Non-profit Brandywine Workshop bought 730 S. Broad St. roughly 40 years ago, a purchase that included a historic double-wide building, a beat up warehouse, and a sizable vacant lot. According to a story from Hidden City, the historic Italianate building on the property was designed by architect Samuel Sloan and dated back to 1849. It was originally built as a volunteer fire house and was used as a police station and a starch works over the years, but when Brandywine bought the property, it had been sitting vacant for decades. Within a short period of time, Brandywine renovated the building into a multi-story gallery space and art center.

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In the past

The beat up warehouse on the property was torn down many years ago, creating an even larger vacant lot on the northern side of the property. Within the last few years, Brandywine got pretty far down the road on a project to build a new building on that lot with 33 apartments and a restaurant on the first floor, but that project never came to fruition. Instead, they decided to sell off the vacant portion of their property, within the last year or so. That property is no longer vacant, as a project has been under construction there for a few months. Check it out:

Current view

Developer/builder G&M Efestos is building a by-right project here, constructing four high-end homes on the long vacant lot. The homes will be enormous, with 4,500 sqft of living space, 2-car parking, and elevators going from the basements to the fifth floors of the homes. Given the size, the parking, the location, and the planned finishes, prices will start at $2.2M. They will line up nicely with the adjacent buildings on the block in terms of height, but will stand in contrast with their contemporary style, as you can see in these renderings from Gnome Architects.

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Project rendering
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Overhead rendering

One could make the argument that greater height would make sense at this location, but five stories is actually fairly consistent with most of the other buildings on surrounding blocks. We should also note that building any kind of height on such a relatively small lot would be cost prohibitive, unless you’re building on a property that truly in the heart of downtown, like 1101 Walnut. Further, mansions have historically had a strong presence on Broad Street, with examples running deep into South Philly and way up past City Hall on North Broad. These will follow in that tradition, though they’ll trade horse parking for car parking, as seems appropriate in this day and age.

Disclosure: OCF Realty, the parent company of Naked Philly, is the broker on this project.