Recent changes and a rise in residential development in Passyunk Square have inspired one owner, also a realtor, to plan to convert a ground-floor studio at 12th & Ellsworth into a bakery and coffee shop. With the nearest café four blocks away and on the other side of Washington, this could fill a need for area residents new and old.

When Paul Chin first purchased 1149 S. 12th St. around 1999, he appeared before the ZBA and received a variance to turn the former butcher shop and florist into a studio apartment. Now he wants to change the first-floor space back into its original use.

Cafe coming here soon

“It seems like there is a need,” said Chin, about why he is seeking a variance now for takeout in order to be able to sell coffee and baked goods out of the location. According to Chin, because the site is zoned CMX-1, he could open a bakery now but he would be unable to sell takeout coffee. “It was actually easier nowadays than before,” said Chin, about working through the ZBA process, He will seek a variance with support from the Passyunk Square Civic Association.

Chin appeared before the PSCA zoning committee at earlier this month with informal plans to renovate the ground-floor space in the building back into its original commercial use. That includes reclaiming a walk-in box from the 1950s he converted into a walk-in closet for the studio.

“The building was once commercial so it seems a natural fit,” said Tina Geary, a PSCA zoning member.

New homes across the street

This would be a convenient location for cinnamon buns for new residents on the northwest corner of this intersection, where two new homes were recently built. Couple that with the new homes nearby on Latona Street, plans a block away at 1235 Federal for 10 new units in the former Jehovah’s Witness building, and a new single-family home nearby at 12th & Clarion, and one can see how Mr. Chin sees a retail opportunity at this location.

–Lou Mancinelli