Perhaps until someone else builds it

You may not realize it, but the western section of the Logan Square neighborhood was once dominated by industrial use. This makes a ton of sense if you think about it, as the proximity to both rail lines and the river would have made this area very attractive to manufacturers back in the day. In modern times, the neighborhood has transitioned to primarily residential use (and museums of course), and many of those old sites have been transformed into apartment buildings, like Park Towne Place, the Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, and Edgewater Apartments.

GW Bromley map from 1910

But some of the old industrial sites have remained undeveloped, with the surface parking lot at 139 N. 23rd St. being a prominent example. You can see in the image above, this site was an iron foundry for many years, and also included a number of small buildings that could have been residences for foundry employees. By the 1950s, we can see that the property was getting worn down. The foundry was demolished at some point after the early 1960s.

Looking south from 23rd & Race in 1954

Today, it looks like this:

Went to ZBA today

It seems that a North Broad Street project that got squashed last summer has come back from the dead. This is for the best, as far as we're concerned.

Looking up North Broad Street

About a year ago, developers came before the Logan Square Neighborhood Association with plans to build an addition at 142 N. Broad St., a rough looking building that sits in between a Parkway Garage (which is also their headquarters) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The project would have entailed a four-story addition to the building and the creation of 116 apartments, along with ground-floor retail. The community didn't oppose the project itself, though they did not support one aspect of the project which would have meant a 3' digital sign at the top of the building, a la East Market Street. In July of last year, the project got denied at the ZBA and the building has remained in the same state ever since.

Residential development is on the way

A slice of Philadelphia culture, 23rd Street Cafe hosted jazz jam sessions every Tuesday night for the last twenty-five years. For a great story about the history of this institution, read this Inquirer story from over the summer. If you read the story a few months ago, you still had the chance to check out a jam session at 233 N. 23rd St., an older building pretty much next door to an I-676 offramp.

In the past

This was the view looking north, until recently

If you didn't get there by now, you've missed your chance. The business is closed and the building has been demolished.

Now if only the lot next door would get redeveloped

We were in the market for some cases of beer today, and found ourselves at Franklin Beverage on the 1800 block of Callowhill Street (they take American Express, by the way). Before we made our way inside, we noticed a faded zoning notice next door at 1823 Callowhill St., the former home of the Children's Crisis Treatment Center.

This building will come down. Note the Granary in the background

According to the zoning notice, developers have plans to demolish this building and replace it with a five-story structure with ground-floor commercial and thirty-two apartments above. The project will also include ten parking spots.

Very exciting project

In yet another example of why Twitter is super cool, today an interesting image came up on our feed from @EricClayWarner. Check it out:

Image we saw on Twitter

Jumping down the rabbit hole afforded by the response from our old friend @GroJLart, we were able to find out some more info about this project. Located at 24th & JFK, it comes from NP International, and it's called River Walk Philadelphia. The site covers 8.5 acres, and will include "residential, commercial, retail, hospitality and other community amenities." The developers presented to the community last month, and LSNA minutes indicate that the project will include 665 condo units and a grocery store, among other items. There will be about 650 parking spaces and they're working with CSX to create river access from the development site. Check out a couple more images:

Would mean big changes for the block

A number of new projects are buzzing in Center City right now, but before another one happens in Logan Square, duty may call.

The owner of 1531-33 Cherry St. has entered into a neighborhood development agreement with members of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association to raze the current structures to make way for a five-story residential building in which the owner and his family would occupy the top floor and rent out the units on the floors below. But this project might be stalled for a few years, as the owner was recently called to action overseas as part of his work for the National Guard. YCH Architects designed the project and we hope it happens sooner rather than later. When completed, it will bring some new residents to a relatively sleepy Center City block.

Neighbors in Spruce Hill in West Philadelphia are attempting to build up their organization by offering free membership for new members that join the Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) between now and next winter.

Some civic groups charge fees and some don’t. SHCA fees are $20 a year. The group’s more than 300 members provide an annual budget of $6,000 that contributes to the organization's efforts in the community. Current members decided to offer free membership in order to boost the group’s numbers, ostensibly increasing the budget in years to come. Ten new members had joined by early May, according to Rich Guffanti, SCHA’s database coordinator.

Lot at 43rd and Baltimore

“There’s about a dozen things we do with it,” said Guffanti. That includes handling publicity and making the community aware of local development like plans for a 92-unit building at 43rd & Baltimore. When neighbors voiced their concern about a Subway proposal at 45th and Baltimore, the group's budget contributed to community outreach efforts, though the store did eventually open. While the money is not much, for SCHA it serves its purpose.

While ground-breaking may be a year away, plans for Edgewater II, a 20-plus-story 300-foot tower at 23rd & Summer are moving along. Some changes have been made to the plan since Realen first presented to Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) last year, and these must now be officially incorporated into a Neighborhood Development Agreement (NDA).

The site, now a parking lot

The most important part of that NDA states that no construction vehicles can enter the site from 23rd Street, according to Ed Panek, LSNA zoning chair. That means vehicles will have to travel under I676, passing around the Park Towne Place Apartments to enter. No construction will occur west of 23rd Street. Otherwise, construction vehicles and equipment would impede 23rd Street residents from utilizing their street, Panek said.

It's sat vacant for two decades and though Brandywine Realty Trust purchased 1919 Market St. for $9.3M early in 2011, two years later its vision and any action pertaining to active development of the lot have apparently stalled.

Overhead of the lot

The site has been featured in various plans since it was first razed to make room for a twin to the Blue Cross Blue Shield building. Most recent plans depicted a mixed-use 25-story 293 residential unit tower, with additional related uses, and a parking garage with 286 spaces and a driveway on Market Street. Developers plan to eventually meet with appropriate members of the relevant civic organizations, including Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Center City Residents Association to discuss the matter. But the ZBA has postponed the matter indefinitely.

Dear God: we’re unsure if you’ve heard our prayers lately. We need some money. So we’re selling some of (Y)our things.

Like the Holy Family Center and the northern portion of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center’s parking lot, located at 17th and Vine Streets. Hope you don’t mind, Big Fella. (Signed, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.) The 20K sqft former convent now functions as office space for various Catholic Social Services, which will be relocated.

The building

We didn’t know God had money troubles. What gives? The archdioceses faced a $6M operating deficit for the 2012 fiscal year, according to Catholic News Agency (CNA).

With these properties for sale, an interesting development opportunity presents itself in Logan Square. There, preconstruction recently started at the other corner of 17th and Vine on another one of God’s assets, the Temple for the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS). Guess as one leaves another comes, like cars to parking spots in Philly. This makes for an interesting development opportunity along the south side of the 1700 block.