Last year, the The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society organized a pop-up garden at an embarrassing vacant lot at 20th and Market Streets, alongside some of the tallest buildings in town. Well, PHS is doing it again, this time at an even more embarrassing vacant lot, on the 1900 block of Walnut Street, across from Rittenhouse Square.
We briefly covered some of this lot’s history a few months back, but to review: The Rittenhouse Eric Theater, made its home here for about twenty-five years. The building next door, a nearly one-hundred year old historic brownstone that had been converted into an office, caught fire in 1994, damaging the theater to the point that it had to be demolished.
So yes, this has been an empty lot for nearly two decades. Holy smokes.
For the next few months, at least, this lot will lose its eyesore identity and become a place that people talk about with positivity.
The new garden will open to the public on June 22nd at noon. Sponsored by Chipotle, the garden will attempt to shine a light on PHS City Harvest, a program that helps feed needy families through partnerships with local community gardens. We’ve mentioned this program before, and it is awesome. A communal table will be incorporated into the garden, and will represent the idea that everyone should have access to healthy and delicious foods.
Take a look at the progress, so far.
Still amazing that no buildings are here
Western side. Port-o-potty probably not part of the final installation.
Hours at the garden will be Tuesdays through Fridays, 11am-2pm, Thursdays, 5pm-7pm, and the second Saturday of each month, 9am-1pm. Last year the garden lasted until October, and we’re guessing that will be the plan again.
Hopefully, the spotlight that the garden will provide will inspire someone to finally develop this site. Castleway Properties paid an astronomical $35M for the lot in 2007, only to see their development plan fall apart when a project of theirs in another part of the world went belly up. On the plus side, they’re apparently paying down their delinquent tax bill, which is still over $200K. How much do we think they would take for the lot? $20M? Less? Anybody out there feeling saucy enough to make an offer?
For some more history about this lot, click here or here.