The Graduate Hospital has seen a lengthy list of churches face the wrecking ball in the last handful of years, including the Metropolitan AME church at 20th & Fitzwater, the Varick AME church at 19th & Catharine, and Mount Olive AME at 19th & Fitzwater. All of these buildings were architecturally impressive and have been replaced by new construction homes that won't similarly stand the test of time. But all is not lost in this neighborhood! The former Saint Matt's on Grays Ferry Avenue has turned into the Sanctuary Lofts and we recently learned that the former First African Church at 16th & Christian will be turned into a day care and two fancy condos.
All of the buildings we've mentioned were/are pretty wonderful and worth saving. But the same can't be said for every church in the neighborhood. Take, for example, the building at 605 S. 16th St. which was home to the Christian Faith Evangelistic Alliance for a number of years. The double-wide property has a faux stone facade, a gabled roof, and rises only one story. As churches in Philadelphia go, it's one of the more unremarkable buildings you'll see.
And perhaps that's why, when developers presented plans to demolish the building earlier this year, nobody expressed much aggravation about the idea. At the SOSNA meeting regarding the project, the discussion centered around whether a retail use on the first floor would be appropriate because of the building's proximity to South Street West, but neighboring residents had no interest in commercial activity here. Ultimately, the developer decided to build five condo units here, and the ZBA granted the variance several months ago. Demolition is now slowly moving forward.
The new building is designed by Toner Architects and will rise four stories, with bi-level units on the basement/1st floor, a single-floor unit on the 2nd floor, and two more bi-level units on the 3rd and 4th floors. Each of the units will lay out differently but they'll all be roughly the same size, with squarefootage ranging from 965 to 1234 sqft.
Look for construction to get started shortly after demolition finishes up.
Disclosure: OCF Realty, parent company of Naked Philly, is the broker for this project.