March for $740K.

Pages