We were on our way to Brewerytown the other day, and a building we’d never noticed before caught our eye as we were traveling up 20th Street. From 20th & Girard, it looks like a regular enough brick building that’s just a bit taller than its neighbors. Upon closer inspection though, we realized that the structure at 2000 S. College Ave. is rather unique, both in terms of shape and architectural details. To put a really fine point on it, this building looks super sweet.
We couldn’t tell you much about the history of the building, but old maps indicate that the property was used for washing clothes, and also as some kind of clinic. More recently, the property has been used for residential purposes, but given the violations that have appeared over the last couple years, we believe it’s currently sitting vacant. Roughly a decade ago, the building was listed for sale for $1.6M and a developer was pretty far down the redevelopment road. They got ZBA approval to build a couple of additional stories atop the existing building and turn it into a 12-unit building, but the project never happened. We have a feeling that the Great Recession snuffed out the possibility back then, and the building never ended up selling in the end.
The parcel is fairly desirable, measuring a little less than 3,000 sqft and sitting just beyond the northern boundary of Francisville. Combine the location and the size with the multi-family zoning, and the property becomes a compelling investment opportunity, at the right price. Even though it hasn’t been listed for sale in a long time, we reached out to the property owner to enquire and they informed us that someone else already beat us to the punch and put the building under agreement. So we thought we found an investment opportunity, but in the end we only found a cool building. So it goes.
At this point, we don’t know about the future owner’s plans for the site. Will they hearken back to the plans from ten years ago and seek an addition to the existing building? Will they be satisfied to simply renovate the existing building as it is, and avoid the hassle of building up? Or will they demolish the building and build someone new (and by definition less awesome) in its place? Time will tell, but we’l surely be cheered if the developers opt for door number 1 or door number 2.