Thursday, September 22, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- September 22nd

Franklin Town and RDA Fail Lot

Bounded by 18th Street, Vine Street, Wood Street, and 16th Street.

Fucking pathetic!
                       This is one of the saddest empty lots in town... and that's saying something. A two block long sea of asphalt with a noisy-ass submerged highway to the south and a busy-ass street to the east. This shit never had to happen. I mean really... NEVER. The lot doesn't exactly have a storied history or anything... its always been blocks of rowhomes and industrial buildings. Nothing to write home about.
                      You may recall a previous Empty Lot of the Week that was part of the failed-ass Franklin Town development project. A large piece of that project was Franklin Town Boulevard, the brainchild of architect Phillip Johnson. This was going to be a diagonal street that would be the focus of the gigantic amount of concrete ugly shit that they had planned to build.
                      Around 1981-82, 10 years after Franklin Town was first conceived, very little progress had been made. A few butt-fugly buildings and a whole shitload of empty lots was all it had amounted to. Developers who had listened to the dumbass architecture critics who thought this thing was going to be the greatest thing since peanut butter were pissed off and starting to sell off their shit. The city responded by fucking up 17th Street and laying down the useless-ass Franklin Town Boulevard. This also had the effect of creating the Franklin Town and RDA Fail Lot.
                        In 1987, developer Stephen Klein purchased the 1700 block of Vine in 1987 for 3.7 million dollars with an agreement with the Redevelopment Authority that he would develop the lot within 5 years. Economic problems and other issues prevented 6 separate projects from getting off the ground. Finally, in 2009, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had given up on the idea of building a temple on North Broad Street. They got into the groove of purchasing the west side of the Franklin Town and RDA Fail Lot.
                   That's when the RDA became one giant gigantic steaming-shit smelling NIMBY. They jumped on Klein and threatened to take over the land because he had not developed it fast enough. They would drop the suit if Klein handed over 25% of the Mormon sale price, a 1.9 million dollar bribe. And it is a bribe. The 70 million dollar Mormon Temple project was about to get fucked over just because these dumbasses wanted a payday. Crooks. Klein offered a $100,000 bribe instead and they took it, laughing their asses off the entire time. Just last week, the ground was broken on this kick-ass design for a Mormon Temple.

Shit, call me Elder GroJLart... this is awesome!
                  Pretty pathetic that this little temple has a superior design to 90% of the buildings built in this city in the last 80 years. Good job, Mormons. The 1600 block of Vine, the east side of the lot, has also been the subject of many failed developments over the years... most notably Grasso's mixed-use development, creatively named 1601 Vine. Like Klein, Grasso also did some scrumbling with the corrupt-ass RDA. That project is now dead as fuck.
                  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints purchased the east side of the Franklin Town and RDA Fail Lot and intends to develop it into some kind of retail/commercial thing. It'll probably be some kind of strip mall. Who cares? How often do I get to present and Empty Lot that will soon be finally gone? Welcome to Philafuckingdelphia, Mormon Temple. I'm glad your here.


  1. I used to walk home from school every day down 17th street, and we'd just cut through the lot until they fenced it off. Made us all mad that we had to walk probably an extra 50 feet just avoid trespassing on their stupid parking lot.

  2. Excellent! I was wondering what your thoughts on the Mormon Fortress/Temple were. Seems like it'd be right up your alley: massive and pretty awesome.

  3. Happy to be here!

    Not from Philly but proud of the temples we build. Also, you got an awesome custom one - there are lots of smaller basically identical ones but we're still building some gems like this:


    And the awesomest of all:

    San Diego

  4. not a fan of mormon architecture generally, but the building will fit nicely into its surroundings.

  5. I have to agree. The rendering looks pretty good for this building here. It's certainly better than some of the stuff that's been erected recently.