blight

Has a mixed-use future

It's still kind of flabbergasting to us that there are any blighted or vacant buildings in Old City. We've documented several over the years, and there are even more that we haven't touched on. Take, for instance, 18 N. 3rd St., which sits only a handful of steps from the corner of 3rd & Market which has seen considerable change in the last few months. You may recall, the former Shirt Corner building disappeared last month and will soon be replaced by a mixed-use project that includes a new CVS. And last week, the former Suit Corner went up in flames, and we can speculate that those buildings will likewise be demolished as a result.

Post fire
Nearby, 18 N. 3rd St., a little blurry

The other day, we spotted a dumpster outside of 18 N. 3rd St., a building which we've surely noticed in the past, but didn't necessarily realize was vacant. Looking at it though, it certainly doesn't look so great. Peering up at the facade, we see at least a couple of windows are missing.

Renovations and new construction repairing a long-blighted block

We've visited the 3000 block of Stiles Street several times in the last few years and the number of vacant blighted properties was always striking to us, especially considering the block's close proximity to the reinvigorated Girard Avenue corridor. Last summer, we told you about renovations to a couple of homes on this block, after previously mentioning work by Steph-Sin to rehab the easternmost home on the block's north side. Today, we have some more specifics on the renovation efforts here, from exactly who you would expect would be doing this kind of work in Brewerytown.

In the past

Stiles Row, from MM Partners, is rescuing four properties on this block through renovation and new construction. Check it out:

Something, yes.

A year and a half ago, we wondered about a blighted and vacant double-wide building at 2619-21 Poplar St. which, based on some leftover signage, was apparently once home to a drinking establishment called the Old English Tavern. About a week ago, neighbors first noticed a fence up around the property, prompting half a dozen emails to us, wondering what's going on here. We zipped by and noted that the excellent sign that previously marked the property has disappeared.

But it's getting bigger

We last checked in on 718-24 S. 2nd St. about three years ago. At the time, the three buildings stuck out on this historic block like a sore thumb. They looked like somebody had built some new homes out of cinderblocks, blocked the window openings, left to buy a pack of cigarettes or something, and never came back. And if you look at them today, you would be inclined to believe that nothing has changed.

View on 2nd Street

Over a year ago, a new developer purchased the properties pictured above at sheriff's sale, leading us to believe that work would soon begin again. New permits have been posted, as have new Stop Work Orders. Neighbors who have been living with this situation for many years are surely wondering whether the project to build nine condos with eight parking spaces will ever come to fruition. And in the meantime, the Monroe Street section of this development seems to be rotting away.

Longtime blight will go away

A couple of months ago, we gave you the good news that one of the two long-vacant buildings at Frankford & Wildey would soon be leasing apartments as Frankford Lofts. At the time, we lamented that the former hosiery factory across the street at 1101 Frankford Ave. remained as vacant and blighted as ever, despite new owners as of late 2012.

The building

We first brought this property to your attention back in the summer of 2012, telling of its tax delinquency and complex legal situation. We also mentioned that it was an elevator factory at one point. We checked back in last May, when a reader spotted dumpsters at the property, and we were hopeful that change was coming soon. It's been pretty much status quo ever since, but a new zoning notice we spotted the other day suggests that change could be in the air.

It's about time

We could have sworn we wrote about 2110 Christian St. like two years ago, but for whatever reason we can't find the story in our archives. To make a not so long story even shorter, the property has been blighted and boarded up for many years, under the not-so-caring stewardship of the Philadelphia Housing Authority. The home next door, privately owned, has been in only slightly better condition through the years. The rest of the block is pretty attractive, with one of our favorite rehabs in the neighborhood at the end of the block.

In the past

Passing by over the weekend, wading through Erin Express crowds, we discovered that both 2108 and 2110 Christian St. are now under construction! Can you believe it?

Possibly?

Ten years ago, redevelopment north of Girard Avenue in Brewerytown seemed like it might never arrive. Nevertheless, from 1999-2007 the median residential sales price of homes in the neighborhood rose nearly four times from just over $10K to over $40K, according to U.S. Census Data compiled by the Philadelphia Neighborhood Information System, as reported by Philadelphia Neighborhoods.

Jump up to 2012 at 27th & Girard, and you have the scenario where the historic St. Augustine's Church first constructed in 1888, sold to developer Jordan Brody. Brody is now converting the church into apartments. Part of the church extends up N. 27th Street where it meets a vacant lot and is followed by a string of vacant homes.

Half the twin is gone

Architecturally, West Philadelphia has some of the most interesting buildings in town. Standard Philly row homes, Old Victorians, Greco-Roman inspired buildings, and plenty of other styles line the streets of West Philly, distinguishing it from much of South Philly, for example. We were on the 4600 block of Sansom Street yesterday investigating a reader tip, and came upon 4622 Sansom St., a vacant lot. Next door looks like a building that was once a twin to this property. A photo from Phillyhistory.org confirms this.

Missing twin
The now-demolished building in 1954

The corner lot has been vacant for at least a decade, and the home next door looks to be much worse for the wear of having lost its neighbor. Across the street, a building constructed in a similar style remains intact, though with perhaps a little too much vinyl.

Is this the way to go?

For over a decade, the Boyd Theater has sat vacant and blighted on the 1900 block of Chestnut Street. Since it was last in active use in 2002, several possible plans have come and gone for this deco beauty, but all have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. In October, we learned about a plan from iPic Theaters to maintain the building's facade and demolish the enormous one-screen theater in favor of a boutique eight-screen concept plus a restaurant.

View today of the theater

When we heard about this idea, we confess we experienced mixed emotions. On the one hand, we were very happy to hear that this long-vacant building would be coming to life again. We were also pleased as punch to learn that Center City would be getting a multi-screen first-run theater once again, something that's been sorely lacking for so many years. On the other hand, the building has so much history and it's one of the only intact downtown theaters that are left out of the dozens we once had. The demolition of the old theater's interior would absolutely be a loss.

Probably wouldn't have happened otherwise

As early as last year, 4923 Osage Ave. was a vacant, debris-filled mess with its rear wall caving in. Now it's an entirely renovated home that’s listed on the market for $349,900. The turnaround was facilitated by Project Rehab, an initiative launched in 2011 by the forward-thinking innovative group at University City District that brought us The Porch, 30th's Street Station’s colorful and vibrant concrete enclave.

The home, recently

“Project Rehab is born out of the community,” said Ryan Spak, of UCD. The project serves as a guide that helps owners that otherwise might not have been able to sell or revamp distressed properties. Many of the properties its staff helped revitalize in the past few years were first identified by neighbors. What’s particularly interesting about Project Rehab is that its staff in no way contributes finances. Instead, staff members spend time if necessary doing research to track down absent owners of homes that could be revitalized. Its end serves both the UCD's mission and improves the community. Sometimes a home is saved and rehabilitated instead of being demolished by the City with the cost being paid by taxpayers.

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