Naked Philly

We told you to buy it

There aren't so many immediately recognizable development opportunities in Center City, but last year, a sign at 251 N. 12th St. really drove the point home.

View of the property from last year

We brought this property to your attention, encouraging anyone and everyone to buy it and build something. The property has some good things going for it, like its location close to the middle of town and the fact that the zoning would allow for a five-story building by right. With a list price of $275K though, it's evident that the property comes with some challenges. First, the property is much slimmer than you might prefer, with a width of only about 12 feet. As we've commented many times in the past, for a single family home you ideally want at least 16' of width, and this becomes even more important with an apartment building. While its location is good in terms of what's close by, it sits right on the Vine Street Expressway which is far from ideal. Finally, the redevelopment of this property will mean the elimination of a pretty great mural.

Former site of Triangle Park

The saga of Triangle Park has seemingly come to an end after quite a long time. For those of you that haven't been following the situation at the triangular lot at 601 Christian St. over the years, here's a brief rundown:

Historically, this 2,600 sqft property was home to a gas station, though the business shut down quite some time ago. Roughly eight years ago, with the site clear of the remains of the gas station, the owner of the property permitted some neighbors to clean the lot and transform it into a green space called Triangle Park. And lo, it was wonderful, and the City had designs on purchasing the property and preserving it as a park in perpetuity. Then things went off the rails.

In the spring of 2012, the owner put up a fence around the perimeter of the property, unhappy that the City was taking so long to buy the land. Half a year later, we learned that the City was not willing to purchase the property without major ground testing and remediation of any contamination from the years of gas station use. Within a year, the owner tore up the entire park.

Losing the building is no big loss

Carburetor is one of those words we've probably heard hundreds of times over the years and while we knew it was somehow related to car engines, we confess we had no concept of its function. But we live in the age of information, and thanks to Wikipedia, we now know that a carburetor blends air and fuel for use by an internal combustion engine. We also know that carburetors haven't really been in use for commercial cars since the late 1980s, replaced by fuel injection. 

Philadelphia Carburetor and Ignition operated out of 1327 Reed St. since 1963 and while we never patronized this business, we have to think that they did more than carburetors, despite the name. Still, we have to think that business was better in the first few decades than in the last few decades. Earlier this year, the building was listed for sale and got snatched up by a developer in less than two weeks for a price of $465K. The developer is pursuing a plan to demolish the existing two-story commercial building and replace it with a pair of townhomes with parking in the rear. The project came before Passyunk Square Civic Association last month and got a letter of non-opposition, so we have to think it'll get approved at the ZBA.

Was surely once an impressive row

It wasn't so long ago that the section of Pennsport immediately surrounding Dickinson Square Park was a little on the dicey side, with several blighted buildings and vacant lots on the blocks immediately to the north and west of the park. Virtually all of those properties have been redeveloped over the last several years, both through infill development and the game changing Southwark on Reed project, which traded the vacant Mount Sinai Hospital building for almost a hundred new townhomes. The cause for the increase in developer interest is surely related to the overall development trends we've seen in several neighborhoods around town, and the major renovation of the park in 2011-12 has also made the area more desirable.

Dickinson Square Park

On the 300 block of Tasker Street, along the north side of Dickinson Square Park, is a row of brownstones that look like they were built at the same time and by the same developer. When they were originally built, we believe there were a dozen or more homes that looked more or less the same, all with detailed cornices, decorated lintels, and brownstone facades. We tried to find a historical image of the row of homes, but sadly came up empty, so you'll just have to join us in imagining what it must have looked like. This is necessary because the row of brownstones has not remained intact over the years.

Solid adaptive reuse potential

If you just bought a mansion on Pine Street and are finding yourself a little short on original interior details, the folks at Architectural Antiques Exchange can probably help. Since the late 1970s, this place has specialized in antique pieces that date back as far as the 1700s, just in case your new mansion is in Society Hill. For those looking to class up their home, they specialize in antique mantels, doors, and furniture. And if you're looking for an authentic Irish pub setup in your basement, they've probably got your back in that department as well.

Bar setup from Architectural Antiques Exchange

This company operates out of a storefront at 709-15 N. 2nd St., a location that has gotten increasingly more attractive as the years have rolled along. Back when the business opened, Northern Liberties was in the proto stages of its rebirth and was still dominated by industrial buildings. Even as far back as we can remember, to the late 1990s, there wasn't much active retail in the immediate vicinity aside from the 700 Club and the long gone Liberties Bar.