development opportunity

Former American Thrift Stores

Last week, a reader directed our attention to the corner of 8th & Wolf, to a building that was home to an American Thrift Store location for many years. Back in the days that major supermarkets were satisfied with smaller spaces and no dedicated parking, it was apparently an Acme. Today, the one-story building looks kinda rough.

Corner of 8th & Wolf

As it sits, the property doesn't seem like much of an opportunity. But the parcel is huge, at just under 15K sqft. If a developer were to take on the property and demolish the building, there would be room for over a dozen new homes. Or a nicely sized apartment building. Sure, we don't see a ton of construction this deep into South Philly, but the size of this lot could entice a developer looking for their next big project.

A block away, at 7th & Wolf, there's a property that's considerably smaller but to our eyes much more interesting.

Tear it down and build a house or make it a loft

We're always on the lookout for interesting development opportunities around town. And while a lone garage on the corner of 7th & Fernon isn't as exciting as, say, the Frankford Chocolate Factory, it could still represent an interesting property for the right person.

The building

Heading to Center City from Souh Philly the other day, we came upon 1613 S. 7th St., whose owners opted for an ominous spray paint sign to deter people from blocking their driveway. The property is 16' wide by 64' deep, and the building currently covers the entire parcel, as you can see above. The block of Fernon Street is all two-story homes, and up 7th Street is a mix of three story homes and a smattering of retail.

Looking up 7th Street

The property is listed for just under $180K at the moment, which seems a little high for a wide open garage in South Philly. A developer could come forward and demolish the garage and build a new home on the corner. The listing suggests that it could also be a fit for artists looking for loft space. Alternately and perhaps least optimally, the space could remain as is and store food trucks or something like that.

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.

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