What’s With A Big Vacant Lot on the 600 Block of Federal Street?

Since we lived close by once upon a time, we’re comfortable saying that the 600 block of Federal Street is a fine place to live. Convenient access to the Italian Market, and even more convenient access to cheesesteaks 24 hours a day. There’s a playground a block away Gold Star Park. Passyunk Avenue is close by, but not so close that you have to deal with the noise or the parking issues on the weekend. And there are at least ten pho places and another ten taquerias within a six block radius. And the neighborhood is even getting nicer, with recent rehabs on this block and many others in the area.

North side of the street

A reader who lives nearby wonders about a vacant lot on the northern side of this block, to the east of all the homes on this side of the street. It’s surrounded by a brick wall, and has a small gate with a ‘No Parking’ sign on it. The lot would be something like 615 Federal St., but it doesn’t have an actual address so far as we can tell.

The lot in question

So if this block is so great, how is it possible that this rather large parcel could sit here, vacant? We don’t know the exact dimensions, but we feel confident that three or four houses could fit on the lot. Wouldn’t the owner develop it, or sell it to someone who will? If you look at the aerial view of the property, you can sort of see why this hasn’t happened.

View from above

We can’t be totally sure, but it appears as though this lot serves as a loading area for the Saigon Maxim restaurant in the shopping center on Washington Avenue. As such, the land on Federal Street is owned by the same company that owns the shopping center, which simply isn’t in the business of residential development.

Could an aggressive developer pry this land away from the shopping center for the right price? Possibly. Could the restaurant take its deliveries in the front instead of the rear? Probably? Will that happen anytime soon? Ehh… we kind of doubt it. But if it does, you know we’ll give you lowdown right away. Until then, this block will unfortunately have to continue staring at a brick wall.