The corner of 18th & Delancey is pretty much as prime a location as you’ll find in the whole city. It’s a block from Rittenhouse Square, some of the best restaurants in town are a stone’s throw away, and it’s surrounded by gorgeous examples of Philadelphia architecture. And yet, the building at 325 S. 18th St., on the southeast corner, has been sitting vacant and blighted for longer than we can remember. It’s still sitting vacant today, but perhaps not for much longer.
We first covered this property way back in 2011, wondering how this property came to find itself in this condition. We’ve provided several updates over they years, most recently checking in back in 2017. At that time, we provided an update after a near neighbor filed an Act 135 action the year prior. These actions tend to get tied up in litigation, but shortly before our story, the court had just appointed a conservator and we were hopeful that we’d see progress at the property as a result. And to be clear, we did indeed see some progress here over the years. A new roof appeared on the building, and the conservators braced some crumbling walls and repaired and replaced the slate shingles on the mansard. It still doesn’t remotely look like it did back in the day, but at least it’s not actively at risk of collapse.
Sometimes conservators completely renovate a property and then sell it, but these conservators instead opted to stabilize the building and then put it on the market. The property is now under contract with a new developer, and a sale could close in the coming months. It’s also possible, given the litigious nature of things to date, that the sale process could get dragged out for an extended time as the sale winds its way through the courts. That being said, local courts have approved the sale, and if no additional appeals materialize, we could see a sale pretty soon.
In the interim, the developers are working to get their permits in order. Pace Architecture and Design is working on the construction documents, and have created some renderings to provide a sense of what’s to come. The Historical Commission will need to weigh in, of course, but we imagine they will get on board with something that resembles these renderings, which seem to maintain a good approximation of the historic structure. The plans, we should note, call for a renovation of the building into a luxury home with parking in the back. The renovations will certainly cost a small fortune, and the completed home will eventually cost a slightly larger fortune.
We’ve been eyeing this property for almost two decades at this point, and it’s encouraging to learn that it could finally be turning a corner in the near future. It’s regrettable that it has remained in this diminished state for so many years, and we’ll be gratified to watch as it makes a return to form. We’ll keep an eye on the court proceedings and the permitting process, and will likely make a return visit once work actually gets started. Here’s to hoping it’s sometime before the end of 2022.
Disclosure: The buyer for this property is an affiliate of OCF Realty, the parent company of Naked Philly.