Vending Machine For Cars Coming to Large Lot on Front Street

A radical parking idea!
Mr. Fox

We told you at the end of last year that Fishtown is losing Lou Wolff Auto, a used car dealership that's been doing business on Girard Avenue since the 1980s. That property is being sold and redeveloped, which definitely makes sense given the changes we've seen on the East Girard commercial corridor over the last few years. Still, it's probably a bummer for a) people who hate change, and b) people who liked the idea of buying a car from a dealership in Fishtown. But it seems the car dealership hole in the neighborhood will be quickly filled, at least according to a recent story from Philly.com.


Image of an existing Carvana location, from Philly.com

The story tells us that Core Realty has an agreement to lease their property at 1049 N. Front St. to a unique car dealership concept, Carvana. We're predisposed to like this business, as we believe the name is a portmanteau of the words "car" and "nirvana," and who doesn't like a good portmanteau? The idea behind this business is that customers buy used cars online and then come to the Carvana "dealership" to pick up the car, with an automated delivery system that resembles a vending machine. Uh, if it works every time then it sounds pretty good, no? And because there's no way to test drive a car, you can bring it back within a week if you regret your purchase.

We'd contend that this business, along with bringing a cool factor to the table, will dramatically upgrade this long vacant property.


Current view

Looking toward Frankford Ave.

Boxed in between the El and I-95, this parcel doesn't strike us at the most attractive location for residential or mixed-use development. Then again, we've been surprised time and again by the projects that have been going up along Front Street in Fishtown and South Kensington, and with this being across the street from Northern Liberties, perhaps a residential development would have been successful here. On the other hand, Fillmore Philly sits right on the other side of I-95 which could be another deterrent to a large residential component at this location. For now, and at least the next ten years, we'll see how well a business does at this location, and afterwards we wouldn't be surprised to see the owners of the property reassess. In the meantime, we'll be buying our cars in the coming years from vending machines, using giant fake money to make the vehicle come out. Ah, it sounds like too much fun.