Thursday, May 23, 2013

Will Big Residential Projects Yield More Local Business?

Condos Replacing Saint John's (via Philadelphia Real Estate Blog)

Hey Pennsport, take a look at these renderings and brace yourself for the Summer of enormous residential projects - it will soon be upon us.

The demolition of Saint John's makes way for twelve four-story condos with off street parking. Not to be outdone, the site of the warehouse fire at 2nd and Wharton is soon to become the four story behemoth of Two Street; featuring eleven single-family townhomes.

(It should be noted that the Wharton Street proposal will be across from another set of four-story town homes with curb cut garages fronting 2nd Street. This project has only one curb cut with centralized, hidden parking in the middle of the unit, a positive for sure)

11 Single-Family Townhomes at 2nd and Wharton (via Philadelphia Real Estate Blog)

Given the fact that these two projects alone will hopefully soon house twenty-three new families, a larger question begins to form - where is all the retail?

Do yourself a favor and read this fascinating article from Flying Kite Media "Where Have All The Corner Stores Gone?" The article focuses on the odd circumstance of the ever-growing residential space of the popular Graduate Hospital neighborhood and its lack of a commercial corridor or plan. It's a story that could be easily applied to Pennsport in a lot of instances.
Pennsport has seen slow growth in local business recently. Staples like Federal Donuts, The Industry, 2nd St. Brew House, and Mekong River have all come in and represented the neighborhood well. Their food is highly rated while giving Pennsporter's, old and new, a business they can take pride in and enjoy. However, outside the restaurant scene, Pennsport lacks the local business to service the area and take the next step as Philly's next great neighborhood.

It's important to mention that not one of proposed projects offer anything in the realm of mixed use space. It's particularly disappointing in the projects at 2nd and Wharton as well the one at 2nd and Reed - given that they are in an area where business has been growing and could offer some sort of outline for a planned commercial corridor.

Much like the Flying Kite article, take a walk around Pennsport on a Saturday morning and you'll start to notice the amount of one-time corner stores turned in to residential space or simply sit unused (what up, Del's II?). You may even walk by the Pennsport Mall, which has tons of promise but serious design flaws hold it back from becoming a thriving business district.

With a properly executed local commercial corridor, Pennsport could offer residents something most other neighborhoods simply can't - local places to shop within the heart of the neighborhood combined with big box, suburban necessities like Target, Walmart, two grocery stores (!) and even the Riverview. In this instance, I-95 actually helps the situation - acting as a man-made barrier to keep the neighborhood lifestyle intact.

As these new projects bring in more homeowners to the area, hopefully a plan to build a commercial corridor that nurtures local business begins also.

In the meantime, what kind of local businesses would you most like to see come to Pennsport along with this recent housing boom?

Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter - @pennsporter


  1. Hey Jim, I'm not familiar with the approval process for designs. Does Pennsport Civic have a say? I gotta admit, I'm grateful for the association but they seem to be doing a lot of the same old stuff while the neighborhood is changing around it. Their high barriers to entry and hold a position could be a contributing factor to stagnation and lack of focus on supporting business development.

  2. Don't forget the 5 units restarting at 2nd and Washington

  3. Good point, Avi. The entire area is changing and I used these projects more as examples, especially with the recent news surrounding them.

    I can think of a couple larger scale condo/apartment/single family projects outside of this post that are going to bring in more people to Pennsport.

    Don't get me wrong, it's great that Pennsport is taking off, but business needs to be mixed in to this residential boom.


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