Several readers have reached out to us over the years, wondering about the old brush factory, a group of rough looking industrial buildings at the corner of 12th & Jackson. While the sight of vacant industrial buildings is quite common in other parts of town (looking at you, Kensington), it’s definitely not the norm in this part of South Philadelphia. And with bustling Passyunk Avenue just a couple blocks to the north from here, the continued vacancy of the property feels all the more unexpected.

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View from a year ago

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you might remember that we’ve covered this property a couple times in the past. We first brought it to your attention back in 2012, after a neighbor had noticed the building getting a little repair work but nothing more. Commenters helped fill in the blanks, noting that developer Tony Rufo owned the property and had some preliminary community meetings with an eye toward redevelopment. Two years later, we told you that a plan had come together for the property for adaptive reuse, with 164 apartments, 62 parking spaces, and a doorman. But as the image above clearly illustrates, that plan didn’t move forward for quite some time.

At the end of last year, the developers finally starting moving through the permitting process for this property. We don’t see any permits for interior construction at this time, but that’s surely in the works, based on all the money that’s being invested in the exteriors of the buildings. If you pass by today (or just look at these photos), you’ll see a gaggle of new windows have been installed, with others still on the way. Needless to say, the property looks a million percent better than it has looked… maybe ever.

Current view
Looking down 12th Street
Related building, on Iseminger Street
Auto garage on Jackson Street

We have to think that once the windows are installed, the developers will get to work on the insides of the buildings, maybe with a one-year timeline to make the property habitable. Given the long stretch of inactivity between zoning approval and initial construction, we suppose it’s also possible that things could sit idle for awhile, though that seems counterintuitive. But even if that’s what ultimately happens, we have to think that neighbors would prefer a vacant property with sparkly new windows over the longtime status quo. And sooner or later, the work will happen inside and a bunch of new folks will dramatically bring these buildings back to life. If we may request sooner, that would be great.