We always wondered about the parking garage at 725 S. Broad St. because of a curious sign posted to its front. The sign read ‘Peace Mission Democratic Cooperative Garage,’ basically begging for some additional context. For example, what makes a garage democratic and cooperative? Had we bothered to perform a simple Google search at some point, we’d have at least gotten answers to some of our questions- alas we never did until now.
It turns out that Peace Mission is the religious movement founded by Father Divine, perhaps most famous today as the organization that operated the Divine Lorraine Hotel on North Broad Street. Peace Mission also operated this garage for many years, and we have to think that the parking spaces were rented out at below market rates, consistent with the goals of Peace Mission. Peace Mission is no longer operating the garage- in fact no garage is operating here at all anymore. Developers purchased the property a couple years ago and it’s now under construction.
The building has historically been used for auto-centric purposes, functioning as a parking garage in recent years and as an auto repair shop many years ago. We have to think that the upper floors were originally used for office space and that the glass block in the windows are a relatively recent feature, and soon enough the building will look to return to its roots. Looking at a posting on Loopnet, we see that the developers are planning retail on the first floor and office space on the upper four floors. What’s that you say? You only see a three story building in the images above? Good eye.
Yes, the developers will be constructing an addition onto the existing building, adding space on the existing lower floors and two completely new stories. The design of the new addition will be quite contemporary, so nobody will make the mistake that it’s original to the building. To further reduce possible confusion, it will be set back from the front of the building, but you’ll be able to see it quite clearly because Broad Street is so wide. With the combination of old and new architecture, this building will preserve a link to Broad Street’s history while putting a new spin on the old building. While the addition is cool and all, we’d argue that the replacement of the glass block windows with actual windows will make the biggest difference in terms of improving the aesthetic of a building that’s been around for almost a century.