From Pretzels to Suds on Federal Street

Heraclitus got it right when he said that the only constant is change. In Center City, we see change all the time. Buildings rise and fall, businesses come and go, people are constantly hustling from one place to another. In some parts of South Philly, change generally comes more slowly, with lots of businesses operating for decades and some families inhabiting the same home for generations. Quick changes can meet opposition, like the addition of a green space at the Guerin Rec Center. But change does happen! Take, for example, the former Federal Pretzel Baking Company at 636 Federal St., which has been vacant since a fire closed the long-operating business several years ago.

The old Federal Pretzel Baking Co.

We lived nearby quite some time ago and really appreciated that we could choose between this place and Center City Pretzel on Washington Avenue to settle things down after a night of heavy drinking. After the fire, the neighborhood made it work with just one late-night pretzel bakery but the building on Federal Street remained vacant. We checked in on this property a couple years back, noting that it had changed hands a few times since the fire and that the building, including an office space on 7th Street, was available for rent for $3,000/mo.

View on 7th Street, wonderful sign

Wouldn't you know, the property changed hands again earlier this year. In March, B&D Property LLC bought the property, which also includes a parcel on Manton Street. And finally, after years of vacancy and changing ownership, it looks like something is happening here. According to permits, a laundromat will be opening in part of the building on Federal Street, with room for another business next door. Plans also call for the demolition of the building on 7th Street and the construction of two single-family homes in its place. Finally, the developers are also building a duplex on Manton Street.

So yeah, it's taken many years but this property looks like it will finally spring back to life. A laundromat isn't an exciting business by any means but it provides an important service. And two homes and two apartments seem like a better use than office space and a mostly vacant lot in this residential neighborhood. We admit though, we'll miss the old sign on 7th Street, they just don't make 'em like that anymore.