About a year ago, we visited the 1500 block of Brown Street and noted that several projects were in the pipeline for the block, though most were not evident to the casual observer at the time. The most obvious project was happening at the northeast corner of 16th & Brown, where developers had just demolished a pair of buildings and had plans to construct a quadplex in their place. It took a little bit of time for the construction process to lurch forward, perhaps due to a permitting issue, but now you can see the new building has been framed out.
New quadplex at 16th & Brown
Moving to the east, when we were last here we noted two relatively new triplexes on the block. 1519 Brown St. was built around 2013, with units selling between $190K and $260K. 1517 Brown St. arrived on the scene in 2016, and those units sold between $220K and $320K. This gives you an idea of just how much the market has grown in Francisville in the last few years. Next door, developers are just starting to frame three more triplexes, where we have to think the units will sell at even higher prices.
Three properties on the 1900 block of Christian Street have been stuck in purgatory for the last several years, but it seems that a resolution has finally arrived. Turning back the clock, the Christian Medical Center made its home at 1929-33 Christian St. for a number of years, with stucco covering the first floor of the facade and vinyl siding on the upper floors. At some point the medical offices closed and the buildings were converted into apartments but aside from two-thirds of an amazing cornice, the properties still looked quite awful.
Several years ago
We checked in on these buildings in late 2014, after they were purchased by developers. As a first step, the developers removed the stucco and the siding, revealing the original facades that had been hidden for many years. As exciting as it was to see the old facades, it was at the same time very upsetting to realize just how badly the buildings had been butchered over time.
Chain link fence is a very important part of our job. When we're cruising around town looking for stuff to write about, the sight of chain link fence is often a cue that development is brewing. Often, without knowing anything whatsoever about a property, we'll snap a couple of photos of a chain link fence with a plan to later look at the L&I Map to see whether a new project is on the horizon. When we realized that every corner of the 10th & Mount Vernon intersection boasted some chain link fence, we figured we'd have strong chance of discovering something new. And we were correct.
We've been following incremental changes on the 2400 block of Coral St. between Hagert and Boston Streets in the last few years, as we've seen three new homes get built and some others get renovated. Just two properties remain vacant on this block, a City-owned property and a privately owned double-wide vacant lot that's been waiting for its moment in the sun. For the City owned lot, the status quo remains. But for the double wide lot, development should be happening very soon.
In the past
Current view from Hagert
You can almost see in the second image above, there's a zoning notice posted at 2425-27 Coral St., the aforementioned vacant lot. Here's a better look at what we're talking about.
It was just a few months ago that we happened upon some new construction at 1638 and 1640 N. 2nd St. after a less than successful visit to the nearby Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse. At the time, we told you that developers were filling in a pair of large vacant lots with four new mixed-use buildings, with a pair on 2nd Street and two more on Philip Street. The mixed-use was happening by right, and made some degree of sense on 2nd Street as it's something of a mixed-use corridor. But we were confused as to how retail would work on residential Philip Street.
New buildings on Philip Street
As some months have rolled by, the exterior construction on the buildings has proceeded pretty much as you would expect. But plans for the interiors are changing, per some relatively new zoning notices. The developers are looking to change the mixed-use buildings to triplexes, both on 2nd Street and Philip Street. This certainly makes sense to us, and we wonder whether this was the plan all along. If this was indeed the plan all along, it's an example of a method we've cited numerous times in neighborhoods heavy on student housing. This might be an even easier zoning lift, as the properties had been zoned CMX-2 but were rezoned to residential at some point since the permits were pulled.
Corner store turned hair salon turned dentist office
Across the intersection, at 532 Fitzwater St., we see demolition work is taking place. This building was surely home to a retail business back in the day, and you can even see that large window openings have been bricked up over time. For as long as we can remember, we've seen signs for the Democratic 2nd Ward on the building, but we couldn't tell you whether politicos were using the space every day, once a month, once a year, or ever. Suffice to say, nobody will be using it again as it will soon be totally demolished. Plans call for a four-story triplex in its place, which can be built by right.
Francisville has grown by leaps and bounds in the last half decade, but some blocks in the neighborhood have remained in sad shape. Even Ridge Avenue, which has seen numerous new buildings sprout up in recent years, still has its share of blight and vacancy. A couple years ago, we drew your gaze to the 1400 block of Ogden Street which was notable in that it was almost entirely vacant, and wondered when someone would start redeveloping this block. We saw signs of life about a year ago, when developers had framed out a five-story building with three apartments and ground-floor parking at the southeast corner of 15th & Ogden. While the building has progressed considerably since then, it surprisingly doesn't appear to be totally done just yet.
SE corner of 15th & Ogden
But wait! What's that we see next door to the building!?! Could that be... construction?
Duplexes under construction next door
Holy smokes, that's exactly what it is. A developer picked up 1436 and 1440 Ogden St. back in 2012, but they took their sweet time with these properties. Now they're well on their way to building a pair of duplexes. Will the units be offered for sale? For rent? Who knows.
We first visted the 1500 block of Parrish Street over five years ago, when we shared the news that the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale planned to buy a warehouse at 1521 Parrish St. and make their home there, moving from a space near Drexel's campus. Part of that plan also included the purchase of what we believe was once a stable at 1533 Parrish St., the demolition of said building, and the creation of a surface parking lot. But alas, that plan never came to fruition, the Boys Choir instead moved to a space near Broad & Spring Garden, 1521 Parrish St. got converted into apartments, and 1533 Parrish St. never got torn down.
Turning back the clock a couple of decades, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood had well over a thousand vacant lots and buildings literally littering the area. The 2100 block of Carpenter Street was among the worst in the neighborhood. In 2004, at least thirty out of forty-seven properties on the block were sitting vacant. As we've covered before, the block has now totally filled in, with many of the new construction buildings featuring lovely stucco bay windows.
Looking west on Carpenter St.
Despite the dramatic improvement to the block, 2100 Carpenter St. has remained vacant and blighted as the years have rolled along. We mentioned the property a little over a year ago, mentioning that it had a ton of violations and had been owned by the same party since 2006. It also had some sweet graffiti. A neighbor gave us the heads up earlier today though, that a chain link fence recently appeared around the property which gives us a sense that renovation or demolition could be on the horizon. Sweet news indeed.
A reader tipped us off the other day about some impending construction on the 1200 block of N. 25th St. and we couldn't shake the feeling we'd visited the block before. But we couldn't quite figure out when or why. Looking at the Google Street View of the block from a couple years ago, we saw an image of the building that once stood at 1230-32 N. 25th St., and then the lightbulb went on.
In the past
We wrote about this building almost four years ago, shortly before its demolition. We were sorry to see the building come down as it had several unique architectural characteristics, most notable that it was too skinny to have a proper front door. As we said previously, we have to imagine that the entrance was at one point more attractive and elaborate than the shed pictured above, but it's now lost to history along with the rest of the building. The ten unit building that was constructed in its place doesn't exactly possess the same character as the old building, as you might expect.