Bella Vista is such a quintessential Philly neighborhood, with rows of rowhomes running up against neighborhood businesses. Dante & Luigi’s might be the archetypal South Philly small business, as the oldest Italian restaurant in the city, proudly gracing the northwest corner of 10th & Catherine. As much as we’d love to crush plate after plate of pasta, today we’re looking just across the street at the northeast corner, to check in on the property where a former bank and several parking spots are making a mixed-use move.


In the mid-1960s, the Italian Merchants Savings and Loan constructed a new bank building at 769-775 S. 10th St., featuring architectural details befitting the era. Over the years, it has continued to be used for banking, flying different flags as time passed. It appears that the S&L changed their name to First Penn Bank somewhere along the line, and more recently this was a Conestoga Bank and then a WSFS Bank branch. As you can see, though, it’s currently a hole in the ground, partially filled with rubble.

An aerial shows the former bank highlighted in the middle of the rowhouse-dense neighborhood
A view of the bank from the recent past
And the view today of the nearly cleared property
View looking north from 10th & Catherine
Dante & Luigi's beckoning us from the northwest corner of 10th & Catherine

13 units will soon rise here, in this mixed-use project from developers Center City Development. A commercial space will take up the 10th Street side of the ground floor of this four-story structure designed by Landmark Architectural Design. Demolition is still on-going, but renderings on site show a handsome brick building with a touch of industrial styling, with a small landscaped plaza on the north side, adjacent to the neighboring property. A low-income zoning bonus was applied here, bumping the permitted number of units from 9 up to the current 13, along with seven feet of extra height.

Current view from the corner of Catherine & S. Delhi
A closer look at the on-going demo

This project is about as good as it gets in this neck of the woods. We love the scale and style of the building, offering an interesting approach and sturdy materials that seem right for the area. The addition of affordable units and extra density are a clear step up from a low-rise commercial structure, though we definitely appreciated its throw-back design. And who knows? Perhaps a bank will fill in the commercial space here, providing a useful service to folks in the area. We understand the lack of parking may irk near neighbors given the parking issues in the area, but hopefully this will encourage future residents to hop on a bike or utilize transit instead. Either way, we’d wager that the folks living here will be regularly tempted by the lasagna next door. That stuff is dangerously delicious.