If you lived in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood at any point before 2018, then you’ve surely heard of the Chocolate Factory on Washington Avenue. This property, covering a whole city block at 2101 Washington Ave., was known as such because Frankford Candy, the largest marketer of licensed confections and gifts in the country, was located there for decades, before moving to the Northeast in the late 1990s or early 2000s. As the Graduate Hospital neighborhood gentrified in the years following the candy company’s move, several developers tried to redevelop the property – but nothing ever got off the ground. Over time, the rotting old industrial complex became a significant blighting presence in the neighborhood.

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Old view from 22nd & Washington

An affiliate of OCF Realty purchased the property in 2018 and demolished everything on the site. In 2020, we told you with no small level of excitement that the developers had gotten a zoning variance to build a mixed-use building on the site. The plans evolved some since then, through the building permit process and also an appeal that dragged out the start of construction by a couple years. Currently, a 247-unit project is under construction, with design work by JKRP Architects. CVS and an Aldi supermarket will fill two sizable commercial spaces on the first floor, and the basement will have gobs of parking. Construction got underway at the very tail end of 2022 and has progressed at a zippy clip. Looking at the site today, you can get a pretty solid idea of how the finished product will appear.

Current view from 22nd & Washington
Western section of the building
Eastern section of the building
View from 21st & Washington

Next up is cladding for the exterior, finish work on the apartments, and fit out for the commercial spaces. Given the current state of the building, the project will be materially complete before the end of the year. At that point, expect things to look a bit like this:

Rendering of the western side
Eastern side rendering

We don’t need to say more than we’ve already said on numerous occasions about this project or Washington Avenue as a whole. This is a game changing development that will bring density and much needed retail amenities to Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze, two neighborhoods that will benefit considerably from both density and more retail. This approach should be repeated across the entire corridor, which has outlived its usefulness as a light industrial / building supply corridor. Alas, until zoning on the corridor gets remapped, we will continue to see projects trickle down the pike as one-offs, to the detriment of everyone to the north and south.

Looking west on the 2100 block of Kimball

One more thing that we should mention, and that’s the 40 new townhomes immediately to the north of this project, developed by another OCF affiliate. 33 of those homes are either sold or under agreement, with the remaining homes currently listed for sale for $1.2M. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 287 new residential units, 1 supermarket, and 1 pharmacy collectively replacing a blighted collection of industrial buildings. Yeah, we’re biased, but it’s hard to see how anyone could consider these projects to be anything but a huge upgrade for the area. Let’s wash, rinse, and repeat down the block, shall we?

Disclaimer: OCF Realty is the parent company of Naked Philly.