Parkside is one of our favorite neighborhoods in the entire city, with its proximity to West Fairmount Park creating a grand feeling as you see the tree-covered park across the main strip. And don’t get us started on the terrific architecture. Despite projects proposed for some sites around the neighborhood over the last couple of years, this area still has plenty of empty lots waiting to be utilized for their highest and best use. One such property is at 4862-70 Parkside Ave., at the corner of 49th & Parkside, where a nondescript lot next to some historic rowhomes is about to make a big change for the better. You’d be forgiven if you missed this property in the past, as the one-story building that has stood on site was previously a Septa drivers’ restroom facility.

A more recent aerial shows the site with shipping containers waiting to be brought to life
Current view of the progress so far at the corner of 49th & Parkside

But as we said, things are changing here, and in a very exciting way. Zoning permits were issued this week to move forward with the construction of a new small business hub to take the place of this surface lot. Plans call for a shipping container village, which will host local businesses and create a center for the community to gather and for small business owners to exchange ideas and sell their wares in a unique and awesome setting.

These repurposed shipping containers will have a slick look that reminds us of the indoor usage at Cherry Street Pier. The new facility will feature 22 spaces for “early stage small businesses”, a refurbished restroom, a raised stage, and other landscaping and design features to bring the space to life. We checked out the site and it appears that some preliminary work has been completed, with paint and other finishes added to the containers; lighting and hardscaping are also underway. The rendering below of the 4th District Container Village gives us an idea of what we can expect in the near future for this city-managed project taking place on city-owned land.

Another look at the Village, already in progress
A closer look at the individual containers, looking pretty snazzy
A look at the corner of 49th & Parkside

Seeing a project like this pop up added some pep to our step after the malaise we’ve been feeling since Sunday night. Not only does this create a new business district at an underutilized spot, it creates a new community hub along the park where there would have otherwise been a void. And to have a streamlined, modern design with seating, lighting and landscaping available to both residents and businesses, this could soon become a new pillar of the neighborhood and create an active, exciting place for people to enjoy. Hopefully we will continue to see creative uses of space across the city like this, as this shows that a massive construction project isn’t always needed to create something special.