The east side of the 2000 block of S. Broad St. contains a mix of retail spaces, bookended by a pair of attractive buildings that were originally constructed as banks. 2001 S. Broad St. was built for the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society and is now a Citizens Bank. 2037 S. Broad St. was home to a Beneficial Bank for many years, with the bank relocating (and eventually getting bought by WSFS Bank) and the building turning into a Wendy’s about half a decade ago. The Wendy’s couldn’t stick, however, and now the building is available for sublease.
The businesses on the rest of the block are a collection of national chains, with clothing stores and fast food places standing in direct contrast to the independently owned businesses around the corner on Passyunk Avenue. It’s interesting that the Wendy’s was not successful here, and may be an indication that market conditions are shifting on this block. Another indication of this change can be found next door at 2033-35 S. Broad St., which was home to a McDonald’s location since the late 1970s. The McDonald’s closed a few years back, and their space has been sitting vacant since that time. If a McDonald’s and a Wendy’s can’t make it at the same corner, perhaps a pivot from fast food might make some sense here?
And indeed, a pivot is exactly what we’ll be seeing here in the near future. Developers purchased this property about two years ago for $825K and have been working on a redevelopment plan which was surely delayed some due to COVID. We see they’ve pulled a permit to build an addition here, with four stories going on top of the existing building. According to permits, the first floor will contain a medical office while the upper floors will include 18 apartments. Ian Smith Design Group is the architect for the project.
Assuming it’s built to the specs shown in the rendering, this thing is gonna be awesome. The banks on the north and south sides of this block are stately examples of early 20th century architecture, while the buildings in between are mostly crap. The planned project at 2033 S. Broad St. would bring a contemporary addition to the block which looks like it would fit right in with the old banks, with the architects echoing numerous details from the building next door. From the color scheme to the materials choices to the double cornice, it’s obvious that a lot of thought went into the design. And those big windows aren’t too shabby either.
This parcel is zoned CMX-2.5, which means that the height and density of the addition were permitted by right. We wonder whether this project might portend other such projects in the future, especially if we’re to assume that business isn’t quite as strong around here as it once was. Certainly the medical use on the first floor makes sense here, given the medical complex across the street, and we wonder whether we might see other medical uses filter onto this block in the years to come, perhaps in conjunction with more density. Sadly, we don’t imagine any of those theoretical projects would try as hard as this project in terms of design, but hey, you never know.