We’ve long considered the stretch of Grays Ferry Avenue between Washington Avenue and 34th Street to be a significant untapped resource. Extending for just over half a mile, it’s home to several large but underused properties, many of which would make for terrific multi-family development sites. The Grays Ferry neighborhood is proximate to both downtown Philadelphia and University City, and the eponymous corridor in the neighborhood is home to some of the most attractive real estate in the area.

We’ve written about several interesting parcels on the corridor as the years have rolled along, and some of those properties have projects progressing that provide some perspective into the push-pull at the present time. First, let’s look at a pair of apartment buildings which have moved well since our last visit, in the summer of 2021. At 2731 Federal St., developers are making good progress on a six-unit triangular building with a retail space on the first floor. Across the street, we see another project, this time with 24 units and no commercial, perhaps a few months behind its neighbor. The former replaces a vacant lot and a billboard, and the latter replaces a one-story industrial building, so both represent huge upgrades.

Both of the aforementioned projects are indeed terrific news, adding 30 new units to an area that has so much room to grow. Looking at the other side of the ledger, we can turn our attention to 3114 Grays Ferry Ave., where another one-story industrial building was demoed earlier this year. Sadly, its replacement is probably a step backward compared to what was demoed, as a storage facility will soon rise here. We first told you about the project a little over a year ago, and you can see that construction is underway. We were bummed about the project back then and we’re still bummed today.

New McDonald's is an upgrade

We are perhaps a bit more ambivalent about what recently happened at 3000 Grays Ferry Ave., where a long vacant commercial space has come back into active use. You may or may not recall, Bottom Dollar built a new location at this address back in 2014, directly across the street from a long established supermarket. The Bottom Dollar didn’t even last a year, with the company’s bankruptcy probably representing a larger issue than the lousy location. We wondered about the building back in 2015, hoping for its demolition in favor of mixed-use development or, even better, its conversion into a laser tag spot. Alas, the building sat empty for all these years, finally getting rented out by GoPuff at some point in the last few months. So while it’s nice that this building isn’t sitting empty anymore, a few hundred apartments would have been way nicer. And of course, laser tag would have been the greatest. So it goes.

Finally, let’s talk about McDonald’s. Several readers reached out to us a few months back when the McDonald’s in the Grays Ferry Shopping Center got demoed. As we communicated to those folks back then, this was simply a situation where McDonald’s demorf an old and worn out space, with plans to build a new and shiny location in its place. And that’s what they did, with astonishing speed. Seriously the whole thing probably took three months, making it perhaps the fastest construction we have ever seen for a project of any kind. Someone hire this crew for government work!

Most importantly, we are pleased to report, first hand, that the new McDonald’s location is home to a functioning soft serve machine. Sure, it’s ridiculously cold outside right now, but sometimes, even on the coldest days, an ice cream cone from McDonald’s just hits the spot. Surely, all the folks moving into apartments, utilizing the storage facility, or working at GoPuff will deeply appreciate this crucial neighborhood amenity, at least for as long as that soft serve machine remains in good working order.