The Fairmount neighborhood is one of the most established in greater Center City, with a well maintained housing stock which sell for high prices, a quality neighborhood public school, and a strong commercial corridor on Fairmount Avenue (half of which is technically in Spring Garden and some of which is in Francisville, but nevertheless). Brewerytown, sitting just north of Fairmount, suffered from a tremendous amount of disinvestment over the decades, but in the last several years has experienced a rebirth of sorts, with an explosion of construction and countless new businesses opening on the Girard Avenue commercial corridor. The blocks between Poplar Street and Girard Avenue are in the Fairmount neighborhood, but have generally experienced more blight and vacancy when compared to the blocks to the south. As Brewerytown has flourished, this blight and vacancy has diminished, though there’s still room for improvement.
The most potential for improvement has traditionally centered around the 26th & Poplar intersection, where several large properties have sat vacant, underused, or both for as long as we can remember. 909 N. 26th St. has been home to Graveley Roofing for many years, and it probably made all the sense to locate a roofing company at this spot once upon a time. Today though, this location is far too prominent and the land is far too valuable for a roofing company to take up a 10K+ sqft property.
Wouldn’t you know it, there’s now a plan making the rounds to demolish the building and replace it with an apartment building with 49 units and 18 underground parking spots.The property is zoned CMX-2, which requires ground floor commercial and permits less density, so the project will need to go to the ZBA in order to move forward, whenever the ZBA starts hearing cases again. Though we don’t know all the specifics of the plan, a lack of retail certainly seems to make sense here- given that it’s off Girard and Poplar, any business would struggle with visibility. Let’s hope the project gets approved.
Assuming it does, it will join two other sizable projects in the immediate area. A small mixed-use building went up on the northeast corner of 26th & Poplar a couple years back, replacing an old industrial building. Fingers crossed that anything that appears next door uses considerably less stucco. More exciting is the project that’s finally moving forward on the northwest corner of 26th & Poplar, which will eventually include 108 units and 12K sqft of retail. This property has been in limbo for years, first with plans for an apartment building, then for homes, and now the latest multi-family plan is finally moving forward. Maybe someone will open a New English Tavern in one of the commercial spaces?