Roughly a week and a half ago, we shared the news that 408 Cecil B. Moore Ave. will likely be redeveloped from a pallet business into a mixed-use building with 146 apartments, some retail, and a bunch of parking. This project is a no brainer for just about everyone. Residential development is popping up all over South Kensington, and there’s seemingly an unquenchable demand for additional housing (and associated retail). And while it’s true that Pallets Plus has been operating out of this location for decades, they can easily run their business someplace else where the land isn’t quite so valuable. Assuming they’re continuing to operate (and why not, pallets are a big business), they can do so with the benefit of a windfall from selling their property off to developers.
If there’s anyone that won’t be so thrilled about the project, it’s street artists and street art fans. As we’ve told you before, the pallet company and local street artists came to an agreement many years ago that the pallet company would allow graffiti on their exterior walls on their properties on both sides of the street, provided the street artists cleaned up after themselves. And so, this corner became a graffiti mecca of sorts, with street artists from around the city and country visiting this intersection to look at or contribute to the art on the walls. With this project now seemingly moving forward, we assume that this longstanding tradition will come to an end on the south side of the block.
The walls on the north side of the street will also be coming down, because of another project in the queue which we told you about at the end of last year. You may recall, Stull Investment Company bought the large triangular parcel at 1700 Germantown Ave., and they’re planning a pair of apartment buildings, an office building, and heaps of retail space. As that project moves forward, they will eventually demolish the walls at the corner of 5th & Cecil B. But to their credit, according to a story from Philly Voice, they’re working with the local street artists to maintain the presence of graffiti at the property.
You can see, the developers, as part of the early stages of redevelopment, have created a public green space at the northern end of the property. This space is primarily a dog park, though there will be space for humans to hang out sans canines as well. The park is located below grade, which will make it much tougher for pooches to make a run for it. As an added bonus, by lowering the dog park, the developers have installed cement walls to brace the sides of the space and those walls are a perfect canvas for street art. Already, graffiti has filled those blank walls and if history is any indication, street artists will paint and repaint those walls in the years to come.
Not only will there be street art opportunities in the dog park, but the developers are planning additional wall space inside the property, in between the planned buildings, reserved for graffiti. So yeah, things are going to change significantly at this intersection in the next couple years, and sure, it’s possible that street art will be gone for good on the south side of the street. But we’re encouraged by the communication between the artists and the Stull people thus far, and it appears that graffiti is here to stay on the north side of the street. And who knows, maybe the developers on the south side will take a cue from their neighbors and look to take a similar approach.