lemon hill

Two years ago, 747 N. 24th St. was a worn looking mixed-use building with an inactive corner commercial space. A couple of pictures and a Phillies flag were all that prettied up the storefront's otherwise blocked-out windows. Signs were on the building, suggesting that the owner was willing to sell, but we'd imagine it took some time for him to find a buyer willing to pay his desired price. But about a year ago, a new owner took possession of this building for the first time in about seventy-five years and set to the task of renovating it completely.

In the past

The most visible results of this renovation are new windows, blue stucco covering the bricks, and the complete elimination of the commercial space. Fortunately, the existing cornices look to have been restored and painted, maintaining an important element of the building's original character. We would also have to imagine that the interior has been completely redone, to integrate formerly divided spaces into a single family home.

Philadelphia’s Rail Park is an effort by three dedicated Philadelphians to transform an unused rail line into a grand pubic space that connects Fairmount Park to the cultural spine of Philadelphia along the Parkway down to City Hall. The space begins at the far end of Pennsylvania Avenue near 28th Street near Lemon Hill. That’s where a rail line runs underneath a tunnel that heads toward City Hall. Could that tunnel be of one Philadelphia’s next great civic spaces?

Map of the Rail Park

The Friends of Rail Park is the newly rebranded incarnation of the group formerly known as Viaduct Green. The group recently partnered with the OLIN studio to develop a vision for half a mile of the three mile former rail line that begins at Broad Street and runs three blocks west. The group calls it the park’s City Branch. The proposed park runs along an old rail line along Pennsylvania Avenue until part of it emerges below street level behind the Rodin Museum near 22nd and the Parkway. Around 18th and Callowhill, the part of the space that can be seen now is overgrown brush. The tunnel eventually connects with the proposed Reading Viaduct.

One way to get out of a failing business is to slip out in the middle of the night without telling the landlord.

That is how the tenant who planned to open a bicycle repair shop in the tiny space at 25th and Aspen Sts., across from toddler Lemon Hill in Fairmount, left his two-year lease behind before the shop ever opened, according to Roland Reed, the owner of the property at 2441 Aspen St.

Tiny corner shop

Now, The Fairmount Consignment Shop, a project from former 25-year Rembrandt’s owner Jan Zarkin, who bowed out of Rembrandt’s in 2009, is set to open in early March at that corner retail location.

“We will sell whatever we can get our hands on,” says Zarkin. (Cool. We're looking for a hovercraft, my good merchant.) He added he plans for the shop to be a neighborhood-friendly dog-friendly destination. Patrons will be able to browse computers that offer extended merchandise not available in the store, which is about as big as a master bedroom.

The culinary options on Fairmount Ave. are getting more diverse. BlueCat, a casual Latin-inspired restaurant should be opening in February in one of the retail locations we first told you about this spring, as part of the 25K sqft development at the intersection of Fairmount Avenue and Uber Streets. That development is approaching the finish line and already home to a few tenants.

From a few weeks back

After a few failed attempts to contact the site’s owners through the developer, last week we headed to the property and chanced upon Guy Shapiro and his wife, Luli Canuso, the owners of the restaurant-to-be. Between the two of them, they've lived in the neighborhood for over thirty years.

While they didn't want to say too much yet about their place just yet, they did say it would feature a semi-open kitchen and around forty seats both indoors and out. The interior will feature stone finishes and will incorporate a mural as well.

The space, also a few weeks ago

“A number of factors came together to make it right,” said Canuso about opening BlueCat.