Like Lou Costello, Abbotts Square is Getting Denser

Abbotts Square is a gargantuan building compared to its neighbors on the eastern end of South Street. Developed in 1982 by Jack W. Blumenfeld, it carries many design markers that make its era of construction fairly evident. As we walked by the building this past weekend during Oktoberfest on South Street, we couldn't help but notice some construction signs in the parking garage 3rd floor of the building, so we decided to do some research.

Notice the Domus signs

Being naturally curious about every property in Philadelphia, especially those that are such an integral part of an old commercial corridor like this one, we decided to visit phillyhistory.org to see what the area looked like before this building existed, and we discovered this photo from 1930:

Looking west from 2nd & South in 1930. Note that the Bridget Foy's building is the same structure today.

Uh, the block certainly looks different today. 

In the recent past, we've covered the complicated turmoil which has caused a lot of vacancy on the bottom floor of this building. While some smaller commercial units have remained occupied, the larger segments have had more trouble. In 2011, we thought much of the bottom floor retail at the corner of 2nd & South might become a banquet venue of sorts. After nothing happened, we heard that Garden of Eden, a grocery chain based in New York City, was going to open up there. Nothing happened with that and apparently the chain recently declared bankruptcy. In April, we learned that a grocery store was indeed still in the works here, with Bfresh as the expected tenant. As far as we know, this is still the plan today.

In terms of the construction signs in the 3rd floor, they're for an entirely different improvement to the property. Eric Blumenfeld (yes, the son of the original developer), currently owns about half of the 162 residential units of the building as rentals, while the other half are privately owned as condos. He's planning on turning much of the 3rd floor of the building, previously used for parking, into 47 new apartment units

Just imagine that 3rd floor with windows instead of empty space

Needless to say, we're excited for this plan. Extra residents in this area will add to the vibrancy of this famed section of the city and we hope it will also add new customers for the retail downstairs and nearby. And the urbanists among us will be cheered to see that the building is becoming more dense and that this density is coming at the expense of car storage.