Earlier this week, we shared the wonderful news that most of the financing had been secured for the renovation of the Divine Lorraine. Over the years, we've lamented the blighted appearance of this once beautiful building that stands so prominently on North Broad Street. Today, we look at another prominent blighted building, this time at 5th & Master in South Kensington. After decades of vacancy, there have been some small signs of activity lately at the former umbrella factory, which makes us wonder whether a renovation could be coming soon.
Way back in 2006, according to the Philadelphia Weekly, a developer came forward with a redevelopment proposal for the site. Silica Builders & Construction Management had a plan to create 141 condos in the building with a parking garage next door. They encountered considerable community opposition, echoes of which we're hearing lately in Point Breeze. In the end though, it was likely the recession, not the neighborhood, that stopped this project, as it buzzsawed so many others back then.
After the development fell through, the property was listed for sale a couple of times, first for around $8M, and most recently for just under $5M in 2011. We seem to remember it being on a couple of sheriff's sale lists back in 2012, but according to public record it's still owned by the same developers that have held it for years.
You can see from the photos, the building is in deplorable condition. Some readers who live nearby have reached out of late, wondering if anything new is happening here. Compared to images from just a couple of years ago, it seems that a few more window openings are exposed that the uppermost floors have been demolished. Unfortunately, from what we can tell looking at permits, the only recent work done on the property has been to correct violations pertaining to structural safety.
So there you go, folks. Nothing new on this property. Same owners as before, and the building is slowly crumbling. Will this building get redeveloped any time soon? It seems possible, given the growth of the surrounding neighborhood. Hopefully, it will happen really soon, not only to eliminate this hulking blight, but also to reuse the building before time and the elements make that impossible.