Neighbors seem to have mixed feelings on the subject

It was almost four years ago that we brought the blighted building at 2539 Grays Ferry Ave. to your attention, lamenting its condition and hoping that it would get renovated or demolished sooner than later. A near neighbor first drew our gaze to the property, informing us that the building had been sitting vacant for at least a decade, that the rear wall had partially collapsed, and L&I had declared the building "unsafe." Somehow, the property remained in this condition until just a couple of months ago, when the building was finally torn down.

In the past

Current view

You'll note, there's a zoning notice on the chain link fence surrounding the property, which means that redevelopment is on the horizon. Reading the notice, we see that the proposal calls for a mixed-use building with a grocery store on the first floor and two apartments above. As the property is zoned for single-family use, this triggers several refusals.

Checking in after about a year

About a year ago, we visited the 1500 block of Brown Street and noted that several projects were in the pipeline for the block, though most were not evident to the casual observer at the time. The most obvious project was happening at the northeast corner of 16th & Brown, where developers had just demolished a pair of buildings and had plans to construct a quadplex in their place. It took a little bit of time for the construction process to lurch forward, perhaps due to a permitting issue, but now you can see the new building has been framed out.

New quadplex at 16th & Brown

Moving to the east, when we were last here we noted two relatively new triplexes on the block. 1519 Brown St. was built around 2013, with units selling between $190K and $260K. 1517 Brown St. arrived on the scene in 2016, and those units sold between $220K and $320K. This gives you an idea of just how much the market has grown in Francisville in the last few years. Next door, developers are just starting to frame three more triplexes, where we have to think the units will sell at even higher prices.

Seems aggressive but we hope they find a way

We were scanning the zoning calendar today and noticed a plan for three properties at the corner of Carlisle & Jefferson, two of which are currently sitting vacant. According to public record, Templetown Properties owns the building at 1603 Jefferson St. while the City owns the two empty lots next door. Thanks to a VPRC resolution from last month though, we see that the City has sold off the vacant lots to this developer. The aforementioned zoning calendar suggests a plan to demolish the building and construct a new project on the combined 5,000 sqft parcel.

View from the west

From the east

The project calls for a new building with 40 apartments, even though the code allows a mere 13 units by right. We aren't sure how tall of building would be required to get to that unit count, but we'd think it would need to rise at least five stories. This would trigger a height refusal as well as a density refusal, and if we're thinking about it there might end up being an open area refusal as well.

V2 Properties strikes again

We were walking around Queen Village over the weekend, on our way to get some tasty John's Water Ice, and noticed a big new building on the little 600 block of Fulton Street. This block is easy to miss, as it dead ends halfway through.

Looking east on the 600 block of Fulton

The projecting sign off the front of the new building at 602 Fulton St. caught our eye though, and we walked down the street to investigate. Upon closer examination, we discovered a four story building on a double wide lot with four condo units. A sign in the window indicated that V2 Properties is behind the project.

New building

Closer look

The developers are calling the new building "The Fulton," and have already listed the units for sale. Prices range from $425K for a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom unit to $700K for a 4 bedroom/3 bathroom unit. One condo, a 2 bedroom/1.5 bathroom unit listed for $465K, is currently under agreement. Given the relative lack of new construction condos in this neighborhood and the desirability of the nearby Meredith School, we imagine all the units will sell in short order.

Some construction is forthcoming

Chain link fence is a very important part of our job. When we're cruising around town looking for stuff to write about, the sight of chain link fence is often a cue that development is brewing. Often, without knowing anything whatsoever about a property, we'll snap a couple of photos of a chain link fence with a plan to later look at the L&I Map to see whether a new project is on the horizon. When we realized that every corner of the 10th & Mount Vernon intersection boasted some chain link fence, we figured we'd have strong chance of discovering something new. And we were correct.

Southwest corner

First, the old news. A couple months ago, we told you that the old warehouse on the southwest corner would be demolished and replaced with five duplexes. We first brought this building to your attention in 2013, noting that it seemed like an attractive development opportunity. Checking in today, you'll note that the building still hasn't been demolished. No doubt though, it'll come down soon enough and construction will start on those duplexes. 

Same developers as 500 Walnut are eyeing a similar project

In a city that's hilariously lacking in downtown cinemas, the small and artsy Ritz Five at 220 Walnut St. is somehow one of the best we've got. If we're to give the matter some thought though, we come to the conclusion that a one story movie theater isn't exactly the best use for a 15K sqft parcel in Society Hill. And at least one developer out there agrees with that sentiment.

Ritz Five

A couple weeks ago, developer Tom Scannapieco appeared before a crowd of roughly a hundred people at a Society Hill Civic Association meeting to present plans to demolish the Ritz Five and replace it with a high rise condo building. And Scannapieco knows a thing or two about this kind of project, as he previously built 1709 Rittenhouse and is now in the home stretch nearby at 500 Walnut. The plan calls for something very similar to 500 Walnut, with between 30 and 50 units that would be among the priciest in town on a per square foot basis. According to a story from Philadelphia Free Press, the project would also include the adjacent Nelson Building, which would get renovated into a lower rise use. Per a thread on Skyscraperpage, the theater would move from its current location to new digs inside a renovated Nelson Building. We don't quite know how that would work, but it sounds great.

A few different projects are puttering along

Between the 4200 and 4400 blocks of Chestnut Street in Spruce Hill, there are several active construction and/or redevelopment sites to be found. So last week, we took advantage of the beautiful spring weather to get a snapshot of what's going on. We didn't need to go much past 42nd Street to find the first project. The building at 4212 Chestnut St. is currently being demolished, work which should stretch over the next few weeks. It looks like this building was an office building of some kind, but soon it'll be gone.

4212 Chestnut St. being torn down

We haven't heard what exactly is going on here and came up rather empty poking around online. The property was sold in 2014 for around $1.1M to an entity with the same mailing address as the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. It traded again a few months back, as a developer based out of Southampton bought it for $1.75M. As of now, there are no permits that indicate what will replace this old building, but student housing seems like a safe bet.

And it could keep the theatre in its current location

Roughly two months ago, we shared the news that a demolition notice had appeared on the large warehouse on the northwest corner of 13th & Reed. This building has had several uses over the years, including auto repair and mummer equipment storage, but it's most prominently known as the home of theater company Theatre Exile. We were concerned about the future of the theater company with the approaching demolition of the building, and were cheered to learn that Theatre Exile was planning to move to a new and undetermined location after this season.

View from a few months back

We knew that the building would be demolished, but didn't know exactly what would be rising in its place. The developers pulled a permit for the new project that was short on some details, only indicating that the new owners were planning a by-right project. Sometime in the last couple months though, those plans changed, as the developers are now seeking to build a project that will require a variance. The project came before the community this week, and a meeting attendee was kind enough to share some details and a few photos of what we can expect. Check 'em out:

New construction surely to follow, with renovation next door

Anyone that has spent any kind of time meandering through South Philly knows that South Broad Street is home to a number of striking buildings, some of which are still in pretty good shape despite the passage of time. The Historical Commission agrees with our assertion, and in 2014 crafted a memo that calls out a few dozen properties on South Broad Street that could be considered contributing to a "residential thematic district." 1316 S. Broad St. was among the properties on that list, and if you ever saw the building, you could understand why it would draw admiration from the Historical Commission.

In the past

Notice that we used the past tense there, because the building is no longer there. We passed by the property earlier today and discovered that the building has been demolished and 1318 S. Broad St. has been gutted. What happened?

Assuming negotiations succeed between community and developer

Though it looked like a foregone conclusion that it would close, the Acme on 5th Street may yet survive. For those that haven't been following the story, Alterra Property Group put the property at 309 S. 5th St. under agreement in the spring of 2015 with an eye toward demolishing the market and building a mixed-use building in its place. Neighbors were displeased and negotiations ensued, led by Society Hill Civic Association and Councilman Squilla's office, and those talks led to Alterra reengaging Acme in a conversation about a long term lease. Those conversations were not successful though, and by the beginning of this year Alterra received a by-right zoning permit to demolish the building and replace it with a 5 story building with 65 apartments, ground-floor retail, and 43 underground parking spots.