development opportunity

Build your dream home in Wash West!

Have you always wanted to live in the Washington Square West neighborhood but you've never been able to find the right home for you? Do you have many millions of dollars and a craving for new construction? Would you also dig on the idea of building a dream home for yourself and some well heeled friends? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then we may have just the development opportunity for you. Recently, a listing for 1325 Rodman St. came across our desk and the property has quite a bit of redevelopment potential.

What could get built here?

Zipping down Delaware Avenue today, definitively not on our way to Sugarhouse, a billboard advertising a real estate auction stopped us in our tracks.

Sign that caught our attention

In case you can't get a good look from the sign, it's announcing that a 65K sqft parcel with CMX-3 zoning is going up for auction with May 11th as the deadline to submit a bid. The parcel is question is 1143-51 N. Delaware Ave., and it's pretty much what it looks like in the picture above. It's rather skinny but impossibly deep, running all the way to the Delaware River.

View from above

Penn Treaty Park is located immediately to the north, and the warehouse next door belongs to the Henry Stewart Company, distributing rigging products since 1905. A little further south you'll find Sugarhouse, with its flashy new parking garage apparently finished.

For someone else, actually

We're always on the lookout for interesting development opportunities around town, and it certainly helps us out when real estate agents post signs that really hammer it home. Such is the case at 251 N. 12th St., a vacant lot at the corner of 12th & Vine that has been used as a skinny surface parking lot for many years. We were zipping down 12th Street the other day and a prominent sign caught our eye all the way from the other side of the Vine Street Expressway.

Odd shape presents a challenge

A reader tipped us off recently about 126-32 Dickinson St., a large Pennsport property that's currently available for sale. Passing by the property, you can see a two-story building and a fenced area on Dickinson Street and you'd never imagine that the property spans over a quarter of an acre.

View on Dickinson

To the west of the property there are older two-story homes. To the east is I-95 and a collection of homes built about ten years ago. One of those homes recently sold for over half a million, giving an indication of what potential developers might consider when penciling out a project next door. The big challenge with this property, and the reason we bring it to you instead of buying it ourselves, is the odd shape of the parcel. The listing provides a drawing that shows what we mean.

Price seems a wee bit high

A reader recently tipped us off about 1931-37 W. Passyunk Ave., a large building around the corner from Nick's Roast Beef. It's possible that they emailed us because they happened upon the listing while looking for who knows what on the internet, and there's a chance they contacted us because they know the owner or the realtor and they're trying to get the property some attention. But in this case, the motivations don't matter to us! Here, check out the property:

Current view

Wow, this thing looks lousy. One would have to think it looked nicer back in the day. But now... yikes. The two-story brownstone next door retains most of its character, even though the first-floor window is boarded up. Both properties are currently listed for sale in a single package, with an asking price of $950K. The current listing indicates that the property has about 3,700 sqft of land, and old listings show that the buildings were once home to a beauty school, a furniture store, and a catering hall upstairs. But it's the rendering that really makes the listing pop.

Amazing rendering

This rendering is just so confusing.

A finger licking good development opportunity?

Okay, raise your hand if you can remember back to when there was a KFC on the southeast corner of Broad & Bainbridge. We confess, we only vaguely remember those days, not so much because we weren't around, but more likely because the one-story building that once housed the business has been vacant for about a decade. One would think, given the location, that some other business would have taken over here in the interim but that hasn't been the case. We can see in an old listing, the space was available for lease a few years back for $12K/month, not including associated taxes and insurance. So maybe that's why it has continued to sit empty.

Southeast corner of Broad & Bainbridge

You'll notice in the photo above, there's now a sign on the property indicating that it's for sale. It's not so often that a corner property on South Broad Street so close to downtown becomes available, so it was with some excitement that we reached out to MPN Realty, the brokers for the property, for some details. They told us that the property is available for $5.2M. It's got CMX-3 zoning, has three street frontages, and measures just under 9,000 sqft.

Well if a sign says so...

We love a good development opportunity. And whenever a sign asserts such a thing, we feel it's our obligation to check it out and pass it along, unless of course it's so good that we take it ourselves. So, uh, don't let that be a spoiler alert for what follows.

From the 12th & Washington intersection, you can just about make out a 'Development Opportunity' sign to the south. The sign sits on a vacant lot near the corner of 12th & Alter.

View from Washington Avenue
Closer look

The sign isn't very specific. We didn't know whether the opportunity involved a single vacant lot or the entire block. Turns out it's neither.

For those interested, a set of four properties are now available for sale. 1116 S. 12th St. is a vacant lot that's one off the corner of 12th & Alter. 1118 S. 12th St. is the garage next door, but it doesn't include the two additional garage doors you see on the left side of the image above. 1202 and 1204 Alter St. are also part of the package, and are zoned for commercial use despite being residential-sized lots. The total asking price is $835K. As opportunities go, it's got pluses and minuses.

Honestly we don't know what would be the right plan for this location

Before the bubble burst on the economy back in 2008, there were a ton of development proposals on the boards. Some of them were eventually built, but many never made it past the planning stages. One such project concerned 709 Penn St., also known as Pier 35 1/2, and came from a company affiliated with some dude currently running for President.

Rendering of the Trump Tower

The Trump Tower would have risen up to 45 stories and was to include 225 apartments. Tennis courts, too. And a cigar lounge, of course. But... none of it happened. According to a report from the Inquirer, new owners stepped in earlier this year, paying only $2.4M for the 2+ acre site. This parcel came to our attention recently when we noticed signs on the property advertising that it's for sale. And it can be yours, for the low price of $12.5M!

Property offers an opportunity, but some challenges too

We always note 'For Sale' signs in our travels around town, but when such a sign is affixed to an attractive old building, it grabs our attention and doesn't let go. Recently, we saw a 'For Sale' sign at 1420-22 E. Susquehanna Ave., and we've been thinking about it ever since.

The building
Closer look

With just a quick glance, you can see that this structure was used for religious purposes. The listing provides greater detail. The building was constructed in 1924 as the Convent for the Holy Name of Jesus Church (so says the cornerstone too). And plenty of the original details, like stained glass windows, woodwork, tin ceilings, and the staircase, remain. It's a double-wide property that goes up to three stories in the rear, and has over 11K sqft of interior space. Also, it goes street-to-street, extending to Hewson Street with possible room for parking for a few cars in the back.

So what will happen to this property? It's hard to say. The list price is $595K, and they haven't found a buyer after two months on the market. At some point though, a buyer will step forward and it will be fascinating to see what they try to do.

Huge lot next door could be involved

A couple weeks ago, we told you about a church on the 1500 block of Cambridge St. that will soon get torn down and replaced by five triplexes. At the same time, we wondered whether this project might result in the renovation of some rougher looking homes on the street.

When we took those photos, we also noticed a demolition notice at 1522-24 W. Girard Ave., a building around the corner. Interestingly the property the building sits on extends all the way back to Cambridge Street. According to an old listing, this property was most recently used for medical offices and a day care.

Demo notice on the building

This building changed hands earlier this year, as did the parking lot next door. The parking lot parcel is even larger than the parcel the building sits on, with about one and a half times the squarefootage.