Philadelphia Carriage Company operated horse-drawn carriage rides for many years, offering tours of Old City to locals and tourists alike. A few years back, the company closed down in the wake of revelations that they were not treating their horses in a humane fashion, with too-small pens, poor ventilation, and nonexistent turnout space. With the business closed and the horses relocated to an animal sanctuary, we brought the former home of this business to your attention, noting that 500-506 N. 13th St. could represent an attractive development opportunity.

A few years ago

At the time, we noted that the property had some advantages to it, notably the location, the size at around 6,500 sqft, and CMX-4 zoning, which allows for plenty of height and density. We also mentioned the history of the buildings, pointing out the ghost sign for John Evans’ Sons Inc., a spring manufacturer that operated here before moving to Lansdale in the 1960s. We wondered whether a historic nomination might gum up the works for potential redevelopment, or at least might reduce a potential sale price.

We weren’t alone in seeing the property as a development opportunity, and it traded in 2018 for just under $2M. Interestingly, it appears that the building didn’t end up on the local historic register, but the development group currently working on the property is nevertheless planning to retain the existing facades in their redevelopment plan. The plan originally called for an addition on top of the existing buildings, with 12 apartments and office space filling the rest of the property. The developers wanted to alter this plan to eliminate the office space and increase the unit count to 23, but that triggered a refusal and they need to get a variance from the ZBA to pursue this plan. We don’t see why the variance wouldn’t be granted, but you can never be sure of such things.

Current view
From the north

Here’s a rendering of the proposed addition to the site, from CANNOdesign. Needless to say, this combination of old and new will be vastly superior in terms of architectural interest, compared to a theoretical demolition and new construction approach.

2019-0801 - Sharrow - Buttonwood - Rendering - 90percent Opacity
Project rendering

With this project moving forward, likely in the near future, we turn a hopeful eye to the southwestern corner of this intersection.

Lot across the street

This parking lot, which measures almost 30K sqft, is associated with the charter school next door. But it’s a sizable piece in a good location with favorable zoning – perhaps someone could enter into a land-lease situation with the school to build apartments on top of the school lot? Just spitballing here, as this would be a great site for something and we need not remind you our feelings about surface parking lots.