Naked Philly Blog Posts – OCF Realty Wed, 21 Feb 2018 22:58:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Naked Philly Blog Posts – OCF Realty 32 32 More New Homes Planned For a Busy Block of E. Susquehanna Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:33:44 +0000 The post More New Homes Planned For a Busy Block of E. Susquehanna appeared first on OCF Realty.


If you find yourself on the 2000 block of E. Susquehanna at some point in the near future, a zoning notice at 2050 E. Susquehanna Ave. might just catch your eye. This vacant lot sits immediately next door to a relatively new home and has a couple more empty lots in the other direction. Seems like a no brainer for redevelopment, given all the construction we’ve seen in this area over the last few years, no?

Zoning notice

It’s such a no brainer, the zoning notice seems entirely superfluous. So what’s going on here? Taking a peek at the zoning notice only added to our confusion. The owners are looking to build a new home at 2050 E. Susquehanna Ave. and two more homes on the lots next door. The properties are zoned for single-family use, so the zoning application is just a simple matter of lot line relocation. And that’s exactly what’s going on here. 2050 E. Susquehanna Ave. is quite skinny, a little less than 13′ wide. The two properties next door are considerably wider, each stretching 17′ from side to side.

So the owners of the property are seemingly widening the littlest lot and shrinking the bigger lots to make three lots with relatively normal widths. The new lots, we suspect, will each be a little more than 15.5′ wide, which is half a foot below the minimum lot width required by the zoning code. Hence the zoning notice and the additional months of costs and uncertainty for the developers. Truly, this is a fine example of a minimal dimensional variance and wouldn’t you know it, the developers got approved last week. Ah, the joys of the technical details of the zoning code!

Newer homes, looking north
Newer homes and construction, looking south

Soon enough, the developers will get to work building three new homes here, and these new homes will fit in nicely with the collection of other new homes that have risen on this block over the last several years. These homes have sold at prices in the high $300K to high $400K range, depending on the size of the home and the timing of the construction. Figure these homes will sell for over $400K when it’s all said and done.

View of the block less than ten years ago

Looking back at what was happening on this block in 2008, all this new construction is really incredible. By our count, this block has already seen almost 20 new homes or total rehabs in the last decade, and at least three more are on the horizon. We wish we could say we predicted this, but we didn’t think anything like this was in store for this part of town. Had we known, you can be sure we’d have built most of these homes ourselves!

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A Couple of Homes Filling a Long Vacant Point Breeze Corner Tue, 20 Feb 2018 21:04:35 +0000 The post A Couple of Homes Filling a Long Vacant Point Breeze Corner appeared first on OCF Realty.


The 20th & Dickinson intersection has experienced some major changes over the last several years, and that trend is set to continue. You may recall, there was a large vacant lot on the southwest corner, but Innova built three affordable homes there in 2011-12. On the southeast corner, a simple addition/renovation project somehow dragged on for years but now appears to be finished. We told you about a year ago, that the mixed-use building on the northeast corner was going to auction, and that property eventually sold for $260K. It’s currently lost all its windows, with the new owners looking for a first floor tenant and actively renovating the upper floors into three units. Hopefully, as part of this effort, they’ll expand the window opening on the 2nd floor of the 20th Street side, as it looks like it was once much larger.

Construction across the street

But all of this is pretty much a review of stuff you already knew or could have predicted. The news that we have to share is on the northwest corner, a double-wide property that’s been sitting vacant for at least a decade, and surely for several years before we can remember. We were passing by the property the other day and noticed that there’s now a construction fence around the property. Surely this means that redevelopment is on the horizon,right?

Construction fence around the lot

Developers bought the property back in 2015, paying $140K, and then new developer stepped in a year later, paying just under $200K. Now those developers are pursuing a project that’s <gasp> totally by right. Look for two new homes to rise here in the near future, neither of which will include parking. Those homes will surely sell for a pretty penny, and their construction will complete the lengthy transformation for this intersection. It’s hard to believe just how much has changed, but it’s pretty much par for the course these days in Point Breeze.

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Update: A New “Joule” in South Kensington Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:07:11 +0000 The post Update: A New “Joule” in South Kensington appeared first on OCF Realty.


North American Street is a bit of a challenging corridor, clinging to its industrial character while surrounded on both sides by residential development pressure. The improvements to the surrounding neighborhood have driven up land values on N. American St., but the zoning remains industrial, creating redevelopment difficulties for anyone that wants to do a project that isn’t by-right. Techadelphia, the mixed-use project under construction on the 1500 block, likely got approval because of the sizable co-working space on the first floor and in the basement. A much smaller project across the street at 1500 N. American St. got approval a couple years ago for a first floor art gallery and an apartment upstairs. We were pleased about that project, as it was replacing an ugly one-story garage.

In the past

Somewhere along the way, the project at 1500 N. American St. changed a bit. The residential unit count has grown to four, and the art gallery has shifted to a show room and office for Solar States, a solar company that already operates out of the building next door. As you might expect from a building that will house a solar business, this project will have a significant solar component. Look for a 40 panel solar array on the roof, with 10 panels per residential unit. With an expected 4,000 KWh per unit per year, the solar panels will cover most of the annual electric costs for the residents of the building.

In light of the solar energy aspect, the developers are calling the project ‘The Joule,’ hence our terrible pun in the title of this post. For those that don’t remember high school science class, one Joule is equal to the work done by the force of one newton when its point of application moves one meter in the direction of action of the force. Of course, if you’re like us, you probably could have recited that from memory and definitely didn’t need help from us or Wikipedia.

Current view
Project rendering

The residential units will each have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and will range in size from just under 1,000 sqft to just under 1,300 sqft. They’ll be offered as condos, and it should be interesting to see what kind of prices the developers are able to get at this location. Surely, the unique look to the building and the solar power perks will be strong selling points. Having Crane Arts next door and Reanimator Coffee a block away won’t hurt either.

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Post Brothers Takes Over Apple Lofts Project Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:56:14 +0000 The post Post Brothers Takes Over Apple Lofts Project appeared first on OCF Realty.


When Iron Stone Real Estate Partners introduced a plan in 2011 to redevelop the Apple Storage building at 780 S. 52nd St. into a significant residential development, we felt like the project was a bit ahead of its time. And wouldn’t you know it, even through the project got zoning approval in early 2012, the project stalled out before the end of the year because of financing difficulties. It seems that banks weren’t lining up around the block to fund a major project this far into West Philly, at least back then. We told you at the time that the project was on the market, with a $2M asking price.

Old rendering

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that nothing happened in the years that followed. A big vacant building continued to sit vacant, as it seems potential buyers were scared off by the asking price, the financing struggles, or a combination thereof. Finally though, at the end of last year, Post Brothers bought the building for $2.41M. This isn’t the first foray for this developer in this part of town; as we told you last month, Post also owns the Garden Court Plaza building at 47th & Pine and is currently trying to get ZBA approval for two new residential towers at that site.

The ZBA won’t be involved in the Apple Lofts project though, as they already made a ruling half a decade ago and the former owners were diligent in properly extending their permits. That being said, Post Brothers is definitely making some changes to the project, through administrative review. The originally approved plan called for 112 apartments, but the revised project will increase the unit count to 153. At the same time, the number of parking spaces is coming down, from 92 to 69. We see there’s a dog park planned as part of the development, perhaps that’s what’s replacing those parking spots?

We also think the building will look a little different than the image in the rendering above. When we passed by the property the other day, we discovered that construction is now underway, and we spied expanded window openings on the upper levels of the building. That’s great news, as the current window openings are definitely lacking. It’s not entirely clear whether the old rendering called for bigger windows, but if not, it’s incredibly encouraging to see that change taking place.

View of the building
Popping open larger window openings

Like we said, this project was ahead of its time just a handful of years ago. And lenders seemingly agreed with us, balking at the idea of financing a large scale residential project on 52nd Street. But times have changed. We’ve seen construction and commerce slowly trickle west on Baltimore Avenue, with major changes on the 5100 block. In addition, we’ve told you about several projects south of Baltimore Avenue, as developers are growing more comfortable with getting students that want to live on the edge of Southwest Philadelphia. The Apple Lofts project should only reinforce those trends, and will surely encourage other developers that haven’t bought into this section of town, to date.

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Eastern Tower Under Construction at 10th & Vine, Finally Mon, 19 Feb 2018 13:13:48 +0000 The post Eastern Tower Under Construction at 10th & Vine, Finally appeared first on OCF Realty.


If you’ve been near 10th & Vine of late, you’ve surely noticed the major project under construction on the northwest corner. We first covered this project, the Eastern Tower Community Center, waaaaaay back in the summer of 2011, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that the project finally broke ground. This property was a surface parking lot for many years, but at present it’s the site of a new building that’s risen up four stories to date. And there’s plenty more to come.

View from 11th Street
View from 10th Street

More specifically, there’s another sixteen stories yet to come. If we may do the math for you, that means this building will eventually rise twenty stories. Once it’s done, the structure will have retail on the ground floor, a community center on the second floor, office space on the next two floors, and fifteen stories of apartments, with a total of 150 residential units. The project will obviously be a game changer for the area, providing height and density at a previously underused site and offering a community center space for Chinatown. According to Curbed, a pre-school and a restaurant had already laid claim to two of the three retail spaces in the building as of a few months ago.

It may seem strange that we first covered this project almost seven years ago and the construction only recently got started. As a matter of fact, the project’s history dates back much farther, having first been conceived in the 1990s as a four story building with no residential component. By the time we got around to writing about the project in 2011, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation had just received approval from the Redevelopment Authority to acquire the property and had a plan to build a 23 story building. Those plans were similar to the project that’s getting built, but included three extra floors of apartments. The look of the building was also fairly different.

Rendering from 2011. Image from Plan Philly.

By the time 2014 rolled around, the look of the building had evolved, as the image below from Next City demonstrates.

Rendering in 2014. Image from Next City.

Unfortunately, the final plan for the facade is, in our estimation, a step down from the previous iterations.

Final rendering

We have to think that these choices were made less in the interest of design and more in the interest of value engineering. After all, this is a project that will include a community center and a decent amount of affordable housing, and it’s getting a sizable chunk of public funding, so we understand the practical side of reducing costs by making the facade less ambitious. Still, it feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity to have a statement building in a highly visible location on Philadelphia’s skyline. What do you think? Would it be worth it to spend additional public dollars to make a more impressive facade? Or is it what’s inside that counts, especially when limited government funds are involved?

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Catfish Cafe Redux on the Edge of East Falls? Fri, 16 Feb 2018 19:35:04 +0000 The post Catfish Cafe Redux on the Edge of East Falls? appeared first on OCF Realty.


As we were scanning the ZBA calendar for this week, a project at 4001-07 Ridge Ave. caught our eye. The property, which sits between East Falls and Allegheny West, is pretty large, with over 11K sqft of space, and the vast majority of the property has been sitting as vacant land for well over a decade. The northernmost section of the property, 4007 Ridge Ave. is also vacant land, but that hasn’t been the case for terribly long. There was a building here, at the corner of Ridge Avenue and Scotts Lane, which was home to the popular Catfish Cafe back in the 1980s into the early 1990s. The building had been home to several other restaurants over its lifetime, and according to East Falls Local, a new restaurant was planned for the building’s retail space as recently as 2015

Building was demoed a couple months ago

That idea fell to the wayside somewhere along the line, and the building and the lots next door sold to developers last summer. Soon after, those developers set the wheels in motion to demolish the former Catfish Cafe, with an eye toward developing the entire property with one new building. The plan for the parcel is fairly exciting given the location, calling for a four-story building with 27 apartments, ground-floor retail, and basement parking. As we said, the project was scheduled to go to the ZBA this week, but it was continued to a later date. We don’t know whether the continuance was due to a circumstance with the developer, or whether it came at the behest of a community group hoping for changes to the project.

Current view of the property
View from the south
Laurel Hill Cemetery across the street

Without knowing the ins and outs of the neighborhood politics in this part of town, this seems like an intuitive project for a property that’s been ridiculously underused for a long time. It certainly would have been ideal for the developers to maintain the building that formerly housed the Catfish Cafe, as it had some nice looking bones and would have offered some architectural diversity next to a contemporary building. But we can also appreciate the thought process behind building the largest new building possible, maximizing layout efficiencies for the residential units and creating the largest possible commercial space and underground parking lot. Can anyone that lives nearby and perhaps attended a community meeting give us a sense of how the neighbors responded to this project? Assuming it does eventually get built, should we start looking more closely for development carrying over from East Falls into Allegheny West?

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What Will Replace a Little Point Breeze Church? Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:04:01 +0000 The post What Will Replace a Little Point Breeze Church? appeared first on OCF Realty.


A reader reached out to us earlier this week, and gave us the heads up about some ongoing demolition at the corner of 21st & Reed. This is a bit of an odd intersection, as it’s not only the point at which 21st and Reed cross, but Point Breeze Avenue passes by to the north and creates one of those triangular intersections we see from time to time when diagonal streets disrupt the grid. In other words, 1401-03 S. 21st St. isn’t technically on the neighborhood commercial corridor, but it sits right across from it. It’s one of those rare properties where mixed-use makes just as much sense as residential use.

In the past

Maybe that’s why a church made its home at this corner for so many years. The property had been used as the Mercy Seat Tabernacle Baptist Church for a long time but the church vacated the building, we believe, in 2012. Developers bought the property last fall, and a fire struck the building less than a month later. Thankfully, the building was sitting empty and there were no injuries or casualties. We have to think that the developers intended to demolish the former church no matter what, but the fire surely cemented that plan. Fortunately, the building itself was nothing special, as opposed to so many church demolitions we’ve seen over the years.

Current view

Maybe that’s why a church made its home at this corner for so many years. The property had been used as the Mercy Seat Tabernacle Baptist Church for a long time but the church vacated the building, we believe, in 2012. Developers bought the property last fall, and a fire struck the building less than a month later. Thankfully, the building was sitting empty and there were no injuries or casualties. We have to think that the developers intended to demolish the former church no matter what, but the fire likely cemented that plan.

We don’t see any permits at this time beyond those pulled for demolition, so we don’t know what will ultimately happen with this property. But given its residential zoning, its double-wide nature, and the challenges in opening a business on Point Breeze Avenue, we have to think that the eventual plans will call for a pair of town homes. A subdivision will require a zoning variance and the property isn’t very deep, so we believe the developers will seek a ZBA variance to build homes here, and that might explain why we don’t see any more permits at the moment. Two homes seem like a reasonable idea for this location, but you can never be sure of how the community will respond to a variance request in this neighborhood.

Looking east on Reed Street
Point Breeze Avenue, across the street

As we said, residential or commercial construction could make sense here. To the east, including on the parcel immediately next door, we see homes that are relatively fresh to the scene or still under construction. In the other direction is a commercial corridor that has just recently started to emerge from a lengthy slumber. You may recall, we told you just the other month about a plan for a restaurant of some kind for the long vacant triangular building right across the street. And don’t forget that Tasty ToastMattei Family Pizza, and Philly Tacos are all less than a block away from here. So if homes do indeed get built on the southeast corner of 21st & Reed, the people who eventually move there will have several dining options very close to home. And if it’s a mixed use building, it’s clear that things are starting to pick up on the adjacent corridor and there’s still room for more businesses.

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We Spied a Zoning Notice on a Handsome Building Near 29th & Girard Thu, 15 Feb 2018 20:43:45 +0000 The post We Spied a Zoning Notice on a Handsome Building Near 29th & Girard appeared first on OCF Realty.


We were in Brewerytown earlier today, and a zoning notice at 1222 N. 29th St. caught our eye in passing. In spying the zoning notice, we had an excuse to stare at this wonderful edifice for a moment, admiring its gabled roof, intact cornice, and the brickwork on the facade. Curious as to whether anyone had written about this property in the past, we gave the address a quick Google and discovered that someone had indeed covered this property before… us.

Great building

In October of 2014, we told you that the owners of the property had made an appeal to the ZBA to open a tattoo studio on the first floor of the building, but the case had been continued. The project went back to the ZBA in November, and was held for discussion, with a denial coming the next month. Why did the ZBA deny the application? We don’t know. What we do know is that there’s now a new effort to open a business on the first floor of this building, and the proposal might surprise you. Yup, the plans are calling for a tattoo studio.

We have to think that some people that live in the neighborhood can provide a little more context here. Does anyone know why the 2014 application got denied? Can someone fill us in as to whether the current application is the same operator that tried a few years ago or whether it’s somebody new? Also, Electric Temple Tattoo is located around the corner, on the 2800 block of W. Girard. Does it make sense for there to be two tattoo places in this area within half a block of each other?

Bar a few doors down
Just a few steps from Girard

You can see, the building was built for mixed-use and the first floor retail space has retained its commercial identity even though it’s been empty for many years. We generally would prefer for new businesses to open on the West Girard corridor in this part of town, but the corridor does wrap around to 29th Street, so a business would definitely make sense here. Will that business be a tattoo studio in the near future? Or will that effort fall through again, opening up the opportunity for some other business? Or maybe the space will continue to sit empty for the next few years, and a tattoo place will give it another go in 2021.

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Vastly Superior Plan Emerges For Mantua Supermarket Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:45:05 +0000 The post Vastly Superior Plan Emerges For Mantua Supermarket appeared first on OCF Realty.


Several months ago, we directed your attention to the 3600 block of Haverford Avenue, where we spied some heavy machinery moving dirt around. At the time, we took the opportunity to remind you about the recent history of the block. For those not in the know that don’t feel like clicking through, there was a plan back in 2013 to build a supermarket in Mantua which would have spanned four city blocks between 36th and 38th Streets, Haverford Avenue and Mount Vernon Street. The plan was generally awful, and would have amounted to a suburban-style shopping center being dropped in the middle of a residential area. To assemble the necessary land for the project, the City the took numerous privately owned properties by eminent domain. Artist James Dupree, whose workshop is in an old warehouse on the 3600 block of Haverford, stood up to the City and refused to give up his building. It was his effort that ultimately submarined the entire project.

36th & Haverford, a few months ago
The studio that's the only building left on the block
An old version of the supermarket plan

As we told you a few months ago, the City took a couple years to reevaluate their plans and last year generated an RFP that invited potential developers to present plans to redevelop the two eastern blocks of the supermarket site, not including James Dupree’s studio. The RFP specifically did not prescribe what should be built on the site and only provided vague guidance, indicating that the project should have a focus on social impact, be “beneficial to the community,” and be “financially viable under current market conditions.” The lack of specific guidance must have made it rather tough for interested parties to handicap their odds of success, but we know that at least one development team made a pitch for the site.

We know this because of a story from Inga Saffron on, which details the plan now being pitched by the team representing a joint venture between Lomax Real Estate Partners, Fuchs Realty Partners and the Mount Vernon Manor Community Development Corporation. The plan is a dramatic improvement over the previous project, as it takes a decidedly urban approach to the redevelopment of these properties. The first phase will include a 72-unit rental apartment building at the corner of 37th & Haverford, with a roughly 15K sqft supermarket on the first floor. 20% of the units in the building will be reserved for families earning under the city’s median income level, while the balance, we imagine, will target students. Here’s a rendering and a site plan for the project, with a hat tip to KSK for the design work.

Apartment building rendering. Image from
Current site plan. Image from

The northwest quadrant of the site will include a parking lot for the supermarket, while the future phases on the eastern side of the project will include a number of small residential buildings, a little bit more parking, a small commercial space, and a public plaza that centers on James Dupree’s studio. The project still needs to go before the Mantua Civic Association this week and will ultimately need to go to the ZBA before it can move forward. We don’t know the nitty gritty details of neighborhood politics in this part of Mantua, so we can’t be sure how the community will receive the project. But we hope that they’re willing to embrace the framework and work with the developers to improve it on the margins, as it seems like a winning project for an area that’s been a food desert for generations. Perhaps most importantly, it seems that Mr. Dupree is on board, and that can only mean good things for the likelihood of this project moving forward.

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Vegan Starbucks Planned Near Broad & Reed Wed, 14 Feb 2018 17:39:06 +0000 The post Vegan Starbucks Planned Near Broad & Reed appeared first on OCF Realty.


Philadelphia is pretty much drowning in caffeine. Starbucks locations dot Center City, with Dunkin Donuts possessing an impressive footprint as well. Don’t forget the national chains with smaller footprints, like Au Bon Pan and Saxby’s. Then there are some local chains, like La Colombe, Rival Brothers, and OCF Coffee House (shameless plug!). Filling in the gaps are the little neighborhood shops, which generally serve a hyper local clientele and often serve as place makers in their communities.

At some point, we suspect, enough places will open and the coffee market will be pretty much saturated. But it hasn’t happened yet, and we keep seeing new spots open up all over town. Last week, we learned about yet another coffee shop in the works, this time in a recently renovated building just off South Broad Street. We actually covered this building1401 Reed St., about two years ago, shortly before that renovation effort began. It was in generally cruddy shape at the time.

In the past

When we last wrote about the building, we told you that the building might have been home to the first liquor license in Philadelphia after the appeal of Prohibition. New owners had just stepped in and were planning to renovate the retail space and create two apartments on the upper floors of the building. They were expecting a restaurant tenant of some kind, and were open to a boozy or non-boozy concept. It turns out, the latter is what’s in store.

Current view

According to a story from Eater, look for a place called Batter & Crumbs to open here in the coming months. Batter & Crumbs is already established as a vegan wholesale bakery in Delaware County and this would be their first retail effort. The owners are hoping to create something of a “vegan Starbucks” in the 16-seat establishment, offering coffee and tea, their own pastries, and pre-made sandwiches.

Parking lot across the street
Car wash to the south

As we said before, this location has some quirks to it. The address is 1401 Reed St., which would seem to imply that it’s at the corner of Broad & Reed. But that’s not the case, it’s actually at Carlisle & Reed. The big parking lot immediately to the east and the carwash to the south don’t exactly make for a wonderful pedestrian experience between Broad & Carlisle. But we don’t think this will be a barrier for people seeking coffee and tasty vegan treats. Once it opens, we expect that Batter & Crumbs will be a welcome addition for people who live nearby and a destination for vegans for whom Grindcore House is too much of a hike.

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