New Construction

Hello mixed-use building

For at least a decade, 143 W. Girard Ave., one of the more interesting buildings in the area, has sat vacant. You've probably passed by here at some point and wondered about it yourself, since its signage is both prominent and memorable. We've probably had half dozen readers ask us about the "Lou's Crab Pad" building over the years, wondering why it's remained vacant and when it will be redeveloped. And to those who have been wondering, it seems the time has finally come.

In the past

Several readers gave us the heads up in recent days that the two buildings on the corner of Mascher & Girard are being demolished. While we're happy to see that this property is being redeveloped, we're pretty bummed that a building with such character will be departing this realm. With the demolition of the two buildings here, it of course begs the question of what's coming next. Regrettably, only demolition permits have been pulled to this point. But we did a little digging around and discovered some elevations drawings on the website for Ian Smith Design Group.

Or maybe not...

A hundred years ago, it made plenty of sense to have warehouses and factories located in the middle of residential areas. The Washington Avenue of the past, with its lumber mills and coal yards, makes today's forklift-laden obstacle course seem extremely tame by comparison. When the Philadelphia Traction Company had warehouses at 20th & Wharton over a hundred years ago, it seems unlikely that anybody batted an eye. But today, they don't belong there at all. Which is why we were so excited to tell you a few months ago that one of the warehouses would be disappearing and forty-eight homes would be appearing in its place. And it's why we're so excited today to tell you that the second warehouse could disappear as well.

It's taken years

In fits and starts, the 100 blocks of Alter and Ellsworth Streets have been under construction for over a decade. It started around 2006, when five homes went up on Alter and another five rose on Ellsworth. Then there was nothing for a few years. Over the last couple of years though, we've seen additional infill construction. New homes have gone up on Ellsworth Street, finishing the row. A mixed-use building containing a salon arrived on 2nd Street. And last summer, we told you about three new homes on Alter Street.

A home fit for a music mogul

Way back in 2011, we told you that a row of five homes were being demolished on 15th Street, just north of Christian Street. Based on the ownership records of those properties, we joked around and speculated that music legend and Universal Companies founder Kenny Gamble would be building himself a mansion here. In February of 2012, our unfounded theory unexpectedly came true when Gamble's representatives presented plans to SOSNA for a triple-wide home on the northern three parcels. It took until last October for groundbreaking, and then a hole unfortunately was all we saw here for several months. Somewhat recently, construction finally began here in earnest.

But buildings should remain

In gentrifying neighborhoods, a common theme has been the demolition of old churches and the construction of new homes in their place. We've seen this pattern repeated at 20th & Fitzwater where six homes replaced a church, at 19th & Catharine where ten homes rose in a church's place a few years after its demolition, at 19th & Poplar where duplexes got built instead of homes, and in other spots as well. So when we spotted a dumpster this weeked in front of 1609-11 Federal St., long the home of the New Hope Baptist Church, we figured history would be repeating itself once again.

3 projects getting started

Early this morning, we were passing through Mantua and spotted a construction fence on the south side of the 3400 block of Wallace Street. Across the street and down the block, we then saw formwork, announcing another project nearby. This made lots of sense to us, as vacant land in this area has become increasingly attractive to investors looking to build student housing. And we'd bet that's exactly what will happen here.

Two triplexes coming
Homes next to future construction

Developer Ramy Shraim bought 3432 and 3434 Wallace St. back in 2012, and is just now getting around to developing them. You may recall, this is the same developer that built a rental property on Lancaster Avenue on the site of an old gas station. According to the L&I Map, Shraim is building two triplexes on these lots, which we are confident will also be rentals. Count on them to target Drexel students.

Slowly but surely

The 1400 block of Bainbridge Street has seen incredible change in the last decade. The primary driver of change on this block has been the high-end Artisan homes, which have risen in two phases over several years.

Artisan homes

Close to Broad Street, two of the largest homes in the neighborhood have been under slow but steady construction for over a year, on a lot where a large auto garage once stood. The last time we checked in on this project, framing was just getting underway. Now, the homes are pretty much framed out.

Framed out

A reader asked us on Twitter about this project, suggesting that some other sites have stated that the homes are only 1,900 sqft in size. Obviously, that ain't the case. Perhaps because they saw the conversation or maybe by total coincidence, representatives from Landmark Architecture reached out to us, clarifying some of the info for these homes. They will each have 16,000 sqft of interior space and another 4,000 sqft of deck space. The homes will have six or seven bedrooms, and eight or nine bathrooms. Amenities include parking, an au pair suite, basement basketball courts, and a swimming pool. And we got a rendering, too!

Several project progressing

Over a year ago, we visited the 1900 block of Titan Street in Point Breeze, and told you about plans to replace three older homes with new three story structures. We revisited the block the other day, and discovered that two of those homes are now under construction.

1925 Titan St. with a setback
No setback needed at 1944 Titan St.

As you can see, new construction has appeared at 1925 Titan St., replacing an old row home. They didn't have to do this, but they were kind enough to maintain the cornice line at the second story before they set back the third floor. As a result, it doesn't look totally ridiculous like so many homes with a similar setback. Down the block, 1944 Titan St. has seen construction proceed at a brisk pace, and lacks a setback because it has a previously existing three story home next door. It's currently on the market at a price of $384K. We hope they get what they're asking.

In the background of the second photo above, you can see another home framed on the other side of 20th Street.

Replacing two ugly buildings

Several months ago, we brought some demolition to your attention at the corner of 20th & Waverly. Back then, a three story building with vinyl siding was biting the dust. Eventually, the garage next door would succumb as well.

In the past

Now, a new double-wide home is rising in the place of these buildings.

Huge house getting framed

As you can see, this thing is gonna be a big boy. We can't wait to see what kind of finishes are included in the facade, and whether it takes on more of a classic or contemporary look. With Shimi Zaken as the architect, our bet's on the latter. But we'll check back over the summer, and should have the answers to those questions. And more.

Will complete the block

We last visited the 1900 block of League Street back in October, and when we went there today it looked almost identical. One notable exception is that there's a duplex under construction at the corner of 19th & League, which we brought to your attention several weeks ago when it was only a hole in the ground. Today, there are five newer homes on the eastern side of the block, near the construction. Five more homes on the block's western side have been completed in the last six months. But a large gap remains in between the two projects.

Homes on the eastern side
Western side, mind the gap

That gap will soon be filled by an additional five homes which we would guess will strongly resemble the homes pictured immediately above. A fence is up and foundations have been poured, suggesting that construction could soon get underway.


In addition, there's one more foundation on the block's eastern side, next to the framed out duplex. When all these projects are finished, it will represent a dramatic transformation for this block. Back in 2007, there were zero homes on this block, and a stone yard took up a big chunk of its western end.