We'd posit that the northeast corner of 26th & Pine is one of the most attractive locations in the city. It's in adorable Fitler Square, it's steps away from Schuylkill River Park, and so very close to the trail. Plus Jezabel's Cafe is right across the street and everyone loves empanadas. Oddly though, this corner has been in a state of development limbo for the last couple years. But with new ownership, it looks like things should finally be moving forward.
Turn back the clock a few years, and there were homes on this corner. These homes looked like they were built in the 1970s and certainly didn't provide a whole lot of architectural value. Like many homes built in this area in that era, they had garage fronts.
In the past
Somehow, a developer was able to buy all of the homes on this row, between Pine and Panama Streets. By 2015, they had demolished some of their buildings and had plans to build three new homes, but the plans weren't embraced by near neighbors. At the time, the developers indicated that they would try to find a way to move forward with a by-right development. But if you check in on this location today, you'll see that only one home was constructed and the rest of the property is sitting vacant. That home eventually did go to zoning, to legalize the curb cut to access its garage.
A reader tipped us off recently that work is getting started on a project that will breathe new life into a currently unappealing warehouse on the southeast corner of 28th & Cambridge. We actually told you about this project a little over a year ago, right before it came before the community. The project apparently found favor, as it got approved by the ZBA a few weeks later. Checking in on the building today, we see only small signs that construction has gotten underway, like the presence of a construction fence and a hole punched in a former window openening. But we do see they got their first building permit last month, so construction efforts should soon grow much more apparent.
The 2000 block of Gerritt Street has experienced some changes since we last visited about a year and a half ago. At that time, vacant lots outnumbered buildings and there was one new home under construction on the block.
Overhead view from a couple years ago
Today, there are six new homes on the block, with a few of them having sold at prices between $350K and $410K. Remarkably, 2029 Gerritt St. is currently listed for sale for $470K. We're certainly rooting for 'em.
Three newer homes on the block
As you can sort of see in the image above though, the block is in the very early stages of a construction boom. Here, let's back up a bit to give you a better idea of what we're talking about.
We last visited the corner of Mascher & Oxford a little over a month ago, and were a little confused about a zoning notice posted on a vacant lot at the corner advertising a plan for eight new homes. This seemed curious, since the developers had subdivided part of the property into ten lots last summer, so we didn't know whether this application was a change to the previous plan or whether it meant that even more homes would be rising here. Passing by the property just the other day, we spied a sign at the corner which directed us to a website for the project that provided some helpful information.
Though many surrounding blocks have improved dramatically over the last several years, the 2000 block of Reed Street has remained stubbornly crappy. Part of that may have to do with the fact that there's a funeral home at the corner of 20th & Reed. But we'd say it's got more to do with the the fact that there have been several long vacant properties on the south side of the block and the north side of the block has historically been a mix of vacant land and a big ugly warehouse. But times are changing for this block.
Looking west on the 2000 block of Reed
Closer look at two new homes
At 2036 and 2040 Reed St., developers are building a pair of new townhomes. These lots have been sitting empty for at least a decade, so it's encouraging to see that they are finally filling in. Also notable, the blighted home next door was purchased by another developer back in 2014, so there's a good chance it will soon get redeveloped as well. As for the still vacant lot at 2038 Reed St., it's owned by a City agency and could continue to sit empty for years to come. Or it could change hands tomorrow, for affordable or market rate housing. One thing is almost certain, if someone does buy it, they will almost definitely not pay full price, as we've seen time and time again in this neighborhood.
Inspired by a reader tip, we took a trip up to the beautiful riverside neighborhood of East Falls the other week. 3460 Midvale Ave. was once the property of Redeemer Lutheran Church, which was closed after a sad and politically messy property rights battle between the congregation and the Lutheran Synod around 2008-2012. It ended with the Synod winning and the property being sold to developers. At the time, East Falls Local provided extensive coverage of the neighborhood dispute and also posted a good number of pictures of the interior of the church. In 2015, the new owners, HOW Properties, presented residential redevelopment plans for the building and the rest of the property which fronts W. Penn Street. Under the plan, the church is being repurposed as a 9 unit apartment building and 5 townhouses are getting built along W. Penn Street. The zoning variances that were requested for the development were eventually granted and the property has been under construction ever since.
The old church building
The actual church building looks very much as it did when it was still a church. The W. Penn Street side of the property originally had a one story school building and a small playground. Here's what it used to look like back in 2014:
Meandering through the River Wards the other day, we spied a vacant building at 2530 E. Hagert St. that we had never noticed before, even though it's been in poor condition for several years. Something about the property gave us the feeling that developers already had this property in the crosshairs, and we were on the money in that regard. The property traded about a year ago, selling for $95K, and we have to think it won't be long until the owners tear down the blighted building and construct a new single-family home here.
Tasked with purchasing some ephemera for a New Years Eve party, we recently found our way to Party City, located in the Whitman Shopping Center at 3rd & Oregon. Party hats and plastic champagne flutes in hand, we made our way back toward Center City, enjoying the South Philly experience of driving north on 2nd Street for a spell. After just a block though, we were stopped dead in our tracks by the sight of some new construction on the 2500 block of S. 2nd Street. This is simply not an area where we would ever expect to find any development activity. And yet...
Three new homes
Two foundations next door
We couldn't tell you why this unassuming block had a large stretch of empty lots for many years on its western side. But if we turn back the clock to 2007, we see that the vacancy dates back at least a decade.
We should have guessed the the developer was the Riverwards Group, as they've been behind just about every major project in this neighborhood of late through their BMK Homes arm. They're calling the project Avenue 30, probably because it's on Lehigh Avenue and it will involve 30 homes. The project will include five different floor plans, with sizes ranging from 1,640-2,200 sqft, and as we said, some units will have one-car parking while others will have space for two cars. The site plan shows a surprising number of homes with a square shape, an approach we don't often see developers take when they aren't faced with oddly shaped lots. Still, it seems to work pretty well in this case. Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the project is that ingress and egress will happen on Amber and Collins Streets underneath carriage house units, and not from Lehigh Avenue. This is the case even though the shared drive-aisle is oriented toward Lehigh. Though this is perhaps a little counterintuitive, it will surely increase traffic safety as it relates to this development.
The Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse is located at the corner of 2nd & Cecil B. Moore and holds biweekly furniture sales, offering a collection of "professionally restored American Mid-Century, and Scandinavian furniture" in a spacious and unheated warehouse. We've been meaning to check it out for quite some time and finally made it over there this weekend. The place is legit, and if money and space were no object we would have bought up half the stock. Alas, both money and space are indeed objects and we left emptyhanded. Around the corner though, we spied some new construction at 1638 and 1640 N. 2nd St., so the trip wasn't for naught. These properties were, until quite recently, sitting vacant.
In the past
As of this weekend, a pair of four-story buildings had appeared here.