development opportunity

Wide building goes street to street

In Pennsport, it seems like we're seeing a steady stream of former industrial buildings get demolished in favor of new construction homes. After a Target trip the other day, we breezed past 103 Tasker St., possibly the next in line for that kind of treatment.

Building is available

The two story property is listed for sale for $250K, which we think is more than the owners will be able to get for it. According to the listing, it runs street to street, so rear parking sounds like it should be possible but with only 41' of depth, some kind of garage would be required, either on Tasker or Greenwich Street. The listing also indicates that the property needs work, so maybe the future owners will renovate the building rather than tear it down and build new. A third floor addition would make that course of action a little more palatable. Also, does anyone know where the Republican First Ward now meets? Seems this was once a location for that sort of thing, if the sign on the door is to be believed.

We mentioned development opportunity earlier this year

Girard, Girard, oh sweet Girard. So much building planned, we just wonder when. Since plans were first announced last year for SoKo Lofts, more than 300 new apartments at just north of Girard, and Liberty Square, just under 250 new apartments just about next door, we've seen a string of new development pop up along Girard both east and west of Front Street. It's hard to think that some of this development has not been spurred by talk of these huge projects, even though they haven't moved at all as of yet. Of course, construction across Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and South Kensington are also surely part of the equation as well. 

Future Liberty Square, viewed from Girard Ave.

And it seems that another Girard Avenue project is on the horizon, as we recently came upon plans for 225-29 W Girard Ave. for a four-story mixed-use building with three apartments and a commercial space on the first floor. We wrote about this vacant lot earlier this year when it was for sale for what we thought was high $400K, but it did seem like an interesting development opportunity. According to public record, it's still owned by the same party, so we're not sure who's behind the development. It's also worth noting that an interesting mural with three dimensional characteristics is going to be covered by this project.

We liked it before

It wasn't so long ago that the 3rd & Market intersection had the same campy look it had possessed for years. On the northeast corner was the gaudy Shirt Corner. And the slightly less gaudy but still ridiculous Suit Corner held down the southwest corner. And we liked it that way, thank you very much.

Or are we dreaming?

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.

Warehouse plus vacant lot

With all the recent action on Front Street in Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and South Kensington, it's no surprise that people who own properties on this long underperforming stretch are hoping to cash out. One particularly sizable example can be found at 1523 N. Front St., between Jefferson and Oxford Streets.

Lots and warehouse

The large building on the site has been home to James Scollon's Sons Building Construction & Repair, though we're pretty sure they've cleared out by now. The look of the building suggests it was once a church, and historical maps confirm that United Presbyterian Church once called this place home. Now, it's for sale for $2.1M along with a collection of surrounding vacant lots. According to the listing, it's almost 7,000 sqft of land combined.

View up Lee Street

This property would seem to be calling out for reuse into apartments, surrounded by new construction mixed-use. The existing building would especially work for residential use, considering it doesn't butt up against the El. Oxford Mills, the adaptive reuse project across the street, does come right up to the tracks but has tucked the residences further away. Instead, their space on Front Street is reserved for offices.

But it ain't cheap

For at least a decade and surely much longer, a pet store has held down the retail space at 27-29 S. 40th St., near Penn's campus. But over that last decade, there have been plenty of changes to the surrounding area with the most notable being the construction of the Hub on Chestnut just a few doors down. With the former home of the pet store now available for sale, it seems that more change could be on the horizon.

Building on the market

The property is currently listed for sale for $879K which seems like a high price at first glance. But when you consider the fact that the lot has a footprint of over 2,500 sqft and that it's zoned CMX-4, the asking price seems like it might be met. That particular zoning designation would allow for a seven story apartment building by right, which would seem like a wise choice considering the student housing boom in the general area. On the other hand, developers just a block to the south had a similarly zoned lot almost three times the size and instead opted for a disappointing one-story commercial-only building. So who knows what anyone would build here or what they'd pay.

Could be something interesting but probably not

Along the Schuylkill River banks, there's no shortage of interesting bridges, statues, lookouts, and so forth. There are also plenty of nice-looking buildings (Boathouse Row, anyone?). And then there are the buildings that aren't so nice looking, but have a nice view of the water. Heading into town from Chestnut Hill the other day, we came upon a pair of buildings that fit the latter description to a T.

View from Kelly Drive

We couldn't tell you when the two buildings at 4328-44 Ridge Ave. were constructed, or for what use. The architecture actually reminds us a little of hotels in the Catskills. In recent years, the buildings have been rented out for office space, with convenient walking access to downtown East Falls and driving access to the highway. The pair were on the market for $3.2M back in 2009, but eventually the property went to sheriff's sale, apparently selling for under $150K.

If you like old buildings and such

Everyone loves the NFL (willfully ignoring the world outside of the US). Everyone loves Big Brothers Big Sisters. In Philadelphia, we can look at both through the lens of a historic building.

Football is the most popular sport in America. One of the reasons this sport has grown in popularity and maintained its position on top of the proverbial heap is the work of the people at NFL Films. This company records football games, edits them down, sets the highlights to dramatic music, and adds narration to create an almost cinematic experience for viewers. They started doing their thing in 1965, a mere five years after the Eagles won their last championship. Back then, they were based at 230 N. 13th St., mere steps from the not-yet Vine Street Expressway.

The building

By the 1980s, NFL Films moved to South Jersey and Big Brothers Big Sisters purchased the building. For years, it served as the national headquarters for this wonderful organization, which connects children with adults who want to make a difference in their lives. Last year, Big Brothers Big Sisters made the decision to move their national office to Texas, which means their old home is now available for sale.

Any engineers have some thoughts?

In March, we told you about 733 S. 3rd St., a fixer-upper if there ever was one. The building, laid out as a duplex, had wonderful bones, but was missing a couple of crucial details. Like, you know, windows.

A few months back

As that time, the building had just been purchased for $300K and was instantly put back onto the market for $400K. We were pessimistic that that building would sell at that price without some improvements and to their credit, the property owners have been actively fixing up the property. New windows have been installed. The corner space which was home to a business many moons ago has been painted. And some bricks have been removed in a way we've not seen before.

Current view
Missing bricks

We don't claim to be engineers, but something looks a little off here. Any construction experts care to chime in on what's going on here? As in why the owners are doing this and what exactly they're doing? We have to assume it's safe as it doesn't appear as though the site has been shut down, but it sure looks weird. Any additional insight would be much appreciated.

In the meantime, the property is still on the market for $400K. And if they continue working on the property, it might soon be worth that much.

What a waste

Remember last summer, when we told you that a 7-11 had closed at 38th & Chestnut, and expressed surprise because those places never seem to close? At the time, we wondered what would replace the convenience store, speculating that the building would be demolished and replaced by a new apartment building, or maybe a mixed-use building.

Last summer

Shortly after we wrote about it, someone reached out with a rumor that a bank would be taking over for 7-11 at this location. And now that seems to be exactly what's happening.

Now under construction

In the coming months, perhaps even before the fall semester begins, a Santander bank branch will open here. Not only is this objectively worse than a place that sells Slurpees, but it's a real missed opportunity for a taller and more interesting building. Seems like a no brainer, right in the heart of Penn's campus. But hey, what do we know?

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