The corner of 3rd & Chesnut in Old City is about as Old City-ish as Old City can get. To the south are the First Bank of the United States and the Museum of the American Revolution, but the view looking north on 3rd is emblematic of the charm, scale, and architectural variety that have made the neighborhood a draw since the late 18th century. Coincidentally enough, there are properties on either side of the street that are both eyeing similar future redevelopment. Let’s draw our eyes up the block to see what’s happening.

Looking north from the corner of 3rd & Chestnut, a quintessential Old City vista

We start first on the NW corner, where 301 Chestnut St. will soon be home to a 15-room boutique hotel according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. High-end lodging would make up floors two through four, while a bar would grace the ground floor. This concept is brought to us by the founders of United By Blue, who sadly closed their flagship coffee shop/retail store on the northern end of the neighborhood several months back. We actually brought you here back in 2011, when the Society Hill Hotel was shifting to make way for the now-defunct Monkey Bar. Permits have already been issued and work was full steam ahead when we checked out the action. Plans call for a 2024 opening, so we can’t wait to see this prime corner spot reactivated and spruced up.

A look at 301 Chesnut St. today, soon to be a fancy new hotel
A closer look at the ground level, definitely in need of a refresh
Framing and electrical work appear to be underway on the interiors

Just across 3rd and steps to the north is 45 S. 3rd St., which has been seemingly on the verge of something for years. This interesting building always caught our eye, as the prominent “45”s across the facade were of a font seemingly from a separate time as the building itself. But thanks to a zoning permit that was issued this week, we now know that a first-floor hair salon will sit below two second-floor hotel rooms. Progress here looks closer to completion than its neighbor across the way, as it looked like the finishing touches were being added to this long-empty Old City structure. And if the owners are still brainstorming names, may we suggest Brimful of Asha on South 45? Just don’t ask about the pillows.

A look at 45 S. 3rd St., soon to be a salon and hotel rooms
Cleaning up what we assume is one of the hotel rooms on the second floor
A closer look at the salon's future space

Now that we’ve sufficiently dated ourselves with mid-Nineties radio rock references, we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch upon the other properties that sit on this corner. A fire back in 2018 was so bad that it has its own news page and sadly destroyed one building and dramatically impacted the two next door.

The empty SE corner of the intersection

In what turned out to be a case of arson, the fire led to the demolition of one historic building and the closing of what was a thriving restaurant at the Little Lion two buildings down at a spot we visited also back in 2011. All three properties now sit empty and awaiting the next steps in their journey.

The former Little Lion, sadly closed for years
The empty storefronts at the building next door
Still an empty hole in the ground over five years later

It’s kind of a travesty to have these properties continue to sit empty, especially given everything happening in the immediate area. And if you want to get newly annoyed, don’t forget about plans from 2019 for a seven-story, six-condo, mixed-use project that was nixed by the Historical Commission before it could even become a pipe dream. Sadly these plans from KJO Architecture never happened, and the area is frankly worse off because of it.

The handsome, modern take on the vernacular, sadly never to be

Let’s place on those rose-colored glasses now: how amazing will this corner be once these properties are finally brought back to life? With the lovely Forsythia steps away (and personal favorite Khyber Pass Pub just around the corner, too), we dream of a bustling corner that fulfills all of its incredible potential.