For all of the wonderful and unique neighborhoods that dot Philadelphia’s every corner, South Philly has an energy to it that is tough to pinpoint. Packed densely with rowhomes and low-rise commercial buildings, the devotion to the street grid and the paucity of trees compared to other areas gives an undeniably urban feel while also being intensely human scaled. As such, it’s no wonder the romance the area holds, even when it’s not looking its best.

Which brings us to 900-08 McKean St. in the heart of East Passyunk. Formerly Mike’s Car Care (not to be confused with Joel’s Tire Shop), we stopped by the area back in 2020 when we thought there were plans for the property (more on that in a bit). The site looks mostly the same as it did then, but there is a residential upgrade afoot for this property that could use a bit of TLC.

The SW corner of 9th & McKean as it looked at our last visit
Looking similar today, with some additional wear and graffiti
Ooh la la!

As you can see, the property has sat empty and is offering little more than blight and weeds for the corner. But, it appears that won’t remain for much longer. A zoning permit was issued the other day for a four-story, 24-unit building, which will include ground floor commercial space, as well as some additional density thanks to green roof and mixed-income bonuses. We don’t have many details, except that Kore Design will be bringing their geometric stylings to the proceedings.

An elevation drawing shows...not much

You may have also noticed some wood framing going up just behind this property, as well. We originally expected to see five duplexes rise here several years back, but a more recent zoning permit was issued to subdivide the lot into six single-family homes. Construction is now well underway here, and thanks to an old listing for the property, we have an idea of what the final product might look like for the corner of 9th & Emily.

The view of the low-rise building that used to stand at 9th & Emily
The building is long gone, with six single-family homes on the way
A marketing rendering gives an idea of what we could see

File this under “You love to see it,” as this shift toward residential seems more appropriate than low-rise buildings and surface lots. However, we doubt we’d see this much action here if it wasn’t for the Bok Building just a block to the north. This multi-purpose, adaptive reuse of the former school – led by Lindsey Scannapieco’s Scout – has been a runaway success, serving as an anchor institution in this section of South Philly. We’d imagine this won’t be the last time we’re down in this area to check on things in the near future. Now excuse as us we make our way up to Bok Bar to take in those epic Center City views.

The Bok Building sits just a block up the street