The property at the southwest corner of 7th & Hoffman possesses plenty of history, having been home to a dry goods store, a women’s and children’s clothing store, and a furniture store over the years. Its recent history is of interest to us today, as it has a longstanding place in our hearts as one of the ugliest buildings in South Philly. Until 2015, the six properties at 1914-1924 S. 7th St. were stucco-covered examples of a frayed urban fabric, with the northern two properties covered in a slightly lighter color of stucco, adding insult to injury. We should mention, the properties at 1922 and 1924 S. 7th St. were renovated a few years back, leaving the northern four properties as an unfortunate landmark in an improving neighborhood.

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In the past. Woof.
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Viewed from the south, not any better

Thanks to a reader tip, we learned that these buildings are now, finally, getting renovated. Well, renovation isn’t exactly what’s happening even if that’s what it says on the permit. Developers bought the quad-wide property for just over $600K and are essentially tearing it down to the ground and replacing it with a four-story mixed-use building with 10 units on the upper floors. Since the building currently enjoys 100% lot coverage, which wouldn’t be allowed by the zoning code, the developers are quote, renovating, which will allow them to maintain the longtime non-conforming use. It’s a clever move to pick up some extra square footage which we’ve seen several times over the years, and L+I is fine with it as long as some element of the existing building sticks around. As of now, they’re still in the demolition phase.

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Current view

Like we said though, this area is very much on the way up. The Bok Building, a former school that’s now got office space and restaurants, is a major draw and has served as an anchor for this part of South Philly over the last several years. And it’s a block away from this corner. With the combination of Bok’s presence and development pressure from Pennsport to the east and East Passyunk to the west, we’ve seen numerous new homes get built around here of late, with several examples to be seen on the adjacent 600 block of Hoffman Street.

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Looking west on Hoffman St., with Bok in the distance
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Looking east of Hoffman, we see several new homes

Surely, the momentum we’re seeing in this vicinity will only be aided by the elimination of one of the neighborhood’s most glaring eyesores. From what we can see in the permit submissions, the new building will be a simple brick-clad edifice with some nice-sized windows to accommodate a retail tenant on the first floor. This building won’t be winning any awards, but it may well represent the biggest architectural upgrade we’ve seen in a very long time.