Former Firehouse on 16th Street Won’t Get Entirely Demoed

A reader reached out to us the other day, worried sick about a demolition notice they’d spied on an old firehouse in Grad Hospital. Firemen haven’t hung their hats at 752 S. 16th St. for a number of years, as the building was converted into a quadplex somewhere along the line, but the facade has maintained its historic appearance, and its original use is pretty obvious to anyone walking past. So we were pretty bummed when we heard about a sign on the building indicating its imminent demise.

Old fire house

Looking at public record, we see that developers purchased the property about a year ago, paying $975K. Given the price paid, some kind of redevelopment was always going to be in the cards, so the demo notice isn’t remotely surprising. But it’s not as bad as it seems- we were pleased to learn that the building isn’t being entirely torn down, just the rear portion. In fact, the first 30′ of the old firehouse is going to remain and a new structure will rise behind it, with the combined new building containing a total of 11 units. Even though there’s a garage entrance and an existing curb cut, it appears that this project will be by-right, which means that there won’t be a parking component. While that may frustrate a neighborhood where parking is at a major premium, there’s nothing much anyone can do about this other than grouse.

Construction site to the north

On the plus side, at least the project progressing a couple doors away to the north shouldn’t make parking any worse. You may recall, we told you about the project at 746 S. 16th St. back in 2017, telling you to expect a seven-unit building with eight parking spots. It has taken a bit longer to get out of the ground than we expected, but it seems to be moving pretty well at this point. As we said back then and as we still would argue today, this small apartment building is a terrific upgrade over what was previously office space for a contracting company. We love seeing the additional density in this neighborhood, both for this project and the upcoming one in the old fire house.

Miami-styled church at 16th & Fitzwater
View at the corner

While we’re here, we might as well point out one of our favorite churches in Philadelphia, the United House of Prayer for All People. While Philadelphia has its share of dramatic and impressive churches that date back a hundred years or more, this building is much newer and quite unique for Philadelphia. With its stucco-clad exterior and a palette mixing pink and off-white, it looks like it would fit in better in Miami than on a corner in Philadelphia. With the weather being as hot and humid as it’s been, and a tropical storm on its way, all we need are some palm trees to truly complete the picture.