We started our day this morning with an unexpected pleasure in the car – a shiny little light on the dashboard with an exclamation point inside of what looks like the letter U. That light, on the off chance you’ve never seen it, is a sign of low tire pressure, also known as an occupational hazard in our line of work. Drive out to enough construction sites and you’re eventually gonna pick up a nail or three. In case you’re wondering, our typical go-to tire repair/replacement spot is the Pep Boys that’s located on the southeast corner of Broad & Federal.

Current view
Straight on view from Broad Street

This business has been located here since 2009. A Midas operated here before the Pep Boys, and the property has been used for a few other auto-centric uses, like a gas station and a used car lot, dating back to the 1940s. After doing some digging, we learned that a church was located here before those other businesses, with the Holland Memorial Presbyterian Church standing at this location from 1893 to 1942. The church, which you can learn all about in this book from 1899, was a gorgeous edifice that was torn down long before there were historic districts or historically designated properties in this town. And it’s a shame, this building was awesome.

Screenshot 2023-07-18 At 11.05.18 AM
View of the corner in 1931

But we digress. Back to Pep Boys. A reader gave us a shout recently, noting that the parking lot in front of Pep Boys was totally empty. This reader was curious to know whether they were closing up shop, and asked us whether we’d heard any buzz about the property. Alas, we haven’t. But if the Pep Boys is indeed on the way out, we would imagine an enthusiastic response from the real estate community at the prospect of purchasing and redeveloping this 20K sqft property. The biggest drawback here is the CMX-2 zoning, which limits the height to 38′ and the density to 41 units. Add in some zoning bonuses and you can get to 45′ and 76 units, but that still feels too small for the location. Remember, a six-story apartment building went up just a few doors to the south less than a decade ago and another six-story building was built more recently at Broad & Annin, so we’d want to see something here at a similar size or larger.

Just down the street

Alas, we heard back from our reader that the Pep Boys is merely slow this time of year, and isn’t going anywhere. So this is all idle speculation about a property that doesn’t seem likely to trade any time soon. Still, that lease will eventually end, at which point the owners will surely find a market for the property for potential redevelopment. Perhaps by that time, the property will be remapped to allow for appropriate redevelopment, as the property’s value will be depressed by the added risk of a needed zoning variance to move forward with a building that’s more that four stories tall. Oh, and we’d have to think that nearly a century of automotive uses will probably necessitate some environmental cleanup, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. For now, we’ll be heading over to Pep Boys and praying for a patch – we really don’t feel like buying any new tires this week.