Because our office is on Washington Avenue, we have the pleasure of seeing the Frankford Chocolate Factory just about every day. This building, located at 2101 Washington Ave., has been sitting vacant since Frankford Candy’s last chocolate rabbit came off the line over a decade ago. A few different development plans came come and gone in the intervening years. Developer Tran Dinh Truong came up with a redevelopment plan in 2009 which got denied by the ZBA. Another effort to redevelop the property, this time in cooperation with architects Campbell Thomas, got approval in 2012. But Truong passed away only a couple months later, and the project didn’t move forward without him.
A court order liquidation Truong’s assets put the property on the market back in 2014, and by the end of 2015, new owners had stepped in, paying $8.5M for the property. But earlier this year, we noted that the building was still sitting vacant, and that signs had been posted to the facade, apprising firefighters of the fact. The following image is from back then, but it’s still an accurate depiction of what’s going on there. And that’s to say, nothing.
But wait, it’s possible that change could finally be coming to this property. Tonight, there’s a community meeting scheduled at which the owners and their development partners, U3 Ventures, will meet with neighbors. At this meeting, according to press from SOSNA, the owners will have a discussion about the site and take feedback from the community on what they want to see here. That’s kind of all we’ve got at this point, so we don’t know whether the plans will involve renovation, demolition, residential, commercial, or laser tag. We should have much better information to share after tonight’s meeting.
Before you start popping off streamers with excitement that this property will finally get redeveloped, we want to urge a measured reaction to this news. You may remember, U3 Ventures worked with a developer to take a project at 43rd & Baltimore through the community process, taking a very similar inclusive approach. Despite that project getting approval over two years ago, nothing has happened yet at that site. We have no idea what’s going on over there, but it’s a cautionary tale for people to keep in mind as this property begins moving through the early stages of the development process.
The community meeting will take place tonight at the Saint Charles Senior Center at 1941 Christian St., at 6pm.