The northwest corner of Broad & Carpenter has been home to a McDonald’s since the early 1970s, as far as we can tell. Needless to say, much has changed about the general area and Philadelphia as a whole in the last five decades. And yet, this McDonald’s location has kept on keeping on until just this week. Kind of an amazing run, if you ask us.

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With McDonald’s closing its doors, people are asking the reasonable question of what will happen next at this site. And here’s fair warning – we don’t know, but we’re going to give it our best guess until we do. Looking at public record, we learn a couple of things. First, we see that the property has not changed hands- it’s still owned by the same group that’s owned it since the Nixon administration. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t sold or that it isn’t under agreement, since the former sometimes takes a couple months to appear on public record and the latter isn’t reported until a transaction occurs. So… maybe someone is buying the property and maybe not.

One more thing we learned from looking at old records is that the lease on the property was set to expire in April of this year. So it’s quite possible that the shuttering of the McDonald’s has nothing to do with a sale, but is instead simply a business decision for either the franchisee or the property owner.

Speaking of property owners, here’s some additional interesting information. McDonald’s is a major land owner in America, owning about half the properties occupied by McDonald’s locations around the country. But that’s not the case here, as we’ve mentioned above. But weirdly enough, McDonald’s does own the parking lot to the west of the (former) restaurant, which runs all the way to 15th Street. McDonald’s also owns a small lot to the north, while Kenny Gamble of Universal owns the large vacant lot that goes all the way to Christian Street.

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View from the south
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From Broad & Christian
Parking lot, seen from 15th & Carpenter

If someone were merely buying the McDonald’s site, they would have a roughly 17K sqft property to redevelop. This property could accommodate another quick service restaurant, a five-story mixed-use building on 100% of the lot (which would have to fulfill a 3:10 parking requirement), or townhomes, like some other projects we’ve seen of late a little further up Broad. A more exciting possibility would be if someone could put together an assemblage that includes the parking lot to the west and the Kenny Gamble lot to the north, which would result in a roughly 56K sqft site that could provide some real density and enough space to add worthwhile retail options on South Broad. Such a project would dovetail nicely with Lincoln Square to the south and the planned projects at 13th & Washington and Broad & Washington.

But let’s not get too excited or too far ahead of ourselves. All we know for now is that McDonald’s is closed. But you’ve got to figure that the other shoe will drop sometime soon- and when it does we’ll be sure to let you know right away.