Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Parking Garage of the Week-- May 23rd

The Lift

101 South Juniper Street

               Now this is what should be done with all parking garages. Though its probably gonna look ridiculous in 20 years, for the time being, this is way better than your typical shitty parking garage. Though almost 50 years old, the Lift's makeover in recent years makes it one of the most advanced above-ground garages in the region.
                The site this carbox sits on was home to a VERY lost building. The Drury Building stood for six decades at 101 South Juniper but no one ever took a picture of it or added it to any record of ANYTHING. The only picture of it is a grainy aerial photo where you can only see the roof. Carbon Paper was produced there for years until it became home to Edgar V. Seeler's architecture firm. Its storefront held the second-ever Horn and Hardart's location.
                In 1961, Philadelphia Penny-Park, Inc. proposed what they used to call a "pigeonhole parking" structure for the site. The ugly-ass one on Broad Street had just been completed and this new one would improve upon its design. It would have a more advanced automated parking system and, unlike the Broad Street one, provide storefronts along Juniper Street.
Rendering of the garage in 1961.
                   The beast cost $1.2 million and was designed to hold 245 cars. After being completed in the mid-60's, no one gave a shit about it anymore. It fell into obscurity almost immediately. Flash forward to the early 21st Century. By this point, the garage was no longer in use and was solely dedicated to its crappy Juniper Street storefronts. Among its last tenants were a cafe/donut shop called Lil' Spot and a graffiti supply store called Rarebreed.

Remember this? Image by Charles Hess.
                    Lil' Spot had some kick-ass homemade donuts. Back when I worked on Market East, I would stop there every morning for coffee and a shitload of those little fresh donuts that were only seconds old when consumed. At some point in time, someone left the garage's stairway door open, causing the guys from Rarebreed to go up the rickety broken stairs of the place and tag the shit out of all the floors, turning the old Penny-Park into a Graffiti Art Gallery. I once had the privilege of climbing those broken stairs in pitch black darkness to check out floor after floor of graffiti murality. It was pretty cool once you got over the trauma of almost falling through the stairs like eight times.
                         With the Tony Goldman Renaissance of nearby 13th Street, the neighborhood's parking needs went way up (despite having a shitload of pre-existing garages in every direction). On March 18th, 2006, Brandywine Realty Trust purchased the ol' Penny-Park for $2.25 million and kicked the tenants the fuck out. Rarebreed was the only survivor, lasting a few more years near South Street. Brandywine then spent the next few years gutting and renovating the garage. It took fucking FOREVER, blocking Juniper Street for months at a time.

Toward the end of construction in January, 2010 with street blocked. Pic by member Muji.
                     The cool thing about this renovation is that they took a fucked-up old parking garage and made it almost look like a building. They added polycarbonate and glass panels to pretty up the place and renamed it The Lift. Not only does it park 240 cars with super-fast retrieval time, its one of only 11 of its kind in the nation. And for all you environment nerds out there, this place is actually eco-friendly! Whoda thunk it? The only problem I have with the place is that the storefronts are lost.
                     When the renovation was first being done, rumors swirled around stating that if this thing was successful, other parking garages would be redone in the same way. Well... The Lift has been open for awhile now... hopefully Brandywine will be inspired to start on some other garages. I suggest the butt-fugly Pigeonhole Parking building on Broad Street. Get to it, Brandyfucks!!
Just a reminder of what it looked like for decades. Photo by Tim McFarlane


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  2. This should be implemented with all parking garages. Though it’s probably looking ridiculous in 20 years, for the time being, but I am sure that this is way better than those typical shitty parking garage.

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