New Bank on 38th Street Should Have Been Much More

Two summers past, we were jonesing for a Slurpee while in West Philly, and visited the 7-11 at 38th & Chestnut with frozen satisfaction in mind. Alas, when we got to the convenience store, we were shocked to see it closed forever, wondering aloud when we'd ever seen a 7-11 close its doors. We shrugged, moved on with life, and expected we'd eventually hear about some major mixed-use project for the parcel, considering its location in the middle of Penn's campus. Time passed, and we revisted this corner again this past summer, sharing the surprising news that the building was simply getting renovated into a Santander bank branch. That effort is now complete.

New bank on 38th Street

As we said previously, this seems like a missed opportunity. As several commenters noted, this property could have been redeveloped into a 50K sqft building by right, and with variances could have risen high into the sky, joining the collection of buildings under construction or recently completed nearby. Across the street, the 3737 Chestnut Tower will have 276 apartments over 25 stories when it's finished. A block to the north, 3737 Market is an 11-story mixed-use building with office space, medical uses, and ground-floor retail. And moving further north still, Presbyterian is moving along with their Advanced Care Pavilion.

Large building under construction at 38th & Chestnut

Advanced Care Pavilion a little farther up 38th Street

Wouldn't that bank branch look much better with a couple hundred apartments above? Or some offices? Or anything? Instead, we're stuck with a low-rise, standalone bank branch with a bunch of associated surface parking spots. All the real estate kids at Wharton are surely wincing every time they walk past.