vacant commercial space

Closed for now, but will another franchisee step in?

At 46th & Baltimore in West Philly, Subway is closed, but Jared and his gang still have plans to sell sandwiches at this location. The original franchise operator has left and Subway is looking for another, according to Barry Grossbach, Spruce Hill Community Association zoning chair.

Shuttered Subway

“I could only tell you I asked the zoning attorney on our zoning committee to see what he could find out,” Grossbach said. “Evidently, and this is the only thing we know, they [Subway] are looking for another franchise operator.”

When the Subway proposal came before the SHCA two years ago after the sandwich chain announced plans to take over a long-vacant corner location at 4533 Baltimore Ave. along the Baltimore Avenue Commercial Corridor, a handful of neighbors decried the proposal because of fears: traffic and big business. First, customers would create parking issues; it's located next to an alley and driveways behind 46th Street homes, they envisioned hungry Subway shoppers zipping down in cars on their way to and from work. Then was the fact Subway is a chain franchise as opposed to an independent small business, on a corridor full of the latter. The store opened in the spring of 2012, entering into a 10-year lease.

A new letter and new owners

A story from Michael Klein clued us in a couple weeks ago about the recently opened Sarah's Place at 29th & Flora in Brewerytown. This building was, for many years, home to Sara's Place, which shut its doors a few years back. But new owners from MM Partners, a company that's done a ton of construction and renovation in the neighborhood, have fixed up the building a little bit and opened the new neighborhood bar. The inside is apparently relatively unchanged from its earlier incarnation, but the exterior has a bold new sign painted on the facade.

Sara's Place

With this place now open and Crime and Punishment in the works around the corner on Girard Avenue, Brewerytown's getting maltier by the day. We wonder though, whether the new bar on 29th Street will have a positive influence on some surrounding buildings. Immediately to the north, there's a zoning notice on 1222 N. 29th St., a former salon. The owners are hoping for a tattoo shop, and the application was continued by the ZBA back in August. So stay tuned on that property.

Our patience is rewarded

Over three years ago, we wrote about the 13th & South intersection, hoping for change for the two southern corners. Slowly, over the last year, we've learned about plans for the Residence at Twelve40 and Katertown, two adjacent projects on the southeast corner which will eventually mean twenty-one new condo units and a fresh commercial space. This will obviously be a big improvement over the vacant lot we've seen here for longer than we can remember.

Southeast corner getting turned into...

With plans crystalized for the southeast corner and with a bunch of new people living a block away at the recently completed Southstar Lofts, it seems like a fait accompli that the long-vacant retail space on the southwest corner would finally find a tenant. Remember, this place was a tattoo parlor once upon a time, but it's been sitting empty for several years and the retail space was boarded up for a time. More recently, the glass on the first floor has been cracked and the space has generally looked like crap. Despite this, a business is poised to fill this space at last.

Animals getting in on the fun

As Girard Avenue continues to grow with new retail locations filling in empty spots up and down the way, it seems the animals too are looking to get in on the fun.


The Fishtown Neighbors Association recently supported plans for a veterinary clinic to open at 233-35 E. Girard Ave., close to the Frankford & Girard intersection. The past year or so we've seen various plans for new retail just past Frankford along Girard like the popular Pizzeria Beddia or Stock, a Pho place that just opened over the weekend. 

Future clinic

A veterinary clinic will certainly cater to the needs of Fishtown residents who have dogs and cats and whatever other animals (will they treat fish at a vet clinic in Fishtown?). And there will be no shortage of new Fishtown residents unless Fishtown falls through the cracks of Philadelphia to the center of the Earth, considering the continued amount of new construction planned or occurring right now, be it the numerous infill developments or larger-scale mixed use projects.

What will fill them?

Over the weekend, we were relaxing in Rittenhouse Square and developed a healthy thirst. Searching for a bottle of water, we made our way to Walnut Street, but stopped dead in our tracks when we came upon 1720 Walnut St., home to a Cosi for as long as we can remember.

Just closed Cosi

Huh, a Cosi that closed. Didn't think that sort of thing ever happened. But look at the photo above and the proof is in the pudding. The sign indicates that the other Cosis (Cosii?) in town are still open, but that should come as no surprise. As to why the business closed, we can only speculate. But we would have to imagine that it's got something to do with rising rents on Walnut Street as the block continues to get even ritzier. It's what we would guess happened across the street at Alfa, which closed on New Years Day and remains vacant.

What kind of tenant will they find?

On and around the eastern side of South Street, turnover is often the name of the game. Sure, there are your stalwarts like Lorenzo's, Condom Kingdom, Tattooed Mom, and others, but there's also a good number of businesses opening and closing at any time. Some spaces, though, sit vacant for years. A couple years back, we covered a depressing stretch of shops on the 600 block that were together vacant for quite awhile. Fortunately, all but one of those spaces are now filled. 610-12 S. 4th St., half a block below South Street, have likewise been vacant for a long time. And they've looked kind of crappy, too.

In the past

A couple of days ago, we were on our way to Fabric Row and passed these buildings and noticed they're currently under construction. Check it out.

They've moved on to North Broad Street

When we bought a coffee table there fifteen years ago, Uhuru Furniture felt like it very much belonged on the 1200 block of Spruce Street. "Midtown Village" was barely an idea in Tony Goldman's mind, and the Gayborhood had a much grittier vibe in general. But a decade and a half of gentrification has brought ritzy restaurants, high-end shopping, and much less weirdness to the area, and Uhuru has become more of a throwback, with its narrow aisles and furniture piled high to the ceiling. But not anymore. Because a couple of weeks ago, they closed their Spruce Street store and moved to 842 N. Broad St., on the Francisville/Poplar border.

Former Uhuru space
Closer look

Uhuru, in case you're unfamiliar, is a nonprofit furniture store that sells donated furniture to support the African People's Education and Defense Fund (APEDF). The mission of the APEDF is, according to the Uhuru website, to "develop and institutionalize programs to defend the human and civil rights of the African community and to address the grave disparities in education, health, health care and economic development in the African community."

From arts supplies to supplying art

It's been almost three years since Pearl Art & Craft Supplies at 417 South St. closed their doors. Since then, the building has sat empty. And while vacancy was de rigueur on South Street a few years ago, its resurgence of late that makes this large empty retail space stick out like a bit of a sore thumb. Thankfully, it seems that plans are in the works to make this building return to life.

Current view

Signs on the building suggest that a South Street Arts Center will soon be arriving here, with a planned opening in June. Passyunk Post provides more details. Eighty-five studios will be crammed in here over three stories, with space starting at $250/month for 140 sqft. The roof will have a restaurant (makes venting easy) and a sculpture garden. Studio space will be available for painters, photographers, illustrators, graphic designers, textile workers, woodworkers, sculptors, jewelers, ceramics-makers, potters, and other visual artists. There are plans to completely rework the facade, but the initial setup calls for a simple tidying up of the existing building front.

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a new coat of paint at 20th & South, where Philly Cupcake had recently shut its doors after less than a year in business. At that time, we wondered how long it would take for the landlords to find a new tenant for the space. Apparently, not long at all.

The storefront

Last night, we spotted a couple of guys working on the inside of the now vacant space, and we asked them about the new tenant. They didn't have much info, except that the space would soon be occupied by an office of some kind. This is certainly not the most exciting news for the ever-growing South Street West corridor, but it's still nice to see the space filled so quickly. Hopefully, the landlord for the former Baja Room space will have the same luck, though perhaps with a tenant that has a little more appeal for the corridor. We shall see.

It's been nearly two years since we last visited 1526 S. 10th St., a one-story building with dreams of a taller life. When we were here the last time, the building was only one story tall, with a tarp on the roof.  But plans were in the works for a three story addition, and a conversion into a large home.

In the past

It's been radio silence on this property for months on end, but just recently a reader gave us the heads up that something was finally happening on this site.