Now that a bidder on the old West Philadelphia High School has hosted a community meeting and revealed plans to renovate the 1912 building into mixed use studio and loft apartments, we wonder what the future will bring for the vacant lot across the street on the southwest corner of 48th & Walnut.

Vacant lot

In January, 2011, fire ravaged through the Windmere Court Apartments. The structure was demolished months later. The story of the fire sparked the Philadelphia Weekly to investigate the situation.

Windmere before the fire

In two months, two years will have passed since the fire. The lot remains vacant and textured by overgrown grass. Strong Place Partners (SPP), the New York-based firm likely to win the bid for the old school, have indicated the lot could be incorporated in their plans to renovate the school. Could that mean they are poised to purchase the adjacent lot we speak of, located at 4800-24 Walnut St? According to public record, the 29,250 sqft parcel is still owned by Windmere Court 2005 LP, which acquired the site for just under $4M in 2005.

Stores across the street

Across the street, on the northwest corner of 48th and Walnut is some rundown looking retail followed by a string of row homes. We think it may be far-fetched to envision the Windmere lot being developed in the near future if not as part of the West Philly High project. With the seeming failure of the Apple Lofts development, one wonders how viable the neighborhood is when perceived through the lens of large-scale developers. Until word is confirmed that work on the Croydon has started, and after that, the sale of the old West Philadelphia High School is executed, and plans approved, we imagine this lot may attract interest, but little will happen quickly in the way of action. Unless, of course, it becomes a huge surface parking lot, which would certainly be a shame.

As usual, we’ll be watching.

–Lou Mancinelli