Over the course of several decades and three generations of family ownership, Baker Funeral Home served as a crucial resource for people suffering from loss in its North Philadelphia neighborhood. Behind the scenes though, the business was coping with unpaid federal tax bills to the tune of nearly seven figures, with litigation over obligations stretching back to the late 1990s. In the face of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the business closed down a couple years ago and sold their property at 2008 N. Broad St., ostensibly to satisfy those back taxes. Given the location on Temple’s campus, it should also come as no surprise that the building didn’t sell to another funeral home, but to a developer, with an eye toward demolition and new construction.
The plans call for a 6-story building with retail on the first floor and 40 apartments upstairs. This project needed ZBA approval, since the property is located in the rarely seen SP-INS zoning district (which stands for special purpose institutional zoning district). This zoning allows for commercial uses but forbids residential, hence the appeal to the ZBA. The case went before the board last week and got approval, which is appropriate when you consider the context on the rest of the block. While the building’s uses will be compatible with the rest of the block, we don’t imagine the design will fit in with the existing buildings. Such is life though, for new construction in 2019.
While the west side of the 2000 block of Broad Street contains a collection of mixed-use buildings, the surrounding block faces are very much a part of Temple’s campus. Dorms and other university buildings can be found to the east, along with the best food trucks in the area. To the south is the potential location for Temple’s football stadium, if that plan ever comes to fruition.
This building will surely target a student population, adding to the continually swelling inventory of new apartments in the area. Assuming that’s the case, these apartments will be among the closest to campus among the hundreds (thousands?) of new construction units in the area. As a result, we have to think that they’ll rent at a premium price, attracting a mix of students seeking the safety of close proximity to campus and those who seek to take advantage of every last minute of sleep before jetting off to class. Truth be told, it sounds more dangerous than anything to rent a place so close to the Creperie Food Truck, but what do we know?