Previous plan called for three homes

We were pretty sure that 1244 E Colona St. had already been redeveloped, and were therefore quite surprised to see it listed on a Fishtown Neighbors Association Zoning Committee agenda earlier this month. We first brought this property to your attention over three years ago, when the oddly shaped parcel included a flowery fence, a vacant home covered in ivy, and a bunch of empty space. By the summer of 2014, developers had purchased the parcel and had neighborhood support for three homes, with two fronting Colona Street and one fronting Susquehanna. We hadn't been back here since, and had simply assumed that the project happened. That wasn't the case, as the project got denied at the ZBA for some reason.

Shape of the property

In the past

If you pass by this location today, you'll see that indeed no homes have been built and the property is now a vacant lot. According to a thread, the demolition took place in the last month or so.

Student housing? Condos? We dunno.

A reader tipped us off about three buildings currently under construction at 2337-41 W. Thompson St. on the Brewerytown/Sharswood border, and we had a funny feeling we'd been to this block once before. And it just so happens that we have been here! A couple years back, we covered some demolition at 2400 W. Thompson St., and since then a new quadplex has risen in the place of a long blighted building. A similar story is now playing out with those three properties on the 2300 block.

In the past

Looking at the Google Street View from a couple years ago, it appears that all three of these properties were vacant and blighted. Developers from FJM Investment Group have purchased the properties over the last couple years, and this year they tore down the old buildings even though two of them had some pretty lovely bones. Now they're in the process of constructing three triplexes.

Sure, why not?

We've noticed that developers today are ready and willing to develop any parcel in Point Breeze that they can get their hands on. Looking back a couple of years, we remember when new homes arrived on the 1100 block of S. Sydenham St. and we were pretty surprised that developers were willing to consider a block that was so overrun with blight and vacancy. Today, more than half of that block has either turned over or is under construction. We could say similar things about the 1300 block of Chadwick Street and the 2000 block of Annin Street. We're usually pretty good at learning our lesson so perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised that the generally lousy 1300 block of S. Lambert St. is now seeing some new construction.

Corner home looks massive

Through some amazing coincidence (we swear, this wasn't planned), we last visited the 1200 block of Bonsall Street exactly one year ago. At that time, two new homes were under construction where Bonsall Street hits the 2300 block of Federal. Those homes are now, as you might guess, finished, with the interior home selling for $380K and the corner selling for a whopping $459K. Today though, we'll draw your attention a half block to the south, to 1240 S. Bonsall St., at the corner of Bonsall & Oakford.

Corner of Bonsall & Oakford

Developers bought this formerly vacant lot earlier this year, paying $100K for the privilege. We'd guess they'd be incredibly satisfied with a similar price to what the developers got at the corner of Federal Street. Wouldn't you? Meanwhile, the vacant lot next door and the home that's just to the south both sold in August, which tells us that both will be redeveloped soon even though there aren't yet any permits pulled for those properties.

A restaurant turns over and another is coming

After what feels like an eternity of blight, the building at 1412 South St. is seemingly getting redeveloped. We last brought this building to your attention about a year and a half ago, noting that the building was available for purchase for $825K and for rent for $5K/month. We feared, however, that the high price points would cause anyone and everyone to balk. The property was taken off the market this past summer, perhaps because nobody was willing to pay those prices.

Long blighted building

We walked past the building the other day during Philly Free Streets and noticed something unexpected. There's now a sign on the building advertising a restaurant that's planning to open in the ground floor space. It will be called Yeeroh and as you might expect from the name, it will specialize in Greek food. According to the business website, it will open in exactly 92 days- impressive that they've got their timing down so precisely.

Building has been vacant for decades

The former Spring Garden School is coming back to life! We first thought about this blighted building during the summer of 2012, and told you that it had been sitting vacant since the 1980s, slowly deteriorating despite joining the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The building sits at 843 N. 12th St., in the middle of the massive Richard Allen Homes PHA development, and we wondered whether the building could possibly attract a market rate developer, or whether affordable housing was a more realistic hope. It turns out that it'll be redeveloped as affordable housing and this makes all kinds of sense.

The building

We got a press release last week, advertising a groundbreaking ceremony for the reuse of this building into an affordable housing development for seniors and veterans. It's a partnership between PHA and HELP USA, an non-profit that focuses on helping the homeless population. The funds for the $14.5M project, the 5th for HELP USA in Philadelphia, come from Historic and Low Income Housing Tax Credits, debt, and philanthropic dollars. When finished in the middle of next year, the property will house 37 apartment units, with 12 of those units reserved for homeless vets. 

We'd heard about plans for an Italian taproom

The northeast corner of 8th & Carpenter has improved dramatically since we first brought it to your attention back in the summer of 2011. Back then, we discovered a building with wonderful bones that had fallen on some really tough times. Though the wonderful bay windows were mostly intact, the windows on the upper floors were all covered in plywood. The cornice was in serious need of a paint job, but you could see that it was once magnificent. And the first floor, which was once a grocery store, retained its windows and looked like it was frozen in time somewhere around 1966. Given its prominent location just a block from the Italian Market, we figured it would only be a matter of time before redevelopment caught up to the building.

Building next door is plenty interesting

The other day, we happened upon a wee bit of construction on the 2300 block of E. Fletcher St., between Cedar and Memphis Streets. Looking at Google Street View, we see that 2336 E. Fletcher St. was previously a green one-story garage. Developers purchased the building, tore it down, and viola, we have two new homes under construction. These homes will have garages, according to the permits, and because street parking happens on the other side of the street this won't take away any spots. 

All the old homes look alike

As Brewerytown hit incredibly hard times over the last few decades, many blocks in the neighborhood fell into serious disrepair, with several experiencing wholesale demolition of vacant properties in the interest of public safety and blight removal. The 1200 block of N. Etting St. is an excellent example of this phenomenon, though it's finally seeing some new development after years of vacancy. Some blocks, though, have remained amazingly intact, like the 2900 block of W. Flora Street.

Looking west on Flora St.

This block is not only impressive for maintaining almost all of its original housing stock, but also because the homes on both sides of the street were seemingly designed by the same individual, as they all feature similar architectural details. One exception is the three story double-wide Humble Tabernacle of Love church in the middle of the block, which possesses some unique architectural features (sweet cornice!) and rises a story above all the other structures on the block. Incidentally, there's a new home under construction next door. That property, 2923 W. Flora St. was previously a two story home that matched its neighbors but had clearly been sitting vacant for many years.

Despite its location two blocks from Temple's campus

It isn't news that the neighborhood surrounding Temple University has seen an explosion of growth over the last few years. It seems like nary a month goes by that we don't have some news of a triplex here or a twenty-seven-unit project there. With all the construction in the area, you'd think that there's hardly any vacant land remaining and all of the blight has been renovated or replaced by now. And you'd be entirely wrong! Development has transformed many blocks near Temple, but some are still in pretty rough shape. Take, for instance, the 1500 block of Willington Street, which is only about two blocks away from campus.

Looking up the block

We were first drawn to this block by the vacant building right on the northwest corner of Willington & Jefferson. It's got amazing bones but it's in terrible condition. A sign on the facade advertises an auction for the property which happened in 2014. On the plus side, the buyers at that auction were Union Housing Developers who should eventually renovate the structure into affordable housing. On the minus side, the building looks like this more than two years after they bought it: