Earlier this summer, we spotted scaffolding at 1224 Frankford Ave., a building that's been sitting vacant for several years. In its previous lives it served as an ice storage building, a brewery, and a pickle factory, and we've speculated that it could eventually become a boutique hotel. But for the moment, the scaffolding is only meant to restore the brick and repair the facade.
Last week, the building's eyesore status was severely challenged when the Mural Arts Program recruited a famous guy to muralize its north face. Shepard Fairey is the guy who made the Obama "HOPE" portrait that you've probably seen once or twice, and he also made the "Obey Giant" stickers that still make the rounds decades after they first appeared. His Wikipedia page is long; this guy's a big deal. Last Friday, the first of three planned Philadelphia murals from Fairey was dedicated on Frankford Avenue, titled Lotus Diamond.
According to a Newsworks story covering the mural's dedication, the owner of the property, Roland Kassis, is indeed working on plans to develop a 125-room hotel at this site in the next couple of years. There will be an effort to incorporate the mural into the interior of the hotel, though it's quite possible that the redevelopment of the site will mean a premature end for the mural. And though we'll take development over preserving a mural any day of the week, this makes us wonder why the mural couldn't have gone on the other side of the building which seems it would have remained visible for many years to come. Hopefully the other projects on Fairey's Philadelphia agenda will have a little more anticipated staying power.
Still, if you're making your way to Frankford Hall and have a craving to stare deeply into Andre the Giant's eyes after you've had a few, the opportunity is right there for you. At least for now.