The South Street/Headhouse commercial corridor is one of the most vibrant in town, attracting local residents, tourists, and area teenagers alike for its eclectic mix of stores and restaurants. More than most corridors that come to mind, it feels like this one has undergone a number of identity shifts over the years, from neighborhood retail to bohemian nexus, to tourist destination, to tourist destination with too many chain stores, to tourist destination with fewer chain stores, and so on. In the early years of this decade, this part of South Street felt like it was in a state of decline, with numerous retail vacancies and a noticeably drop off in energy. But as the economy has boomed over the last several years, many empty storefronts have found themselves new tenants, and South Street has felt like it’s trending in a positive direction.
Those vacancies are still filling in as we speak. Notably, it has come to our attention that two longstanding vacancies at 6th & South have finally found themselves some new tenants. We wrote about the southwest and southeast corners of this intersection back in 2014, but both properties had been sitting vacant long before we got around to covering them. The southwest corner has been empty since at least 2005, which is pretty tough to process. For those that don’t recall, there was a McDonald’s that operated out of this building for many years, but somehow they closed in the early 2000s. This McDonald’s was not only special for being one of the few McDonald’s locations to go out of business, but it also occupied a building with a cool and unique jungle themed mural on its entire facade.
The jungle mural disappeared about a decade ago, leaving a stuccoed building with boarded up windows occupying the corner. After a few years (and some violations), the owners installed new windows and we’re pretty sure the upper floors of the building have been used as apartments over the last few years. But the ground floor was still empty… until quite recently. At some point in the last few months, a business called Boutique Nail Cafe took over the retail space here, relocating from another location. As far as we can tell, this place is in fact a nail salon and not a cafe, even though the name suggests otherwise. But we honestly don’t even care what kind of place it is, we’re just thrilled that something has finally opened here, after so many years of vacancy.
The southeast corner has only been vacant for a few years, most recently housing a wireless business called Clear. Clear got purchased by one of the big companies in the wireless game, which left their old storefront vacant, aside from the person who was selling used books in front of the place on and off for the last couple years. Before Clear, there was a Subway shop here, and before that a crepe place, and before that a coffee shop, and before that we don’t remember. What we do recall is that businesses have had a tough time sticking in this spot. We have a feeling though, that the newest tenant will probably be around for awhile.
Yeah, Federal Donuts opened their seventh location here at the end of last week. It’s true that the excitement around Federal Donuts isn’t quite the same as when they opened their first location in Pennsport and lines stretched out the door every day until they sold out. Instead, Federal Donuts is now a reliable and accessible local chain, offering tasty products at affordable prices. This kind of business certainly works well for the present incarnation of South Street, but then again it probably would have worked well at any point in the corridor’s history. And wouldn’t you know it, now we want a donut. Good thing we don’t have wait in a long line to get our hands on one these days.