Big Project Coming Soon at Broad & Master?

A reader reached out to us last week with a potentially hot tip for a large parcel on North Broad Street, right near Temple’s campus. This person went past 1401 N. Broad St. earlier this month, and spied a large truck on the property that looked like it was performing geotechnical borings. As we’ve told you previously, geotech work is one of the first steps in the development process, as contractors need to determine the quality of the soil on a property to design the foundation system for a new building.

Historically, the east side of the 1400 block of N. Broad Street looked like much of the rest of N. Broad, with a mix of smaller buildings, larger buildings, a couple of churches, and a car dealership mixed in for good measure. Today, the block stretches all the way to 13th Street, but once upon a time there were two smaller blocks, Watts Street and Park Avenue, between Broad and 13th. Those blocks had dozens of homes, all of which were lost at some point, we believe in the 1970s, when the 1400 block of N. Broad became a single super block. That block is currently home to a senior housing apartment building on 13th Street, a church at Broad & Jefferson, and the Leon H. Sullivan Human Services Center.

Current view

Leon H. Sullivan Charitable Trust is named for the social rights activist and civil rights leader of the same name, and its mission is to provide social and human services for underprivileged populations. The building has office space for the trust, and also provides below market rent office space to social service agencies. The trust also has a variety of educational and economic development initiatives, and they’ve clearly made a huge difference in the community over the decades.

You’ll notice though, the building is set back rather far from Broad Street. Back when the building was constructed, roughly forty years ago, land wasn’t terribly valuable on North Broad Street and the large front lawn must have seemed like a great idea. Today, we don’t need to tell you that land has become much more valuable on North Broad Street, with a major student housing project under construction just across the street.

Crane across the street

At this point, we don’t see any permits, so we’re just spitballing in terms of what will happen here. Certainly, the trust could subdivide a portion of their property, sell it off to a developer, and receive a sizable windfall. Given the mission of the organization, an affordable housing development might be a more consistent project here, but that sort of thing wouldn’t provide the trust with the same cash infusion as a sale to a market rate developer. Alternately, they might be at capacity in their current building and wish to build an annex toward the front of the property. Anything seems possible here, or perhaps nothing at all. But please do keep an eye out and let us know if you see anything else happening at this corner. We’ll be sure to do the same.