Though the Graduate Hospital neighborhood around it has changed dramatically over the years, Robert's Twi-Lite Lounge at 20th & Bainbridge has remained more or less the same. The bar doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's a pretty solid neighborhood dive bar. And as far as we know it's finally settled into a mostly peaceful relationship with near neighbors after some friction in the past.
Twi-light Lounge, blight next door
Next door, you can see there's a vacant and blighted building. It's been on the market for a few years and actually almost sold at some point but the sale fell through. About a year ago though, developers bought it for a whopping $270K. Recently, a reader tipped us off that the building will soon be demolished and replaced with a duplex. We have to think, considering the purchase price, these are gonna be condos. It will take a special kind of buyers that want to live right next door to a bar, but we still imagine that they'll turn up.
At the corner of 26th & Poplar, a vacant warehouse cries out for redevelopment. And its cries might just be answered sometime soon.
View from the east
The 12,000 sqft building sits on the border between Brewerytown and Fairmount. To the south is a lovely residential neighborhood. To the north is the rapidly improving West Girard commercial corridor. Next door, unfortunately, is a gas station. But that hasn't stopped developers at other locations in the past.
View from the west
Recently, a reader directed us to a Philadelphia Speaks thread discussing this property, whose owners recently put in for permits to build a couple of roof decks. Our first thought was that the property was owned by the Graveley family, a group that owns several parcels nearby including the recently demolished Old English Tavern. But no, it's owned by Bambrey Associates LLC, a company that purchased the property back in 2002 and is now finally taking an interest in it as the neighborhood to the north continues to progress.
Fifteen years ago, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood was home to over a thousand vacant properties. In the years since, all but a small handful have been renovated by developers or simply demolished and replaced by new construction. It was a little less than a year ago that we brought one of the few vacant properties in the neighborhood to your attention, the long blighted 923 S. 23rd St.
Last October, we shared the good news that developers had purchased the property, which had been cited (appropriately) with Doors & Windows violations, and there were plans to demolish what was left of the building and replace it with a duplex. This surely came as fabulous news to near neighbors who have had to deal with a backless house on their block for many years. The previous owners, in a failed renovation project, tore down the back wall and stopped work soon after. But despite the apparent efforts from the new owners to start work on the property, nothing seemed to be happening. Until recently.
In July, the owners finally got their demolition permits to tear down this eyesore. And that's just what they did, making the front of the property match the back. Look for construction to get going soon on a project that we would still wager will include condos. Not that rentals versus condos means much to the neighbors- we just imagine they're happy to finally see a positive change at this property. It's about time.
We've written about 2835-37 W. Girard Ave. twice before, once to bring the blighted property to your attention and a second time to inform the world that it was for sale. For those unfamiliar with the property's history, it suffered a fire around 2008 and has been vacant ever since. Sometime at the beginning of last year, the former owner put up a mural-like print on the plywood covering the first floor, making the building slightly less gross and perhaps a little easier to sell. And wouldn't you know it, developers purchased the property last October. Earlier today, we noticed some workers on the site at last.
This is big
According to permits, the building is getting a fourth floor addition and will eventually contain six apartments. No info about what will go into the commercial space, so we're guessing that hasn't been figured out yet. Even if that takes some time, the rebirth of this building will be a huge plus for the 2800 block of W. Girard Ave., which is already doing pretty well.
Today, we look at three parcels close to 31st Street on Baltz, two of which have been blighted for years. The other has just been a vacant lot.
In the past
3045 Baltz St. was at one point a home and then more recently a church. Most recently however, it was home to a tree. The home next door has also been blighted for quite some time. Both properties are currently owned by a couple of developers who picked up the properties back in 2006. They tried to sell them for $135K each, but it doesn't seem they were successful and ultimately they decided to fix them up themselves. Alternately, it's certainly possible that they have indeed sold the properties but it's not yet reflected on public record.
Next door the long vacant, double-wide empty lot is being built upon by MM Partners, joining another down the block. That other home sold last summer for $290K, so it should be interesting to see whether the developers can get any more for this newest addition.
If you've even found yourself on the 1600 block of Christian Street, especially at night, you've surely noticed 1631, 1635, and 1637 Christian St., opulent visions of redevelopment in a neighborhood that's had more than its fair share. The fact that this section of the block was pretty much bombed out as recently as fifteen years ago makes the homes stand out all the more as dramatic examples of a neighborhood's transformation.
We would have to imagine it's been sticking in the craws of the folks who live in these homes as well as anyone else who lives nearby that 1627 Christian St. has remained blighted despite the renovation and construction in the neighborhood. The contrast is pretty stark when you look at it.
Last blight on the block
But there's good news indeed for the people who live on this block; the blighted building is finally getting redeveloped. A demolition notice has appeared on the property, and it should soon be coming down. According to a reader who tipped us off about it, in its place will rise a new building with three condo units. According to public record, the same developers who hilariously purchased the building for $13,700 from the Redevelopment Authority back in 2010 still owns it, but we wouldn't be shocked if they flipped it to somebody else.
At the same time, we told you about two blighted homes on the 300 block of West Thompson Street. The homes lacked windows and generally looked all kinds of crappy. They were both tax delinquent to the extent that the City could have sent them to Sheriff's Sale. And according to a commenter, both were purchased with a fake deed, and the original owners were fighting in court to get their properties back.
In the past
We don't know whether it was something judicial or simply the market, but both homes have since turned over. Developers Thirty3 LLC bought 331 W. Thompson St. in April, and 333 W. Thompson St. last October. They wasted little time in demolishing the old buildings, and have framed out two new single family homes where they once stood. Note, the new homes have little boxes on them to hold the required permits. So it's all on the up and up.
It was an obituary that ultimately provided the information that led to the transformation of a blighted home near 49th & Baltimore instead of its demolition on the taxpayer's dollar. Detective work from Project Rehab reached all the way to Brooklyn, and in the end a home that had collapsed in on itself everywhere except for the facade was renovated and sold for $335K in a span of 18 months.
In the past
“There are always different stories and always different complications,” said Ryan Spak, who operates Project Rehab at University City District.
Since its conception in 2011, Project Rehab has positively impacted thirty-one homes in University City and West Philadelphia and has created $11.3M in real estate value from distressed properties, according to Spak. In February, we shared the story of another collapsed home at 4923 Osage Ave. that had been rehabbed and put on the market for $350K.
The supported plans included forty-four units, with six studios, thirty-two one bedroom apartments, and six two bedrooms. The plan for the building from Cecil Baker + Partners was slated to begin in the spring of 2012. As you can see from the current photos, the building still looks like dreck.
It wasn't so long ago that 17th Street between Carpenter and Washington was pretty much the worst block in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood. For years, a small collection of burned out husks of homes dominated the streetscape. After L&I was kind enough to demolish the blight, the block was left with a single occupied home and a couple dozen vacant lots.
Thankfully, the Carpenter Square project has gone a long way toward bringing the block back to life. Thus far, the developers have built eleven high-end homes, some of which are still available for sale. Now, they're working on the second phase of the project at the corner of 17th & Carpenter, which will include six condo units, a commercial space, and a courtyard. Like CPR, this project has breathed new life into this block. But a huge vacant lot remains on the west side of the street.