If you went to Temple, or if you’ve spent some time in the neighborhood near the university, perhaps you’ve noticed Al’s Classic Cars at some point. Al’s is located at 1333 N. 17th St., on a block that’s most notable for its largely vacant western side. If you’re into classic cars, perhaps you might think to pay a visit to Al’s to see what they have in stock, with an eye toward making a purchase.

Al's Classic Cars
Screen Shot 2018-01-22 At 3.12.01 PM
View on Google Maps, from a sunnier day

But you’d be barking up the wrong tree! We called Al’s to get a sense of what’s currently for sale, and were surprised to learn that they just collect cars, they don’t sell them. This sounds like a terrible business model. Basing on our very brief conversation, it seems this “business” is just a place for Al to store his classic cars, with signage that’s ostensibly an advertisement for anyone looking to sell their classic car to Al. This doesn’t make even the slightest bit of sense to us, but what do we know. And after all, needs to store his cars someplace, and why not on the 1300 block of North 17th Street?

Student housing planned next door

Speaking of places for Al to store his cars, there’s a large vacant lot immediately to the south of Al’s, which has been used over the years for classic car parking. We simply assumed that the parking area was associated with the classic car dealership, but we were as wrong about that as we were about Al’s being a dealership. The lots were owned for years by a City agency, and were sold off to a developer for $120K at the end of 2015. Looking at some old VPRC minutes, it appears that the developer that bought these properties did so with the intention of using them as parking for a senior housing facility across the street.

We won’t speculate as to why this happened, but we know that the developer flipped the lots to a different developer last summer for a total of $410K. The new owner is planning to redevelop the land into an eight-unit building with eight parking spaces, a project that we have to think will target students, like so many other developments in this area. That project was continued at the ZBA earlier this month, but it seems likely that it will eventually get approved. Oh well, ho hum to more student housing in the neighborhood. And a massive oh no to the City of Philadelphia, which sold off this land and saw a developer flip it for a nearly $300K profit in less than 18 months.