In late May, we told you about a cool People’s Emergency Center (PEC) project to transform the historic and appealing Hawthorne Hall along the 3800 block of Lancaster Avenue into a space featuring a second-floor theatre and ground-floor restaurant. Through the spring, Rabid Hands, a gypsy art troupe, was housed in the old building as they prepared for their Hidden City festival act, The Society of Pythagoras, which was hosted at Hawthorne Hall through June 30th.

Looking toward Hawthorne Hall

Just a few doors to the east along Hamilton Street, work is progressing on a triple-wide mixed-use building at 3835 Hamilton St., site of an ugly warehouse until very recently. This warehouse was demolished to make room for the new construction, and it will probably not be missed.

In the past

Current view

According to the OPA, University Realty acquired the the property in August, 2012 for $300K. And while permits on the L&I Map don’t tell the whole story, a listing for one of the apartments in the building filled in some of the blanks. When the building is complete, it will have twelve furnishes (!) apartments with high-end finishes and underground parking. Not bad for undergrad living.

Closer look. Building will look better than the warehouse but will pale in comparison to surrounding homes

The 3800 block of Lancaster is a block that should be transformed over the next few years. Across the street at Saunders & Lancaster is a new three-story triplex that’s been framed out since we first wrote about Hawthorne Hall in late May. With PEC’s plans for to spend about $4M at Hawthorne Hall at 3849 Lancaster Ave., as well as 3859-61 Lancaster Ave., one can begin to see the growing scope of improvements to this block. We are guessing the next year will only mean more projects. As rents rise along Baltimore Avenue, you may see artists and others seeking those classic low West Philly rents seeking new neighborhoods. But with investments like these coming down the pike, they may have to look beyond Lancaster Avenue.

–Lou Mancinelli