Spring Garden Street east of Broad is undergoing quite the renaissance, thanks in part to the Rail Park to the south and numerous projects various sizes changing the face of West Poplar to the north. With Union Transfer and PhilaMoca just steps apart, restaurants and breweries within a few minutes walk and easy access to the Broad Street Line, it was only a matter of time before this became a red hot area. The newest entrant into the arena is at 1201 Spring Garden St., which was most recently home to a Citizens Bank branch.
Citizens Bank occupied a one-story building which was constructed in the mid-1950s for the Girard Trust Corn Exchange Bank. We have a feeling that the building looked a little classier when it was first built compared to recent years, but at no point did it hold a candle to the Ridge Avenue Bank, which preceded it at this location. How in the world was that thing demoed? The mind reels.
Last year, the Girard Corn Bank turned Mellon Bank turned Citizens Bank turned street art canvas got demoed in preparation for a new project. Given all the activity in the surrounding area, this came as no surprise.
In place of the bank, look for a seven story, mixed-use building designed by CosciaMoos to rise on the triangular parcel. Gray brick and dark window casings will provide some modern flair, while the massing and window placement will provide a more traditional complement to the existing architecture of the neighborhood. The most striking feature is surely the neo-art deco clock tower facing east at this sharp intersection, providing a rather grand entrance to the Ridge Ave. corridor. We wonder, was there a clock at the corner of the 1950s-era bank building that was removed at some point before Citizens Bank took over the space which is now being referenced by the clock in the new building?
This project will bring 46 units, 13 parking spots, a roof deck and a commercial space fronting Spring Garden St. for a potential cafe. Only demolition permits have been issued so far, but we hope to see this move forward in short order. Arts + Crafts Holdings is the developer and they sure have been busy in the Spring Garden district lately. While we were checking out the progress, it was impossible to miss all the activity taking place in the immediate area. La Chinesca is up and running across from the now-demolished Lawsonia Building. Alterra’s LVL North is rising a few blocks west at Broad & Spring Garden, along with a smattering of other infill projects in the vicinity.
A recurring theme we’ve noticed with some recent proposals is the loss of public art and that’s the case here too, at least in part. The old bank was the canvas for a mural by Steve “ESPO” Powers, one of our favorite Philly-born and raised artists, whose works are all around the city. We are happy to report that “Folding the Prism,” the gorgeous mural on the adjacent building by artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, will remain visible even with the construction of the new building. Arts + Crafts owns the building next door too, so we’ll be graced with a walking path that will save the art. Oh, and another mural will frame the residential entrance on Ridge Ave., adding even more vibrancy to this rapidly evolving area.