What’s Up with the Mysterious Vacant Lot Next to Clark Park?

A reader asked us about the large, surprisingly vacant lot adjacent to Clark Park on Baltimore Ave., and we set out to investigate. What we found was disappointing, though not altogether surprising.

An odd lot

4224-26 Baltimore Ave. is a huge lot on the southwest corner of 43rd & Baltimore, directly to the east of Clark Park and directly to the south of Green Line Cafe. The lot covers a little less than 1.25 acres (!), and has impressive Baltimore Ave. frontage of nearly 180 linear feet. It was purchased by Clarkmorelp in 2008 for 3.5M. According to public record, Clarkmorelp is a subsidiary of Thylan Associates, based out of New York.

This 2009 article from University City Review provides some additional background. Thylan Associates and partner Campenella and Associates tore down a historically significant building at this site in 2009, despite protests from the neighborhood. According to the article, the now lost building was originally constructed by John Neil McGarvey in 1860, and was updated in 1920 by E.A. Wilson. Over the course of the building’s history, it functioned as a residence, it housed a school, and was a women’s shelter in its final decades. The large side plot had been used as a community garden. Since the 2009 demolition, the lot has sat fenced in, vacant, and unchanged.

Image from last summer
Again from last summer
Peering through the fence on 43rd St. last weekend

The lot is ripe for development, though the extremely high purchase price will probably make profitable redevelopment a challenge. Considering the community’s reaction to the proposed hotel at 40th and Pine Sts., we would imagine a proposal for a high rise building would be DOA. Or would it?

Has anyone heard anything about this parcel in recent years? Doesn’t it seem like a terrible waste? Could Penn potentially swoop in and build something worthwhile and appropriate on this site? What would neighbors want to see here?