In real estate development, construction delays and cost overruns are the norm- and we see it all the time on projects both large and small. We often find ourselves saying that this project or that project are taking longer than we would have expected, a phrase we should probably scrap given the regularity with which we use it. It's much less common for us to consider a project that moved more quickly than expected, but that's exactly what we're looking at with the 1200 Washington project.
Thirteen months ago, we visited the southwest corner of 12th & Washington and told you about plans for a five-story, 48 units building with 15 parking spots and ground-floor retail. At that time, construction had not yet begun. By the time summer was coming to an end, we told you that a crane had placed modules atop some steel framing, marking an important step for the project. If you check out the property today, you'll see that the building looks like it's entirely finished. Ah, the power and beauty and speed of modular construction!
Just over a year ago, we were at Broad & Callowhill, looking both ways and checking out a project known as Hanover North Broad, which is a partnership between Philadelphia’s Parkway Corporation and The Hanover Company which is based in Houston. At that time, the dueling surface parking lots on the southeast and southwest corners were not much more than that, with site preparation having being completed. Since then, construction has progressed at a seemingly rapid pace. Today, the smaller building on the east side of Broad Street (339 N. Broad St.) is basically complete, with the sidewalk free and open to pedestrians. And the opposing larger western building (322 N. Broad St.) is completely built out but still needs parts of its facade and its interiors to be completed. It's pretty amazing how quickly these buildings went up.
It took a little longer than we would have originally expected, but it seems a former supermarket is finally getting torn down on Ridge Avenue. It was about two and a half years ago that we told you that developers had purchased the property at 1614-20 Ridge Ave. and were going to the ZBA with plans to tear down the unexciting structure and replace it with a building with 28 apartments, 3 retail spaces, and 17 parking spots. Alas, here we are after all this time and the building remains, as does the billboard on its roof that's currently advertising 'Gunk.'
Fence around the building
But look! There's a fence around the building! And the developers pulled a demolition permit last month! This is a pretty strong indication that the demolition activity should be starting soon and that the project will be happening in the near future. As to the reason for the delay, we couldn't tell you, but we do see that the property changed hands last year, selling for $1.4M. The developers that took the property through zoning purchased it for $675K in 2014, which just goes to show the added value of approved plans as well as the increased heat of the market over the last couple years.
Back in the fall of 2014, we brought a development opportunity to your attention, as 1523 N. Front St. was listed for sale for $2.1M. We noted that the property included a building that had been built as the United Presbyterian Church in 1850 but had been used as a warehouse for a contractor in recent decades, and worried that a developer buying the property might tear down the former church in favor of unexciting new construction. It seems we weren't alone in that concern, as it was nominated to the local historic register shortly after we wrote our story. No question, designation depressed interest in the property and resulted in a reduced sale price of just over $1.5M when the building finally changed hands about a year ago.
When we checked in on the property last fall, we learned that Domani Developers had purchased the property and noticed that renovation work was just getting started. But we didn't know exactly what was in store for the building. Commenters living in the neighborhood gave us the low down, explaining that Domani was converting the building into office space and had plans for their own offices as well as office space for the quickly growing City Fitness empire. Looking at the outside of the building today, we see that there's been some major progress, with new windows installed in many places. We have to assume that there's been good progress inside as well.
The Ridge Avenue Farmers Market was one of the most impressive buildings in Francisville and also functioned as the economic center of the neighborhood for almost a century. We've covered this building before, so please raise your hand if you remember that it was constructed in 1875 in the High Victorian Gothic Style. Nobody? Oh well. If you'd like more information about the building's architecture, its 1983 nomination to the National Register of Historic Places provides all sorts of detail.
A reader tipped us off over the weekend after noticing a demolition notice on the northwest corner of 13th & Reed, across the street from Columbus Square Park. This two-story property at 1340 S. 13th St. is used for a few different things according to an old permit, with an auto shop taking up some of the space, Mummer storage in another part of the building, and most prominently, Theatre Exile making its home in the largest space.
Demo notice on the building
Looking west on Reed Street
This theater company has been around for twenty years, and we called their box office to find out what's going on. The person that we spoke with was short on details, but indicated that Theatre Exile would remain in the building through the end of their season and that they planned to move to a new location rather than shut down. As to where that new location will be and how quickly the move will take place, we don't know. But we were cheered to learn that the upcoming demolition for this building won't mean the end of an important part of the Philadelphia arts community.
We passed by the building the other day (before the snow, thankfully), and it occurred to us that the renovation efforts appear to be complete. A reminder, the renovation converted the industrial building into 15 apartments with parking and a ground-floor retail space. Check out the new and improved building:
We don't get to Parkside very often, mostly because it's a bit of a hike for us and there's just not that much development to report in the neighborhood. But a reader gave us a shout the other day and told us about some construction activity at 52nd & Parkside, close to the Mann Center, and we decided we'd take a ride to see what's going on. When we got there, we discovered that there's activity all over the intersection.
SW corner of 52nd & Parkside
Looking at the east side of 52nd Street
Considering the amount of construction taking place and the location, we immediately believed that this was some kind of institutional project, probably of the affordable housing variety. And we were entirely on point in our assumption! It turns out that this project is the work of Community Ventures, a company that's done affordable housing all over the city for many years. They're calling the development Centennial Village, a moniker that surely comes from the fact that United States Centennial Exposition took place across the street in the western section of Fairmount Park.
Scoops is exactly the kind of business you wish you had around the corner from your house. It's got delicious ice cream and snacks, low prices, and the owners have been in the neighborhood forever. With their building at 812 E. Thompson St. selling last year though, it could be the end of the line for this neighborhood business.
The building sold because it's got a larger footprint than you might expect, with five parking garages located on the other side of the property. Though Scoops has become an important place in the neighborhood, it's easy to argue that the building is significantly underused and a three story structure would make much more sense here.
The south side of the 1100 block of Market Street has undergone major changes of late, and more are on the way. Dating back to the 1960s, an ugly two-story edifice stood here, the tattered remains of what was once the Snellenburg's department store. In recent decades, a collection of unimpressive retailers operated out of this building, including a dollar store, a toy store, a clothing store, and so on. We were entirely thrilled to see this building demolished a couple years ago in anticipation of the East Market project, an ambitious multi-phase project from National Real Estate Development.