The southern section of the West Poplar neighborhood has undergone major changes over the last several years, with a mix of larger projects, like the Spring Arts Point development, and plenty of smaller, one-off infill. New construction has generally dried up in this neighborhood beyond Fairmount Avenue, mostly because the Richard Allen PHA homes run from 9th to 13th Streets, beginning at Fairmount. Further, the fact that the Divine Lorraine was sitting vacant and blighted for so many years at Broad & Fairmount likely depressed development on surrounding blocks to the north and south.
You may have heard, the Divine Lorraine has come back to life, a labor of love from EB Realty. With this building now looking all shiny and new, it stands to reason that developers will look to long ignored properties on blocks nearby. So it should come as no surprise whatsoever that there’s something brewing at 1357 Ridge Ave., a parcel that was, until a couple years ago, home to the Laborers District Council Pension Fund. That building went away in 2016, and the new owners are working on a mixed-use building in its place.
The new building will rise 6 stories, and will include retail on the first floor and 50 apartments on the upper floors. Canno Design did the architecture work for the project, and you can see from the elevation drawing posted at the site that the building will have a very industrial look to it. This doesn’t necessarily fit in with the immediately surrounding architecture, but it makes quite a bit of sense if you zoom out a little bit and consider some of the buildings around the corner on North Broad Street. Then again, it’s not like there are so many other buildings on this block anyway, so we’re not sure that context matters a whole heck of a lot.
This project makes sense at this time and at this location, which means that additional development could and should follow. There are several vacant lots nearby, with the most prominent being 1300 Fairmount Ave., a roughly two-acre parcel behind the Divine Lorraine. We told you about plans for a supermarket and nearly 500 apartments for this property a few years back, but we haven’t seen any progress on the site. At the end of last year, New York based RAL Companies finally closed on the property, paying $8M, which could be an indication that something will finally move forward here in the near future. With the Divine Lorraine finally reactivated, it seems like anything is possible in this section of town.