Taken literally, the name Dirt Factory sounds like the place where Miracle-Gro makes their soil. And perhaps with a lower-case ‘d’ and a lower case ‘f,’ that would indeed be the case. Alternately, it could have been the name of a punk band in the 1970s, and it’s quite possible it was, but they were too small to be remembered by Wikipedia. As far as Philadelphia is concerned though, Dirt Factory is a community composting facility on the 4300 block of Market Street that provides neighbors with a place to turn their organic trash into fertilizing treasure. Well, it was all that, except now it’s closed down until it can find a new home.

Former Dirt Factory

The lots at 4308 and 4310 Market St. were listed for sale last month, each for $225K. Also owned by the same party and listed for sale was 4306 Market St., a triplex that’s in pretty lousy condition. All of those listings are temporarily down for the moment, perhaps because a buyer has stepped forward, or maybe for some other reason. Assuming the properties eventually change hands, it’s possible we’ll see a renovation to the existing building and the construction of a couple of standalone structures next door, and it’s also possible the existing building will get torn down and replaced by a new building that spans all three properties. The latter move would seem like the more profitable approach, without digging too deeply into the numbers.

One reason we don’t feel like we have to plumb the depths on the issue is the upcoming plan to build an apartment building right next door. Someone posted an agenda for this month’s West Powelton / Sauders Park RCO meeting on the Urban PHL Facebook page the other day, which first brought the project to our attention. The developer, who used to own and operate a food truck on Penn’s Campus, bought the former used car lot at 4312-20 Market St. last year, paying a rather reasonable $600K for the parcel. He’s now looking to build a 42-unit apartment building with no parking. Refusals include open area, gross floor area, and no parking for a project that would ordinarily require 13 spaces.

Looking west
Looking east

We see this as a pretty reasonable project for a property that’s almost 10K sqft in size and sits on the edge of a college campus. As the building will surely target a student population, we don’t see why any parking should be required, not to mention the fact that two different El stops are three blocks in either direction. Maybe someone that lives in the area could provide us with a little context on how the project will likely be received by the community, but as far as we can tell a small apartment building represents a great upgrade over a used car lot at this location.

Dunkin Donuts and Subway across the street

We’d say the same for the large parcel across the street, due to our distaste for both Dunkin Donuts and surface parking lots. Ah, maybe someday.