You’d be forgiven if you forgot about the big plans for the former pallet palace at 1700 Germantown Ave., on the triangular parcel bounded by 5th St. to the west, Germantown Ave. to the northeast, and Cecil B. Moore Ave. to the south. A multi-building project was pitched for the site years ago, adding apartments and – surprisingly – office and lab space. However, there had been little happening on site since then, save for the dog park/graffiti spot that went in back in the Summer 2018. Let’s take to the skies to remind ourselves of what we’re working with for this art-lined property.

The view today of the art-covered walls at Germantown & Cecil B. Moore

While channeling our inner Nelly Furtado is always fun, checking out a site on foot is our preferred method. And we’re thankful we did so, as our visit showed us something we didn’t expect: major excavation work on site. Past plans from Flow Development called for an eight- and seven-story pair to rise on site, with nearly 40K sqft of office/lab space to go with underground parking and 138 apartments. However, updated info on the project indicates that this has been downsized, with two six-story buildings now planned. A total of 42 underground parking spots will serve the project’s 92 units, which has seen the commercial space reduced to 26K, with a retail spot below what will be Flow’s future office. The design has also shifted a bit, though it still brings a bold, contemporary look, courtesy of a mystery architect.

The view of the construction today at the south side of the site
The larger, older plans seemingly on the back-burner
A new look and a new size for the adjusted project
The view from Germantown Ave. shows major digging in progress
New rendering shows only one building, with a lawn where the second building would rise
A hold out on the block, 1719-23 N. 5th St. is for lease
A rendering shows how the new building would interact with existing neighbor
An interior rendering of the proposed office space
A bamboo gateway to the outdoor area

We don’t see any new permits with details on what’s happening, save for a zoning permit that subdivided the property in Fall 2019. That said, it sure seems as if work is about to start in earnest, as the site was buzzing when we went by. Interestingly, it wasn’t just this property that was buzzing, but the adjacent dog park/graffiti spot we mentioned earlier as well. It appeared that the outside of the site was receiving a bit of landscaping love, as the property currently looks overgrown and unused compared to its manicured past.

North - Park
Looking north towards the park, sadly overgrown

Formerly community space Sunflower Philly, a gathering place for gardening and the arts, the site was sold last spring, with plans to eventually develop the property with a residential focus. With the actual grounds of the property looking like crap today, we can only assume the busy-ness we saw here with pruning was to avoid any dings from the City for an overgrown site and not for a glorious return of the garden. As such, the future is still a mystery here – perhaps we’ll ponder what could be across the street at Human Robot over a milk tube or two as we scope out how things proceed.