Thursday, June 23, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- June 23rd

Deadly Disappointment Lot

12th and Arch Streets

God fucking Dammit!
                       Why is there an empty lot across the street from Reading Terminal Market and the Convention Center? NO ONE could get this lot developed? NO ONE was motivated enough to make piles and piles of money enough to get this thing going? What the fuck? Wasn't a prime enough location for you? Was TOO convenient to the Convention Center, City Hall, Reading Terminal, City Hall, Criminal Justice Center, Maggiano's and a shitload of hotels? You've got to be kidding me.
                        12th and Arch was developed in pretty much every decade since the 1830's except the last two. Large rowhomes once stood on the spot, back in the brief time period when the area to the east of pre-City Hall version of Centre Square was the ritziest in town. They became storefronts and lasted all the way up to about 1987.

You know it's 1917 when you see fire escapes in front of rowhomes. Second points of egress were few and far between in mid-19th Century construction.

Here's the corner again in 1970, still rockin' the frontwise fire escapes. Hard to find them nowadays outside Old City but you still run into them once in awhile.
The Deadly Disappointment Lot was once MUCH larger.
                     Since those rowhomes were destroyed, this corner has stayed a Puke-paved Parking Pond to up into the present day. Plenty of developers have been interested in it, but for some reason this piece of piss lot can't seem to find a friend. There was lots of excitement a few years ago when the W Hotel was going to try to expand into Philadelphia one more time after getting rebuffed by NIMBY's over wanting to build on The Great NIMBY Memorial. They had a design that was intriguing, a compliment to the PSFS Building a block away.

A new building that I almost sorta like and they never fucking built it. FUCK
                      As with most cool projects, it never fucking happened. That's what always happens. You see cool-ass renderings for neat-looking buildings that are about to go up, and then it somehow FAILS MISERABLY. Then, when you see a rendering for a project that looks like butt, it finds away to get itself built by all means necessary. The saddest part of the story of this lot is that there is a current proposal for this lot that is gaining strength rapidly. Home 2 Suites is planning to build a franchise here, an extended stay hotel that will inevitably look like ass. How do I know it'll look like ass? I found the rendering:

                     Really? REALLY? Another fucking box? Is this 2011? Isn't this sort of a tourist area? Why a friggin BOX? You couldn't be a little more creative? I'd rather have the mangled rowhome with the fire escape on the front. This is friggin' embarassing. The worst part is that this has had a better chance than any other project ever to be proposed here. What a goddamn tragedy. Balls.


  1. The buildings at the SW corner of 12th/Arch lasted until the late 90s. There was an old-school barber shop on the 12th St. side where I had my haircut 1996-97. I think I have photos (non-digital) somewhere of the building as it was being demolished...

  2. Oh wow... I would love to see those pics.

  3. At one point (er, 1979?) we rented a ton of space over the strip of commercial buildings... for like $175/month -- bands like The Stickmen, King of Siam, and the John Cadillac Band all rehearsed there in what was a pretty skivvy neighborhood.

    There was also a year-long performance/free jazz/improv place called the Wet Spot.

    You could watch the rats running down the aisles of the Reading Terminal at night from the upstairs windows... (there was a brief plague of rats there caused by the commuter tunnel construction among other things!

    -- Mike McGettigan( ancient drummer for the Stickmen, currently running a couple of bike shops)