The other day, when we were in West Philly snapping photos of the future Good Food Flats development on Baring Street, we stumbled onto some other happenings just around the corner. We first brought the four vacant buildings on the northwest corner of Preston & Spring Garden to your attention over two years ago, noting that the buildings possessed wonderful architectural details but they were sitting empty because of a fire a few years earlier.
Given their proximity to a student housing explosion, we figured that it wouldn't be long before some or all of these buildings came back to life. One of them, 4047 Spring Garden St., was renovated shortly after our story went live. As for the rest of the buildings, we were truly hopeful that when redevelopment occurred, it would happen almost exclusively inside the properties, preserving the facades to the extent possible. Sadly, for the two properties on the corner, that ain't gonna happen.
Replacing a facade is expensive, so we can only imagine that the owners of these properties did this because they had no other choice. As we mentioned before, these buildings experienced a fire and it's possible that the heat caused such significant damage to the facades that they couldn't be saved. Fortunately, you can see 4049 Spring Garden St. has also been renovated, and those developers have maintained and seemingly restored the building's front.
About a block and a half to the south on Preston Street, another building is getting some facade work done but looking at some old pictures it was a pretty standard looking building before the work started. But that's not why we bring you to this block. Instead, we look across the street, to some new construction at 319 N. Preston St.
This project, two quadplexes, will soon rise just a few steps south of the planned Good Food Flats project. Yet another student housing project, to be sure. Regrettably, from an architectural standpoint, the buildings will look just like the boring construction we've seen on Baring Street and nothing like the lost facades on Spring Garden Street. But as we say all the time, they don't build 'em like they used to.