We were making the rounds the other day and stumbled upon some significant renovation work taking place across the street from the Met. on North Broad Street. 925 N. Broad St. is a pretty unexciting commercial building, constructed with a utilitarian design around the time of the second World War. Within the last decade, the first floor was home to a furniture store, which gave way to a City Blue location that’s still operating. Some old sale and leasing listings indicate that the upper floors of the building have been vacant for a number of years, though we imagine they were once used as office space. That might have been the highest and best use before numerous mixed-use projects appeared on surrounding blocks, but today it’s pretty obvious that residential use makes much more sense at this address.
As we mentioned, the building has been listed for lease and for sale a few times over the years, finally trading for $2.35M back in 2016. At that price point, it’s evident that the buyer was planning to do a massive renovation, and it was only a question of what that project would entail. The images above provide some indication, with the renovation not only calling for work on the existing building, but also including the construction of some additional floors above the old structure. Once all the construction is finished, there will be a total of 33 apartments on floors 2-6 and some reworked retail space on the ground floor. We’d guess that City Blue is on a month to month lease, so it’s possible that we’ll see some commercial turnover as well.
What we can’t be sure of at this time is what the finished product will look like. The Stable Lofts project, just a few blocks to the south, provides a terrific template for the architectural merger of old building and new addition, but that project has the benefit of much better bones than the City Blue building. At 925 N. Broad St., it’s quite possible we’ll end up with something of a Frankenstein building which clearly shows the seams between old and new. If that’s the price we have to pay to finally activate this building after more than a decade of dramatic underuse, it’s probably worth it. Still, we’ll cross our fingers and hope that it looks halfway decent in the end.