Handsome Buildings on Chestnut Street Will Get Demolished

At the end of last year, we brought you a somewhat sad story of a demolition at 4042 Chestnut St. in West Philadelphia. The old building, dating back to the mid-19th century, was being demolished in favor of a new batch of student housing which was going to make full use of the abnormally deep lot. Today, we'd like to provide an update on that project, along with, you guessed it, an upcoming demolition for the nearly identical properties next door. Let's get started.

Now demolished, photo courtesy of Google

Here's the new building

The new building's facade is nearing completion, and we're guessing that the interior will be ready in time for the fall semester. When you consider the length of this new building, it's not hard to see why developers sought out this lot for demolition and redevelopment. As we noted in the previous post, the new residential building will contain 25 units and parking in the basement of the building. It's being developed by University Realty, the same developer behind the massive new building at 46th & Walnut, along with a number of other projects in West Philadelphia.

Another perspective, with 4046 and 4048 Chestnut Street

At 4046-48 Chestnut St., you'll notice the bright orange demolition notice that anyone who follows this blog is fairly used to seeing by now. It looks like University Realty is planning on copying the exact plan they had next door, and will tear down and replace this building as well. This type of demolition has not gone unnoticed by the planning, architecture, and preservation intelligentsia in Philadelphia. In recent weeks, Philly.com's Inga Saffron, Hidden City Philadelphia, and an opinion piece, (written by one of the residents in 4050 Chestnut Street) featured in The Triangle, all voice concerns over the demolition and replacement of these buildings. In addition, we've hear that the entire block of structures, or whatever remains of it, is being nominated for historic preservation.

Looking east toward 40th Street

In reviewing this story and how the community has responded to the issue, we're seeing a strong parallel to another West Philadelphia project at 45th & Locust that we've been covering as it has developed. Dense zoning allows developers to tear down and replace cherished buildings that have irreplaceable facades and strongly contribute the neighborhood's desirability. How can we accommodate increased density while also preserving architecture that is the pride and soul of the built environment in Philadelphia?