Penn’s campus technically ends at 40th & Walnut, but off-campus student housing for the university extends far to the north, going all the way up to Haverford Avenue (and beyond). Despite the countless projects we’ve covered around here over the years, we believe that the area is still ripe for redevelopment. Properties on Market Street in particular should turn over in the future, both because they’re generally underdeveloped and because they’re located in a favorable zoning district. That being said, we weren’t so surprised when we spied zoning notices posted to 4000 Market St. as we were passing through the neighborhood the other day.
This building has been home to Heidi Ho Cafe in the last few years, a business that replaced a health and beauty corner store called Gil’s Discount. We have to think that the building, when it was originally constructed, looked very different than it does today, and we wonder whether the structure was originally a bit taller. Then again, maybe a shorter building made sense, back in the days before the Market-Frankford line was buried at this stop. The combination of its stumpy stature and its stucco facade make this building a great candidate for replacement, and that’s just what’s happening very soon.
Developers recently purchased this property, paying $1.2M. Last week, said developers went to the ZBA with a plan to demolish the existing building and replace it with a seven story building with ground-floor retail and 24 apartments. We don’t know why this project wasn’t by-right, given the permissive zoning here, but the ZBA granted the variance nevertheless. We have to think the commercial tenant will be something new and different from the current business, probably with an eye toward the local student population. Ditto the apartments above, which we have to think will target Penn students, like just about all the other development in the immediate area.
We’re just hopeful that, unlike so many other projects in this neck of the woods, this one will result in a great looking new building. Even if the new building isn’t so great, it’ll surely be an upgrade over the building we have today. And we honestly can’t think of too many other times that’s happened in West Philadelphia in the last few years.