Eastern State Penitentiary is truly one of Philadelphia’s architectural gems, attracting over a quarter-million tourists annually. After serving as a prison between 1829 and 1970, the structure was mostly abandoned for a couple of decades, and faced the possibility of demolition during Frank Rizzo’s administration. By 1994, the building had reopened for tour groups, and its popularity as an attraction has grown tremendously in the years since.
A notable feature of the building that may go unnoticed by tourists is that it’s surrounded by green space, particularly on the northern and eastern sides. According to Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park, these spaces were overgrown, trash-strewn, and extremely unwelcoming in the late 1990s, but have improved tremendously in the years since due to tremendous fundraising and volunteer efforts in the community. Less than ten years ago, a playground was constructed…
We’ve had plenty of coverage of Ridge Avenue in Francisville over the past couple of years, mostly sharing info about vacant land and blighted (and tax delinquent) properties. One major project we’ve seen come about on Ridge of late is the huge Project H.O.M.E. development on the 1500 block, which is still being framed out. Today we have a smaller but still important project to bring to your attention, this time on the 1600 block.
We noticed a zoning notice at 1608 Ridge Ave. a couple of weeks ago, and just realized that the project is going before the ZBA this week. Proposed for this currently vacant lot is a new mixed-use building with bays and balconies, a community center on the first floor, and twelve residential units. We can only imagine that these will be rental units, and we would…
Back in October, we first told you about plans to construct four quadplexes on the northwest corner of 16th & Poplar, ostensibly for student housing. In the past few months, foundations have been poured and framing looks to be nearing completion. Looking at the site today, you get a pretty good sense of what the buildings will ultimately look like.
On the plus side, we were pleased to see four vacant lots, some of which were previously owned by PHA, redeveloped by a private developer. Our only minor complaint was that the design of the project in conjunction with the number of apartments would mean small, oddly shaped units that would be extremely conducive to student tenants. By that we mean the units would likely never be attractive to individuals looking to stay in…
A reader gave us the heads up that the Wine and Spirits Shop at 20th & Fairmount was closed for business today. Looking at the storefront, we saw signs that stated that the store was closed due to an emergency, and an L&I violation sign indicated problems with the rear wall and the roof.
So why would the rear wall and the roof of this store be compromised? We can only guess that this is due to the demolition of a long-blighted PHA house right behind the building. We swung around the corner, and noted that yet another property is being demolished on this block by
A few months back, we first told you about a new duplex going up at 712 N. 19th St., on a block that exclusively features one-story homes set back from the street. The duplex looks to be nearly complete on the outside, though we spotted workers on the site, ostensibly tying up some loose ends.
From a distance
As you can see in the photo, this new structure doesn’t fit in with the surrounding homes even a little bit. And if you ask us, that’s a-ok. The one-story homes were built by PHA in the 1970s as for-sale affordable housing units, and we would humbly suggest that they were outdated the day they were built. To see a developer come in and implement an appropriate height and density for one of these lots is a little jarring to look at, but represents progress,…
Last month, we updated you on the large, mixed-use project going up at the corner of 19th & Poplar, in Francisville. At that time, about half of the homes in the development looked nearly complete on the outside, with framing underway on additional units.
A reader checked in the other day, and gave us the heads up about some unusual sheathing being used on the southernmost house at this moment. We confess, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen. We’ve heard of adaptive reuse, but this is unprecedented.
What in the world is this doing here?