Explaining Some Steel Near Grays Ferry Avenue

1100 and 1102 S. 27th St. sit just a few steps away from Grays Ferry Avenue. These properties have been sitting vacant for at least twenty-five years, which is consistent with many other properties in this part of town. Also consistent with other properties around here, they’re now being redeveloped. But this redevelopment isn’t proceeding as one might expect.

View of the property

As we’ve commented previously, the vast majority of the development we see in Grays Ferry is of the single-family home variety, generally with the homes listed for sale. We don’t even see so many new construction rental properties, either in the form of duplexes or triplexes or apartment buildings. And you can forget about mixed-use. But don’t forget about it here, because that’s exactly what’s happening. The owners of the property got a variance from the ZBA back in 2018 to build a three-unit apartment building with retail on the first floor. Unexpectedly, this plan calls for steel framing on the first and part of the 2nd floor, which will certainly provide larger window openings for the retail space but will also add a bit to the construction budget. It’s an unexpected construction strategy for an unexpected project at this location.

To the north
Additional views
Looking south on 27th Street

To be clear, seeing construction at this location makes perfect sense, as we’ve seen plenty of it on the northern side of Grays Ferry. Perhaps the developers made the determination that such close proximity to Grays Ferry Avenue would result in a path forward with a retail tenant and rental apartments. And maybe they thought that the huge billboard across the street would be a deterrent to selling homes here, so instead decided to take the rental route. Honestly can’t say we disagree in that regard.

As for what kind of business we can expect to see someday on the first floor, we haven’t a clue. Certainly, it doesn’t feel like a site that would make sense for retail. Maybe a small office? Or maybe the space will struggle to find a tenant and the developers will end up back at the ZBA, looking to convert it into additional apartments? If that happens, it’ll certainly feel like a waste of steel- which makes us think we’re missing something here. Do you have any ideas about what kind of business could make sense at the corner of 27th & Ellsworth? Perhaps a reincarnated Moe’s Hot Dog House? Hey, let us dream.

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