Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fill This Front: 31 South 2nd

31 South Second Street

        This shitbird storefront is located in a semi-blighted Old City building that has been tied up in legal shit for years. I wish it was the only one of its kind on this block, but it isn't. Nonetheless, since this is the only one technically available for lease and/or sale, let's try to get it filled.
        The building this is located in is part of a conglomeration of half-renovated buildings that face both 2nd and Letitia Streets. In the documents in the legal shit related to this property, the group of buildings is called the "EFL V Property". Since this is an Old City building, I'm not going to bore you with the long long LONG list of occupants this storefront has had... however I can tell you about its most recent history.
         In 1947, it was combined with the storefront next door to become Waldman Furniture. The signage for this store has been re-exposed on the 33 South Second side of the front. Whatever happened there, it didn't work out and the storefronts were re-separated by 1953, when it became a lighting store called Lamp Exchange that stayed open for nearly 3 decades.

As Lamp Exchange in 1972.
             In 1982, the front began under its final purpose, a series of dry cleaning establishments that lasted well into the 21st Century. In this picture from 2005, you'll see that the storefront was relatively new-looking and up for lease by a real estate agency.

31 and 33's storefronts look a lot better in this picture, if you're wondering about how 27 and 29 got like that, read this. They're doing a lot better now.
                 In 2006, EFL Partners started a renovation of the place in connection with bunch of other adjacent buildings they also own. I'm bad at reading legalese but from what I can tell, they got the place partially redone at best. Ever since, the storefront has been boarded up and has been looking like shit. However, in 2012, a sign suddenly appeared reading "COMMERCIAL SPACE AVAILABLE". Though I can't tell if the sign means the storefront or the upper floors, I'm going to assume that the store space must be available. The phone number on the sign traces back to some dude's house in Staten Island, but whatever. Call him up.
              This is a ~945 square foot space with a 13'6" frontage on the unit block of South 2nd Street. This is a prime location for a business owner, since this block is rife with tourists during the day and covered with drunk out-of-towners (and out-of-neighborhooders) at night. Despite the look of this building and some others nearby, the surrounding 3-4 block radius is home to thousands of people with lots and lots of disposable income. In addition to that, there is an EL Stop half a block away and a bus transit hub nearby that serves a whole shit-ton of lines.
            Be a hero. Save a storefront that hasn't been in use for over a decade. Make lots of dough while contributing to society. Its all right there, ready for you. FILL THIS FRONT!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Butt-Fugly Building: Free Library of Philadelphia Charles Santore Branch

932 South 7th Street

             Fuck this bomb-shelter looking piece of shit right here. I don't care how much people might like it. This 51-year-old asspile is just yet another mid-century building in the city that proves, like many others, that these type of designs don't stand the test of time-- not in Philadelphia, anyway.
            There isn't much to say on the history of this place. It is the sequel to a much nicer 1911-built building that still stands at 5th and Ellsworth. This uglier one was proposed and designed in 1960 under designs from a crap firm called Eshbach, Pullinger, Stevens, Bruder. This firm did a lot of fucking damage to this city. Their other masterpieces include the 9th District Police Station/Rodin Place shopping center/parking garage at 20th and Hamiltion, the Orlowitz Residence Hall at 10th and Locust, and all of the UGLIEST 1960s/70s buildings on the Penn campus, which is saying something.

 Pic by Austin Murphy, Creative Commons License etc etc
            Talk about a building that doesn't fit with its surroundings. Great old brick rowhouses, churches, and schools as you walk around this hood, then you happen upon this goddamn concrete bunker and just yell "WHAT THE MOTHERFUCK!?!?!?" to the sky. It fits less into the neighborhood than the bright red awning of the pizza place across the street. What the fuck were they thinking with this design? It seems to be this common institutional theme from the mid 20th Century where they would make this pentagon shape like when a 5-year-old draws and house and run it over and over again down the street.

The logo of the Capital Area Head Start program looks mysteriously like the Charles Santore Branch

                You can also find this architectural theme in the design of some of the Rec Centers around the parts of the city the vast majority of you will never go. What a bunch of garbage. This 7,700 square foot Free Library branch broke ground on July 11th, 1962 and opened on November 1, 1963 as the Southwark Branch, again the sequel to a much awesomer building of the same name. Oh, did I mention what they demolished to build this piece of shit here?

Early 1962 pic of the awesome fire/police station destroyed to make way for this mess. 
The short time between the demolition of the old and the building of the new. If only they knew.
             The library went through a major renovation in 1998 when all 52 library branches were cleaned up and given internet access. On March 26, 2004, they insulted the shit out of the memory of Charles Santore, former boxer, Republican Ward Leader, and union local founder by naming the ugliest building in his whole neighborhood after him. There was another small renovation in 2010.
              I'm sure the community likes this place and that the library itself is just fine, but what a piece of fuck architecturally. Why the white walls at the corner? All the oddly-shaped rooms on the inside? I feel bad for the residents of Beulah Street who have the back of this shitty building across the street from their front doors.

The original blueprint via the Free Library of Philadelphia. In the 60s they thought having a bunch of slanted walls everywhere was the way to go.
                Look, the predecessor of this library was 52 year old when this place was built. This one is 51 years old now. That means, if we're going to follow to same pattern, a replacement of this building is due. Not that the city will be building new library buildings any time soon. Do this motherfucker a favor and put it out of its goddamn misery. Harrumph.