A New Direction for an Old Building on North Broad

Yesterday, a reader tipped us off about a new zoning notice at 631 N. Broad St., so we hustled up there to take a peek, competing against the early sunset.

The building

Even with a quick glance, you can tell this building is old. They just don't build 'em like this anymore and they stopped doing so long before we walked the earth. There's an inscription in the middle of the building that says E. Hart Stable, referencing the original owners of the building. Yes folks, it seems that this structure was built for animals sometime before 1875. A few years ago, Philaphilia did a rundown on this building, recounting its numerous occupants over the years. A sampling includes several car companies, a sewing machine company, a hosiery company, and a couple of drug companies. We struggled to find a good historical photo of the building but this image from 1901 with long-range view of the building shows that it hasn't changed much in the last hundred years.

View of the building in 1901. It's on the right.

Most recently, Calderwood Gallery called this building home. These guys have a large collection of art, photos, and vintage furniture that filled the building for the last several years. But now they've moved to the northeast and a sign on the building indicates that it's been sold. We can't find any hint of the new owners on public record, so perhaps the purchase hasn't been recorded or it has a zoning contingency. The plan calls for a four-story addition to the building, a retail space on the first floor, and forty-one apartments above. From what we can tell, there's no car parking planned, but plans do call for 36 bike parking spots.

It's tough to judge this plan without seeing a rendering of some kind that shows how the developers will reuse the existing building, but in general we're really excited to see what they have in store. Done right, this plan could bring new life to this block of North Broad Street while intergrating architectural fabric that stretches back to the 19th century. But that's not to say that this block doesn't already have some life. Right across the street is 600 North Broad, an apartment building that was completed a few years back and includes some ground-floor restaurants and an event space. Lofts 640, home to Osteria, is also on this block.

Across the street, the confusingly named South Kitchen sits in front of 600 N. Broad St.

We'll be interested to find out more details on what the new owners have in store for the former Edwin Hart Stables. And if it means that North Broad Street will get yet another fancy restaurant, that sounds like a positive step too.