Compared to neighborhoods like East Kensington or Point Breeze, East Passyunk has seen hardly any new construction during the development boom of the last several years. Sure, there’s the occasional project here and there, but outside of one-off renovations, projects in this part of South Philly are the exception rather than the rule. And this phenomenon is explained quite easily. East Passyunk wasn’t considered a particularly cool place to live until Passyunk Avenue experienced a resurgence over the last decade, but the neighborhood remained relatively stable during the years that other parts of the city suffered severe disinvestment. In many parts of the city, as people moved away and property values cratered, buildings were left to deteriorate and the blight spiraled. Eventually, many of those neighborhoods were left with vast patches of empty land, ripe for redevelopment. And hence, we’ve seen numerous projects, large and small, in those areas.
Not to say that there’s been no vacancy or blight in and around East Passyunk, but it’s not nearly to the same extent as those other neighborhoods. And without the sizable parcels and the incredibly low price points at which they traded, there’s a much smaller development path in this section of South Philly. Instead of vacant land, the main opportunities in East Passyunk are underused property, most commonly former commercial or industrial buildings. This was exactly what happened on the 2000 block of S. Hutchinson St., a project we covered over the summer. Look for a similar phenomenon sometime soon on the corner of 9th & Emily.
This building was, for many years, home to D’Amario’s Auto Body, a business we believed to be associated with the auto garage to the north. But it seems that the two businesses were not related, as the business next door is Mike’s Car Care, which appears is still operating. D’Amario’s is gone though, and the new owners of the property are looking to tear down its former home.
The plan for the property would then divide it into five new parcels, with the developers building a duplex on each new lot. Certainly, ten apartments would seem to make considerable sense at this location, even though it’s five blocks away from Passyunk Avenue. Though the corridor is a bit of a shlep, the Bok Building is just one block away and we believe that this project wouldn’t be happening if Bok wasn’t home to a bunch of small businesses, including a coffee shop and a couple of restaurants. All of this assumes that the ZBA approves the project, of course.
Taking things a step further, we wonder whether Mike’s Car Care might consider selling their property at some point in the near future to developers looking to pursue a similar course. Sure, nobody likes when their favorite auto garage closes or relocates, but as the surrounding neighborhood continues to improve, the land will eventually become more valuable than the location for this business, if that hasn’t happened already. They may well stick around, or they might start seeking greener (less valuable) pastures.