A reader reached out the other day, wondering about the construction taking place at 1124 E. Palmer St., and we were surprised because we were under the impression that we had never covered the project. Then we went to visit the site and it all came back to us- we had indeed written about this project way back at the end of 2014. Perhaps you remember better than we did- this property is quite large, and runs from Palmer all the way to Earl Street. Back then, it included an old auto garage and a large vacant parcel. Developers got community support for fourteen homes with a drive-aisle, with residents concerned about the possibility of a by-right 34-unit apartment building.
It seems groundbreaking took place at some point in the last few months because now this parcel has a row of foundations running from street to street.
A few months ago, we told you about a five-home project in the works at 6th & Jefferson which is now under construction. Around the corner, at the corner of Randolph & Oxford, demolition has wrapped up and a six home project is on the way. In between these projects, at 1500 N. Randolph St., sits a rather large property that's been sitting vacant for many years. According to historic maps, the Consolidated Cigar Company had a factory here at one point, but it disappeared at some point between the 1960s and 2007.
In the past. Also, this shows how far back the lot goes
With all of the construction happening nearby, it seems like it was only a matter of time before this property caught the redevelopment bug. We passed by the other day and discovered some heave machinery and a hole in the ground, so it seems the day has come. The 30K+ sqft property was listed for sale back in 2014, selling in a few months for $850K. At the end of last year, developers presented a plan to the ZBA to subdivide the property into seven parcels and build six homes.
The construction at 205 Race St. (the project is now called Bridge) has proceeded quickly since we visited last fall. At that point, the construction site was basically a hole in the ground and we were pleased as punch, since the site had enough false starts to cover an entire football season over the last fifteen years. Where there was once a large hole, we now see a large building which will eventually include 146 apartments, over 13K sqft of retail space, and a landscaped terrace on the 5th floor. Check it out:
The retail mix has completely changed at the 3rd & Market intersection over the last few years. Turn back the clock to 2011, and you'll find an AT&T Store on the northwest corner, Pizzicato restaurant on the southeast corner, and Shirt and Suit Corner on the northeast and southwest corner, respectively. Not one of those businesses remain at this location today. On the northeast corner, the historic buildings that housed the Shirt Corner were demolished when it was discovered that they were structurally unsound. An apartment building with a ground-floor CVS has appeared in their place. On the northwest corner, the AT&T store moved out last year.
OCF Coffee House coming soon on the northwest corner
OCF Coffee House, owned by the same company that owns this here blog, is set to open its sixth location at 301 Market St. at the end of next month. The shop will offer coffee, light sandwiches, pastries, and smoothies, like most of the other locations. It's a rather small space though, so it'll focus on take-out business.
Well this is something different. Just about every construction project we cover involves a developer buying some land, building a building of some kind, and moving forward with an effort to either sell or rent out the property. But at 1506-08 E. Palmer St., that's not what's happening at all. Instead, the Grupp family purchased this parcel and are going to build a single-family home on the property that they'll use as their family home.
View of the parcel from Palmer St.
View from Memphis St.
The Grupps have taken the unusual step of setting up a website that describes their plan. And they've really done their homework. On the website, they've compiled information about the former residents of this address, archived zoning plans for the property, and general information about the rest of the block. From what they can determine, a fire occurred at this property back in the mid-1930s, destroying some very old wooden homes. And the parcel has sat vacant ever since, despite waves of construction that continue to this day. For example, the Reach Baseball Factory across the street was nicely rehabbed just a couple of years ago.
When we told you last week about twelve new units coming to the 300 block of Cecil B. Moore Ave., we didn't think we'd be back in this neck of the woods quite so quickly. But as is often the case, the story inspired a reader to reach out to us with news of other development happening nearby, and when we initially snapped photos we didn't do the greatest job exploring the surrounding blocks. Our bad. So here we are again on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, this time looking at two zoning notices at the intersection with North American Street.
Zoning notice on the southeast corner
Zoning notice on the northeast corner
The zoning notice on the south side is a very straightforward project. Developers purchased 224 Cecil B. Moore Ave. at the end of last year and are looking to build a single-family home on this lot, which is one off from the corner. The project has to go to the ZBA because the parcel is zoned for industrial use. This makes sense, as it's almost on N. American Street, but on the other hand it's not even 1,000 sqft in size, and we're not sure what kind of industrial user would be able to do anything with such a small parcel.
About a year ago, developers had an agreement in place to purchase the First African Baptist Church at 16th & Christian, intending to demolish the stone structure and build homes or condos in its place. With the congregation dating back to the early 1800s, and the attractive building having stood for over a century, many congregants were incredibly upset about this plan. A combination of legal action and a historical designation ultimately 86ed the demolition plan.
First African Baptist Church, along with the former rectory
Parking lot on Montrose Street
It wasn't long before another developer came forward to buy the church, the former rectory next door, and the adjacent parking lot on Montrose Street, this time with a plan to reuse the existing structures. Earlier this week, representatives for the developer presented plans for the property at the monthly SOSNA zoning committee meeting, and even though we couldn't make it to the meeting, we have some pretty pictures to share.
We told you about a four-home project on 2nd Street in Pennsport a few weeks ago, and mentioned in passing two more homes under construction nearby, across the street from Herron Playground. At the time, we thought we were providing an update on that project, foolishly thinking we'd mentioned it before. Upon further review, we never have!
Upon further review... Mr. Fox has a terrible memory!
So here's the skinny - developers bought 1333-35 S. 2nd St. at the end of last year, paying $450K for the pair of lots that go all the way through to Hancock Street. They've wisely subdivided the lots and are now building four homes here, with two on 2nd Street and two more on Hancock Street. Two of the homes are already under agreement and one of the Hancock homes is currently listed for $470K. Each home has 2,500 sqft of living space, with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. And as we said, they have very easy access to a playground, a huge benefit for somebody with young kids.
From an architectural perspective, it's almost always a shame to see a church get demolished. Since many churches in Philadelphia date back over a century, there are a number that provide a direct connection to a community's history. Additionally, these grand buildings add to the architectural diversity in different neighborhoods, especially those dominated by row homes. On the other side of the spectrum, there are churches that have taken over buildings that were originally built for some other purpose, and don't really create the same dynamic. The former Revelation Baptist Church at 3937 Haverford Ave. fits into that latter category.
View in the past
According to some historic maps, this building was a club in the middle of the 20th century, and all we know for sure is that it became home to a church at some point more than ten years ago. We can also tell you that its days as a house of God are at an end, as it's now in the process of getting demolished.
We spied a new hole in the ground in South Kensington, and another one could soon follow. We've visited the intersection of 6th & Thompson several times over the last few years, noting a few different projects to the north on 6th Street and a rather cool looking building on the northeast corner. In addition, we've brought the large vacant lots on the northwest and southwest corners to your attention, speculating that they'd eventually get redeveloped.
Cool building on the northeast corner, some newer buildings to the north
That new hole is located on the southwest corner. Developers bought these lots about a year and a half ago, and according to the permits it looks like they're building three new duplexes. This is in a similar vein to the other projects we've seen nearby, as many of these parcels are zoned for multi-family use.