From what we can tell from looking at the architecture and considering the history of the area, we have to think that 906 N. Broad St. was originally built as a car dealership. Today, the rather large but boring one-story building has been chopped up and is home to a Family Dollar, a seafood restaurant, and a mini market. As locations go, it's loaded with potential. It sits on the edge of Francisville, it's not far from Temple University, and the Metropolitan Opera House is just a few steps away.
Looking north on Broad Street
It seems we aren't alone in the opinion that there's potential here. Developers bought the property a couple years ago and are working on a plan to build a five story addition atop the existing building. The project would include 100 apartments, 8 parking spots, and 33 bike spaces, along with three vacant retail spaces. It's set to go to the ZBA, but will also need to go to Civic Design Review. Once it appears on the CDR agenda, we'll learn some more details and will also get our mitts on some renderings. Until then, we'll just hope that it holds a candle, architecturally, to the nearby Met.
A reader that works at Temple Hospital reached out to us recently, wondering about a building under construction on the east side of the 2400 block of N. Broad Street. We can forgive the question, since we last visited this project almost a year ago, shortly after ground breaking but before construction really got started in earnest. To refresh everybody's memory, we told you last year that Project HOME was planning an 88-unit affordable housing building at 2415 N. Broad St., on a large parcel that was half vacant land and half old warehouse. If you visit the property today, you can see that they've made some considerable progress.
View from the north
View from the south
Once the construction is finished, the building should look like this:
Money Max Funding operated out of the two-story building at 641 N. Broad St. for over a decade, primarily offering taxi medallion brokerage and other financial services for cab drivers. As Uber and Lyft have taken on a much larger role in getting people from one place to another over the last few years, the taxi industry has felt a dramatic pinch. And we have to think that this trickled down to Money Max Funding, as they're no longer operating out of their longtime home and the phone number on their website goes to a cab company. You can see, their signage has been stripped off the building.
One of our first predictions for 2017 was that North Broad Street would take a major step forward this year, and it didn't even take two weeks for news to emerge that supports this expectation. Hey, when you're good, you're good.
About a year and a half ago, we told you about an amazing old building available for sale at the corner of Broad & York and encouraged you to buy it, if you're into that sort of thing. And it's quite possible this story inspired somebody out there, as the building changed hands for $825K in the summer of 2015. When we first brought the property to your attention, we wondered what someone could ultimately do with this property, as it was originally built as the Mikveh Israel synagogue and is listed on the local historic register.
View of the building
View from across the street
It turns out, the folks that bought the building decided to either open a retail store in the building or have leased it out as such. Official Unlimited is a retail store with another location in Willow Grove that sells clothing items from various brands. At their address on North Broad Street, they've taken advantage of the amazing interior of the building to present their wares. The building is divided into two separate rooms, with a small space in the front which we imagine was once a lobby, and a larger space in the back which we have to believe was the sanctuary. Check it out:
Compared to the pace of construction from a few years ago, there's not much development happening in the neighborhoods around Temple these days. You can probably chalk that up to a combination of a shrinking supply of vacant land and a growing supply of new student housing which could translate into a dip in rent numbers. That being said, there's still some stuff happening around these parts, like at 1254 N. Carlisle St. where developers recently tore down a one story warehouse. The now vacant L-shaped lot is surrounded by a chain link fence which gave us the sense that something might be happening here.
In the past
According to zoning plans submitted for the property, we can soon expect a four-story building here with 18 apartments. The project will also include five parking spots in a surface parking lot, accessed from Burns Street. Looking at the site plan, it appears there will be some open space between the building and the parking lot, and we have no idea what's happening with that space.
We were on North Broad Street just a couple days ago, telling you about an eight story building planned for the 800 block, and we reminded you that the amazing and beautiful Metropolitan Opera House was getting renovated at some undetermined point in the near future. Yesterday, we got an email from CBRE advertising up to 5,600 sqft of retail space for rent at the Met, which gives us a hint that redevelopment might be coming sooner than later. This is clearly phenomenal news.
A couple of readers have reached out over the last few days to give us the heads up that some new permits have appeared on a chain link fence on North Broad Street, in between Uhuru Furniture and the appropriately named Tire Shop. We made our way to 836 N. Broad St. earlier today and discovered a vacant property looking much like it has over the last few years. But that's about to change in a big way.
The hits keep on coming for North Broad Street. Once seen as the red headed stepchild of the Avenue of the Arts, North Broad Street has seen an amazing resurgence in the last few years and its future is incredibly bright. At Broad & Fairmount, the renovation of the Divine Lorraine is progressing, restoring one of the most striking buildings on the corridor and bringing 121 new units to the area. Restaurants like Osteria and Alla Spina are making North Broad Street a destination for people that don't live nearby. And very soon, even more people will call North Broad Street home.
Yesterday, Philly.com reported that the Parkway Corporation has purchased the large surface parking lot on the northwest corner of Broad & Spring Garden. The plans are a little nebulous at this time, but should be of the mixed-use variety and include residential, office space, and retail. And since it's Parkway, we have to assume that parking will also be involved, even though the property sits on a BSL stop.
Another day, another vacant Francisville lot getting redeveloped.
These days, it seems that you can't go a single block in this neighborhood without running into a contractors framing a building, pouring a foundation, or digging a new hole. Ridge Avenue is particular is seeing an explosion in development, with a bunch of mixed-use projects now under construction and more coming soon. We don't know exactly what businesses will fill all those retail spaces, but we do know that they'll need as many neighbors as possible to ensure success. Or at least viability.
So let's consider 1431 Brown St. as a prime example of the kind of project that will help Ridge Avenue get to where it needs to go.
1431-33 Brown St. has been sitting vacant for many years, owned by religious institutions since the 1950s. At some point in the last few months, developers bought the property and now they're proposing a ten-unit building here. This is a lot of density for what's essentially a double-wide lot, but why the heck not? Ridge Avenue is just steps away and as we said, the corridor needs as much density as it can get. And not for nothing, but North Broad Street is almost as close, with a Broad Street Line station less than two blocks away.