For about half a decade, the Industry Bar held down the southeast corner of Moyamensing Avenue and Reed Street, occupying a double-wide, one story building in bustling Pennsport. The Industry was a great spot, not only providing tasty food and drink to folks in the neighborhood, but also serving as a tailor made place that specifically targeted people working in the restaurant business (hence the name). The owners also own Good Dog in Center City, and decided to shut down the underperforming Industry after a massive renovation effort at their other establishment. Hey, we get it. Much as some people might love a particular place, the restaurant business is really hard and sometimes you’ve got to make some tough choices. Still, we’re certain that longtime regulars are still pretty bummed.
With the Industry now closed, its former home has been listed for sale for $850K through MSC Retail. That price includes all furniture and equipment, but doesn’t include the liquor license. That would probably run another $200K, roughly. If we may do the quick math, someone could soon take over the former Industry, turnkey, for a cool $1.05M, not including the costs of any alterations. In a vacuum, that seems like a pretty significant investment to take over a restaurant space, particularly one that was underperforming. On the other hand, it’s incredibly difficult to get financing for a new restaurant and wrapping a restaurant purchase into a real estate transaction would allow for a leveraged transaction that would require less up-front cash than a typical restaurant opening. So it might represent a worthwhile opportunity for the right buyer.
You might alternately argue that a restaurant in a one-story building isn’t the highest and best use for this property. After all, new homes are sprouting up all over Pennsport, selling at prices we never would have expected just a few years ago. Further, we saw developers build a row of five town homes on a similar parcel on the 200 block of Wharton Street just last year. Could that be what happens here, instead of a new restaurant?
Let’s pump the brakes on that idea. The parcel on the 200 block of Wharton Street was indeed similar, but not identical. The former Industry sits on a lot that’s roughly 32’x60′, while the corner of Moyamensing & Wharton was 40’x100′. The eight feet of additional depth allowed for homes that laid out intuitively, along with rear access parking. Situating homes on a lot with 32′ of depth is certainly possible, but rear access parking would be impossible. Given the asking price and considering the lack of parking potential, we don’t see how the numbers would possibly work for a residential project here.
With town home development probably out of the question, we expect another restaurant to open here at some point. Perhaps, if the party that buys the property wants to get a little creative, they’ll look to add a couple of stories onto the building and build a couple of apartments. Unfortunately, the property is zoned for single-family residential use, so that plan would require a zoning variance. We don’t see why the community would oppose such a variance, but the added uncertainty certainly doesn’t help in this situation.