North Broad to Get Its Own Flatiron-ish Building Near the Divine Lorraine

We’ve seen a trend of Flatiron-style buildings popping up in the last couple years, with a project now complete in Queen Village and another currently under construction in Fishtown. As is the case with the actual Flatiron building, these buildings have unique wedge-shaped designs thanks to diagonal streets that slice across the orderly grid that we all know and love. These buildings are some of our favorites, as they add architectural variety and interest, embracing the weirdness of their unusually shaped lots. After browsing through some zoning reports today (as one does), we discovered something especially interesting when it comes to the subject of oddly shaped parcels – that another flatiron-style building is on the way at 689-95 N. Broad St. at the intersection of Broad Street and our diagonal friend Ridge Avenue, immediately south of the Divine Lorraine.

The Petit Coin at 5th And E. Passyunk
Fishtown Flatiron going up at the Fishtown Roundabout

Formerly Abat’s Auto Tag Service, an auto-centric use once made sense for this building, but it made a pivot from Chryslers to cheesesteaks in 2013. Jimmy G’s Cheesesteak then joined the mix, but for reasons that you might not expect. A passion for cheesesteaks didn’t drive this venture, but it was instead a drive to keep a competitor of their check cashing business out of the neighborhood. Despite this less-than-inspirational origin story, it was impossible to miss Jimmy G’s, with their bright red and white signage. Sadly, or perhaps not so sadly for someone in the check cashing business, Jimmy G’s closed last summer and the building went up for sale.

Former Septa Substation looking regal at the corner in 1924 with City Hall in the distance
Abat’s Auto Tag Service looking lonely in August 2012
Jimmy G’s a few years back, before the apartments appeared across the street

But now we see that something brand new is coming to this parcel. After previous plans called for an addition to the existing building, it seems the developers have made a dramatic change in their approach. What will rise now is a five story, 17,680 sqft mixed-use building, with 20 residential units over 1,800 sqft of ground floor commercial space. The McDermott Building, as it will be called, will sport a roof deck and bicycle parking and will be brought to you by some familiar faces in the Philly flatiron family. Philly Capital Group is the developer, with Ambit Architecture handling the design duties. And wouldn’t you know it, these same groups worked together on the two other Philly flatirons we mentioned above.

Sweet rendering
Looking north up Broad Street
Closer look at the corner

Unlike the buildings in Queen Village and Fishtown, this building won’t come to such a sharp point at the corner. But it doesn’t appear this was a design choice, per se. You can see in the photo above from a hundred years ago that the original building here came close to the corner, but the Jimmy G’s building stops well short of the corner, offering a canvas of sorts for signage. From what we can tell, in the early 1930s, the City took possession of the triangular tip of this property… maybe for purposes relating to the Broad Street Line? Whatever the reason, the developers of this project don’t own the whole corner, so they aren’t able to go full flatiron here. But the new building will still be wedge-shaped, so in our book, it’s close enough.

This project seems like a major win in just about every way. A sharp building (good looking, and pointier than most), with ground floor commercial and no parking, rising immediately on top of a subway stop? Sign us up. This location is convenient to Temple University and is a short ride to Center City. Oh, and if you need groceries, there’s the newish Aldi that’s part of the Broadridge complex right out your back door. This continues the seemingly endless momentum on North Broad, with the stretch between City Hall and Temple transforming bit by bit with every new project that comes along.