Meandering through the River Wards the other day, we spied a vacant building at 2530 E. Hagert St. that we had never noticed before, even though it's been in poor condition for several years. Something about the property gave us the feeling that developers already had this property in the crosshairs, and we were on the money in that regard. The property traded about a year ago, selling for $95K, and we have to think it won't be long until the owners tear down the blighted building and construct a new single-family home here.
Several readers have reached out to us over the last few months, wondering about the Frankford Chocolate Factory at 2101 Washington Ave., and specifically asking us what's up with the 'X' signs that appeared on the building of late. We're sorry to say that these signs are not an indication that the building is the endpoint of a treasure map, nor does it suggest that the building has taken up an interest in comic books or Bryan Singer movies.
View at 22nd Street
It's really quite banal, it's just an indication of something that most people in the neighborhood already know- that the building is vacant. While all the neighbors know that the building is empty, firefighters might not have that information. And should the building happen to catch fire, this information will guide first responders in dealing with the situation, indicating that they should not enter the building.
We were passing through Brewerytown the other day and noticed the back of a blighted building on Marston Street through a vacant lot on 27th Street.
Blight seen through a vacant lot on 27th Street
Turning the corner, we immediately remembered that we had written about this block previously, a little over a year ago. We had even covered the building in question, but at the time we didn't realize you could see its rear so clearly.
Front of the building that's visible on 27th Street
When we last visited this block, we told you that the building at 1327-33 N. Marston St., a former milk depot, had been purchased by developers that creatively named their development entity Marston Street Milk Depot LLC. At the time, the developers were working to resolve some violations on the building and to make it safe. There were no zoning or building permits pulled at the time, but we mentioned that they could convert the building to a 17-unit apartment building by right. And that's exactly what they're doing! The project will mean an addition to the existing structure, squaring it off as a three-story building. Surely this will improve the views on Marston Street and on 27th Street too, at least until that vacant lot gets redeveloped.
Student housing has boomed across many sections of West Philadelphia, with tons of new buildings rising in Mantua in recent years. The construction has slowly crept northward, but it hasn't yet made its way to Ogden Street, where we will draw your gaze on this rainy afternoon. This part of Mantua is a bit of a mixed bag, with tons of vacant land and a number of blighted vacant buildings, but a decent number of intact blocks mixed in there too. There's some impressive architecture to be found in the area, but there aren't too many buildings that compare with what looks like a former mansion on the northwest corner of 41st & Ogden.
Fortunately, PHA auctioned off hundreds of vacant properties a few years back, including 1516 Green St., and by 2013 it was in the hands of private developers looking to redevelop. They presented a plan to convert the building into six apartments, a project that would have entailed demolishing and rebuilding the rear of the building but maintaining its facade. Since the property sits in the Spring Garden Historic District, this plan had to go before the Historical Commission which unfortunately did not give its blessing. Within a year of our first story, the building was declared imminently dangerous and demolished. As you might expect, the property has been sitting vacant for the last couple of years. But hark, a reader told us the other day that construction has started here!
With the hulking former umbrella factory sitting blighted and vacant for many years at the corner of 5th & Master, the vacant lots at 1431-33 N. 5th St. probably weren't of much interest to developers. And we can appreciate why people would have balked at the idea of investing money in property in the shadow of a ten story building that seemed like it would never get redeveloped. A year ago though, we provided a ray of sunshine when we told you that Core Realty had purchased the former umbrella factory, making it likely that renovation would soon be in the cards. And we'd argue that it was no coincidence that developers purchased the vacant lots on 5th Street just a couple months later. As you might guess, the lots are no longer sitting vacant.
We were winding our way through South Kensington yesterday, fighting the early setting sun, and happened upon a pair of new homes on the 1400 block of N. Lawrence Street. Previously, 1428 and 1430 N. Lawrence St. were sitting vacant, even though most of the rest of this block is in pretty decent shape. There are now two homes on these lots, with 1428 N. Lawrence St. under construction and 1430 N. Lawrence St. finished. The latter home sold a couple months ago for $402K.
Turning back the clock a couple of decades, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood had well over a thousand vacant lots and buildings literally littering the area. The 2100 block of Carpenter Street was among the worst in the neighborhood. In 2004, at least thirty out of forty-seven properties on the block were sitting vacant. As we've covered before, the block has now totally filled in, with many of the new construction buildings featuring lovely stucco bay windows.
Looking west on Carpenter St.
Despite the dramatic improvement to the block, 2100 Carpenter St. has remained vacant and blighted as the years have rolled along. We mentioned the property a little over a year ago, mentioning that it had a ton of violations and had been owned by the same party since 2006. It also had some sweet graffiti. A neighbor gave us the heads up earlier today though, that a chain link fence recently appeared around the property which gives us a sense that renovation or demolition could be on the horizon. Sweet news indeed.
We haven't spent much time in the neighborhoods around Temple Hospital but there's a chance that could start to change. This area is in pretty rough shape, with copious amounts of vacant land, countless vacant homes dotting the landscape, and virtually no amenities. Nevertheless, there are still Temple Med students and residents that think it's a good idea to live near the hospital, and as a result it appears that there's some growing demand for housing north of Lehigh Avenue.
We were scanning the ZBA calendar and a project at 1511 W. Allegheny Ave. caught our attention. It's presently a vacant lot, but developers bought it about a year ago, we'd have to think with an eye toward new construction med student housing. The plans call for a new building with 16 units and 5 parking spots, and with the hospital campus just two blocks away, we can understand how this could possibly work out. That being said, the ZBA hearing was continued for the second time this week, so who knows whether it'll even happen.