Stop us if you’ve heard this, but Frankford Avenue is a happening place these days. Remarkably, this hasn’t been the case for very long at all. When Frankford Hall opened its doors back in 2011, Frankford Avenue was littered with vacant lots and old industrial buildings which were still used for industrial purposes. Fishtown had just started a meteoric rise in terms of development, and as new neighbors moved to the neighborhood in droves, the corridor running through its gut has kept pace. It would take us too long to list the number of new buildings that have appeared and all the businesses that have opened in the last decade- and while Frankford Avenue always had immense potential, we don’t believe that many people quite expected things to go the way they did.

This makes us wonder whether the blocks of Frankford Avenue just north of Lehigh could be in store for a similar experience in the years to come. As we’ve seen in other parts of town, development leaks from one neighborhood into the next, and Port Richmond is the logical release valve for development in Fishtown, East Kensington, and Olde Richmond. As large projects have moved forward on Lehigh Avenue, it only stands to reason that more people will cross the railroad tracks and move past Lehigh, into Port Richmond proper. Already, we’ve seen some large and small projects proposed and started in the southern parts of the neighborhood, and now we’re seeing new action on Frankford Avenue as well. Perhaps a sign of things to come?

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 At 4.28.19 PM
In the past
Current view

First, let’s consider 2756 Frankford Ave., a squat building that’s been used for a variety of industrial purposes over the years, including the manufacturing of wagon bodies, the storage of building materials, and the fabrication of sets and scenery. Perhaps the building looked decent back in the day, but as recently as last year, it was looking pretty rough. It’s looking quite different these days though, as a renovation effort covered up the stucco on the facade with a colorful melange of metal panels. A karate studio now occupies a portion of the building, and we believe there’s still space for additional tenants.

Screen Shot 2020-03-04 At 4.28.40 PM
In 2018
Old building demoed, new one is certainly redder

2770 Frankford Ave. is a bit of a one step forward, two steps back situation. When an old tire business went up for sale a few years back, one might have hoped that a buyer would close the business and replace it with a new mixed-use building. In fact, when the old building was demoed last year, we were hopeful for just that to be the case. But that’s not what happened at all. Instead, the tire place has been demolished and replaced by… another tire place. A building with terrific bones has been replaced by a new building that looks like a shipping container. On the plus side, the new building looks like it was fairly inexpensive, so if and when this section of Frankford makes a leap forward, it won’t be too tough to tear it down. On the other hand, this building will be here for the foreseeable future, set back from the street and will continue to be a tire shop.

Of course, if things don’t change for awhile, maybe this kind of architecture will be deemed historic by the middle of the 21st century and the building will stick around forever. Hey, some Brutalist buildings are designated, so anything is possible.