The property at 1811-13 Ridge Ave. has been sitting vacant for at least the last twenty-five years. This was not an unusual sight for most of those years, as Francisville was in a severely depressed state, with the Ridge Avenue corridor beset by blight and vacancy. Of course, it’s old news at this point that Francisville has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last decade or so, with a ton of new residential construction throughout the neighborhood and countless mixed-use buildings appearing on the corridor. Okay, we could probably count them, but that seems like a hassle- take our word for it, it’s a bunch.

If anything, it’s a bit of a surprise that 1811-13 Ridge Ave. has remained vacant, considering all the nearby development. It could be attributed to a number of factors- its location on the northern end of the neighborhood, its unusual triangular shape, or maybe the party that owned it for the last seventeen years just didn’t feel like doing anything with it. But if you visit the property today, you can see that something has definitely happened, as a four-story mixed-use building has landed.

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View of the building
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Closer look
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Another view

Though the property is still under construction, the developers have already listed it for sale at a price of $1.175M. The listing assumes that rent in the retail space will be $3,300/mo, while the two upstairs apartments will rent for a combined $5,500. If those rents are indeed realized, then a cash buyer would be getting a roughly 7% annual return on their investment, based on net rent assumptions, so the price could be in the ballpark. Of course, the challenge for Ridge Avenue over the last several years has been attracting retail tenants, so that could complicate things. On the other hand, the corner of Ridge & Girard is very prominent, so perhaps a retail tenant will more eagerly sign on the dotted line than on other blocks of Ridge.

Former Northwestern National Bank across the street

Perhaps our favorite thing about this project is that it sits across the street from one of the more attractive buildings in the area. Originally built for Northwestern National Bank in 1886, this handsome edifice was designed by Otto C. Wolf, famously known for designing several breweries in nearby Brewerytown. Per Philaphilia, Smith Chapel Baptist Church took over the building in 1969, and from what we can see, they’ve done a pretty good job maintaining this unique structure. We certainly wouldn’t mind seeing this place everyday from our window, and pretty soon, some lucky people will have that privilege.