Archive for the ‘Points of Interest’ Category

Lunchtime Quick Hits

Monday, July 28th, 2014

The big real estate search engine deal everyone’s been talking about is official; the Inquirer’s real estate writer takes another stroll through the Land of the Undead; Contrary to common assumptions, John Longacre, head of the local bar owners’ trade group, doesn’t want to squash the pop-up beer gardens – he wants everyone, bar owner and nonprofit alike, to be able to get in on the act; and at least one native Philadelphia misses the gritty, grimy, decaying city of her youth:

Zillow to buy Trulia for $3.5B (Philadelphia Business Journal)
On the House: Tracking zombie houses (The Philadelphia Inquirer|
How the Pop-Ups can actually prop up their neighbors (Plan Philly)
Growing Up in Philadelphia: The Lost City (Philadelphia)

Are Bromley mill repairs a harbinger of more to come?

Friday, July 25th, 2014


In August 2012, several months before the fire at the former Buck Hosiery factory in East Kensington, Jesse Muñoz bought the John Bromley & Sons Ingrain Carpet factory, aka Bromley mill, or “white elephant,” across the street from the doomed factory at 2301 N. Front St. Redeveloping the Bromley mill had been his dream for years.

With information scant on Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections Web site and not much on the meeting minutes at the East Kensington Neighbors Association, one can only make an educated guess at what’s going at the factory—and that is that Muñoz is following through with his plan to transform the building into condos. (more…)

Transformation of 1100 block of Chestnut Street now underway

Friday, July 25th, 2014
The site of the Brickstone project at 1116-28 Chestnut Street

The site of the Brickstone project at 1116-28 Chestnut Street. The Oppenheim, Collins store at 1128, the one building that will remain standing when the project is complete, is the second from the right.

The 1100 block of Chestnut Street in Washington Square West’s Midtown Village-Gayborhood section contains a mish-mash of low-end discount establishments, long-vacant department stores, and some government agency offices, like the PGW office in the former Snellenburg’s parking garage on the north side. Its southern side, marred with graffiti is an orphaned row of buildings surrounded on all sides by a burgeoning real estate market from Delaware Avenue all the way to the outskirts of West Philadelphia. (more…)

Hidden Treasure Hunt: Character study

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The dynamic of neighborhood change sometimes injects a note of variety, or even whimsy, into a streetscape. We ran across what we think is an example of the latter recently. Might this fellow be a character from Shakespeare, or a grand Italian opera? Or maybe he represents a certain style of historical dress, one consistent with the architecture of the building he graces, which itself stands out amidst its row. Where is this building?


Answer next week.

S.S. Kresge Co. in Brewerytown

Last week’s Hidden Treasure Hunt answer: One reader did recognize the name on the building we showed you last week: it was an S. S. Kresge Co. store. Kresge was a rival of F. W. Woolworth Co. in the five-and-dime business, and its stores could often be found close by Woolworth locations in neighborhood business districts like the one where this store is located. Founded in 1899 and headquartered in Detroit, Kresge was one of the first companies to venture into discount department store territory; it opened its first Kmart in Garden City, Mich., in 1962. Like retailer Dayton Hudson would some years later, it eventually changed the company name to that of its discount store division, renaming itself Kmart Corporation in 1977. In 2004, the company, recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, acquired another American retailing icon, Sears, took the name of its new acquisition and moved its headquarters to Sears’ home of Hoffman Estates, Ill., outside Chicago. The retailer, now known as Sears Holdings, continues to struggle to find a winning retail formula today.

That reader put the store in the wrong neighborhood, though: this particular former Kresge store is in the 2800 block of West Girard Avenue in Brewerytown. Others like it survive across the city.

Photos by the author

Lunchtime Quick Hits

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

It appears that one of Atlantic City’s sinking casinos is simply too attractive a property to let it just drown, even though it’s been through bankruptcy twice; the CityPaper does a roundup of five big development projects it says will have the biggest transformative impact on the city; He was the world’s most famous rich, paranoid recluse. Now he’s a major real estate play that comes highly recommended by a popular investment site; and the Athanaeum of Philadelphia, itself a landmark, celebrates its bicentennial by asking artists to come up with their own interpretations of other historic landmarks in town:

Mayor: 6 potential buyers for Revel casino (Associated Press via
Checking in on the 5 big projects likely to make a difference in Philly (CityPaper)
Howard Hughes Corporation: A Real Estate Development Play With Strong Chances to Outperform (The Motley Fool)
Landmarks, Reinterpreted (Hidden City Daily)

Massive Renaissance Plaza project goes before ZBA

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Aerial view of Renaissance Plaza project from the northeast

Aerial view of Renaissance Plaza project from the northeast

Waterfront Renaissance Associates headed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment yesterday for a special exception to create one lot from six lots and remove all existing structures at 400 N. Columbus Blvd., where Northern Liberties meets the Delaware riverfront, in order to build the massive and dense Renaissance Plaza. In place of the structures now there, the developers plan to flood the lot with four detached structures, ranging from 21 to 31 stories in height, that contain 1,342 apartments. Additionally, 16 townhouses,  70,000 square feet of retail space, 21,000 square feet of office space and a large public plaza will rise out of the lot that is now nothing more than a rocky desert across from Dave & Buster’s and in the shadow of the iconic Ben Franklin Bridge. (more…)

Lunchtime Quick Hits

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

More on the politics of the fight over the off-premises catering license loophole, a good explanation of how state law restricts supply in the face of rising demand; another abandoned beauty on North Broad Street will suffer a fate far different from the Divine Lorraine’s; that Tria G-Ho residents were promised but never got? Looks like it will be coming to the vicinity — as long as they’re willing to cross South Street to get to it; and speaking of “light fantastic,” check out what Philly and several other big cities look like from outer space:

The Prohibition-era policy driving the political scuffle over pop-up beer gardens (Plan Philly)
The Beury Building Is Up For Sheriff’s Sale (Property blog|Philadelphia magazine)
Years Later, Tria Finally Coming Near Graduate Hospital (Naked Philly)
Let’s Look at Philly from the International Space Station (Curbed Philly)

Buildings Then and Now: Norris Square banks safe — for now

Saturday, July 19th, 2014
The Ninth National/Industrial Trust & Savings banks today

The Ninth National/Industrial Trust & Savings banks today.

Before the Frankford El began threading itself above Front Street in 1915, passing by Norris Square in West Kensington on its way to Frankford and completion in 1922, the textile industry in the area wove its way through the very fabric of the neighborhood, shaping it into one of wealth, industry and jobs. But all that money needed a place to be stored other than under the carpets made in the mills that dominated Kensington from the late 1880s to the 1920s.

In response to that need, textile owners took the initiative and built the Ninth National and Industrial Trust, Title & Savings banks at 1942-58 N. Front St., which was a perfect place to store all that money and to pay it out to workers. By the time the industry reached its heyday around 1914 at the start of World War I, nearly 50 percent of all carpets manufactured in the United States originated in the mills of Kensington. (more…)

We pop in to the PHS Pop-up Garden

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

PHS Pop-Up Garden

Since it first sprouted three summers ago, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Pop-up Garden has bloomed into a hardy perennial. What started as a way to showcase how vacant lots can be transformed into things of beauty has become the pioneer of a new category of development in Philadelphia: the transformative seasonal hangout that reveals the potential of an open space.

Spaces like The Oval, which opens for its second summer season today, and Spruce Street Harbor Park at Penn’s Landing owe their existence, in a sense, to PHS’ green initiative. Meanwhile, PHS continues to refine and improve on the original model, and this year’s Pop-Up Garden at 1438 South Street in Graduate Hospital is the fanciest yet. (more…)

Lunchtime Quick Hits

Friday, July 11th, 2014

That hot Philly apartment market? Looks like it’s taking a breather; We thought the new zoning code was supposed to get rid of stuff like this — especially those garage-front row houses — but apparently the still-busy ZBA has other ideas; Two advocates argue that helping the poor find housing they can afford is good for the economy; and hey, it worked for all-night subway-elevated service, why not try the same approach for making it more convenient to travel between Philly and Wilmington?

Signs of cooling in the apartment market? (Philadelphia Business Journal)
Why Philly’s zoning board is still so dysfunctional (CityPaper)
How affordable housing can boost Philadelphia’s economy (Philadelphia Business Journal)
What Do You Think? Should We Boost SEPTA Service to Wilmington? (Plan Philly)


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