The 12K+ sqft property at 29-31 N. 19th St. has a funny shape, strongly resembling a thumbs up. The thumb, in this case, is a small amount of frontage on 19th Street, while the fist is a larger space on Ludlow Street. Until roughly six years ago, there was a small building on 19th Street that was the storefront for a Hertz car rental business, and there was a small parking garage on Ludlow Street, used for storing rental cars. We were excited several years back and hopeful for an exciting project when we learned that all the buildings on the lot had been demolished. Then we realized that Parkway Corporation owned the property, and were planning a surface parking lot. Bummer.

At the time, we noted that Parkway was most famous for being one of the largest parking lot operators in town, but mentioned that they also are active as developers. So we were thinking that perhaps the parking lot would merely be a placeholder until a project came around- when your core competency is parking lots, patience comes very easily. As luck would have it, we were correct. Just today, we learned that this property will soon get redeveloped. As you can see, it’s no longer being used as a parking lot.

View on 19th Street
View on Ludlow Street

Philly Chit Chat picked up a thread from Philadelphia Speaks (still a thing in the age of neighborhood groups on Facebook!) which linked to an article from Commercial Observer that shared the news that a Pod Hotel is planned for this location. The Pod model is to provide hotel rooms that are roughly a third the size of regular hotel rooms for, let’s say, 75% of the price. If you’re into the minimalist lifestyle and don’t mind very close quarters, it’s a great approach that will save you a couple of bucks on accommodations. We stayed in a Pod hotel a few years back in NYC and found it a little unsettling that a person in the bed could easily hold hands with someone using the bathroom. In theory, at least.

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An 11-story hotel with 252 rooms will certainly be a game changer for the 1800 block of Ludlow, which has something of a seedy reputation. We don’t know whether any massage parlors are still active on the block, but if so, it’s possible that the construction of a new hotel will be the end of the line for those places. Or maybe it’ll be a boon for business, who knows.

Looking east on Ludlow

One thing is for sure, that a new hotel is a massive upgrade over a surface parking lot. Then again, we’ve been fairly consistent in our perspective that just about anything is better than a surface parking lot. Still, this hotel will fill a niche in Philadelphia, and ostensibly make it a little more affordable for people to come visit from out of town. And if they’re spending a little less money on a hotel room, maybe they’ll spend a little more money in shops and restaurants in the area.