313 South Broad Street
|Don't be fooled by it's small size.|
This lot's first known life was as the residence of the Fell-Drexels, yet another 19th Century Philadelphia power couple. They built a mansion at 313 South Broad, set back from the street, back when the term "street" would be used rather loosely. It was more like set back from the 100-foot-wide horseshit and mud conveyor belt that was called "Broad Street" back then. After the Fell-Drexels moved to what we now call Fort Washington, the residence changed hands a number of times until purchased by the City Club of Philadelphia.
The City Club was one of the many many many gentleman's clubs that existed in American cities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The City Club was much newer and different from the Freemasons, Elks, Oddfellows, Saint Georgians, Columbians, Scottish Riteys, and all the other groups of rich men that sat around smoking cigars and shit. The City Club was basically made up of all the assholes who weren't allowed in or thrown out of any of those other clubs for any number of reasons. Naturally, they were the fastest growing gentleman's club of the era. They spread into Philadelphia in 1905.
In 1916, they purchased the Fell-Drexel property and built their own five storey clubhouse around and in front of it for the then-hefty sum of 250 Stacks.
|The Annex Building in 1978.|
|Hey, it's hard to find a rendering from the 90's. It's too old to be relevant and not old enough to be archived somewhere!|
Residents of the 300 block of Juniper Street lost their damn minds! How dare a private property owner build a 17 storey building on a city's primary street without consulting them on every detail!!! Like the recent situation with the Dog Park, the nearby citizens had no idea that this project was even happening until the demolition, despite U. Arts and the Avenue of the Arts Inc. mentioning it at every fundraiser, graduation, exhibition, press release, and event for 4 years straight.
The NIMBYs were so blindsided by this that they just started making up shit in order to fuck the project over. Leon Chudzinski, then president of the Washington Square West Civic Association, said "...with 17 floors, the dorm would tower over other buildings in the vicinity by more than 10 stories... ...This is something that isn't within scale with the rest of the community", which is complete unadulterated bullshit. Center City One is LESS THAN A HALF BLOCK AWAY from the site and is THIRTY FUCKING STOREYS!! Fuck you, Chud.
|Center City One as seen from the neighborhood in question.|
What goes through their heads? This isn't fucking Shanghai where a 2,000-foot skyscraper with six 800-foot support buildings will be built in your damn back yard. I suspect that many of these neighbors owned property that they often rented out to U. Arts students and were threatened by new modern student housing taking their customers.
The University still needed the dorm space so they gave up the plan and made a deal with the owner of the former Social Services Building at 311 Juniper Street, which was already in the process of being converted into apartments. Ironically, the Social Services building is located on the same block as all the residents that gave them shit. You can spot it in the middle of the picture at the top of the article. The NIMBYs freaked out and went for the jugular. In this case, there wasn't much they could do and the project was completed. Good. Fuck 'em.
After 1999, the NIMBY Memorial West just sat there with a shitty chain link fence in front of it for a few years until U. Arts started using it as an outdoor Art Gallery and Exhibition Space. This is a pretty good use for an empty lot but I'd rather have a building. Any other use stands as a reminder of how a few disgruntled residents stopped a perfectly good project on Philadelphia's primary street. What a fucking shame.
|This is how it looked on Tuesday, August 16th.|