900 Spring Garden St. is a vacant lot that’s been sitting empty since the Carter administration at least, though it was home to a quartet of billboards until just a couple years ago. There were six small buildings on this lot historically, despite its relatively small size, measuring about 3,300 sqft. It made sense that there was such significant density here back in the day, as there was once a bustling train station across the street.
About four years ago, there was a plan that was making the rounds for this property which called for a six-story building with retail on the first floor and 30 apartments upstairs. That project was introduced to go to the ZBA, but the plans were ultimately withdrawn, and aside from the removal of the billboards, the site has continued to sit vacant. But maybe not for long. About a week ago, we noticed a new permit for the property, this time with a by-right effort. Like the previous application, this plan calls for a six-story building, but given the property’s zoning designation, the by-right density is limited by the amount of on-site parking provided. As a result, the new plan calls for only 18 units, a handful of parking spots, and a small commercial space. With a by-right permit in hand, we expect this project will finally move forward sometime next year.
Across the street, it’s a bit of a different story. Back in April, we told you that the aforementioned Spring Garden Station was facing the threat of demolition. Remember, the Reading Railroad operated the trains that ran through this station, and a descendant entity of the railroad company still owns the old viaduct. That company also owns the train station and got the idea to tear it down, probably because it was rotting after decades of vacancy. Arts + Crafts Holdings partnered with Scioli Turco to use Act 135 to try to prevent the demolition of the building, but it appears they were unsuccessful, as the train station came down over the last several months. Regrettably, we don’t imagine that the property owner has any plans whatsoever for the site, so a future sale is probably the best we can hope for. Figure if and when that happens, whatever building ultimately rises here won’t compare to the building we lost this year.