Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fill This Front: Walnut Nails

1223 Walnut Street

            Ok, this storefront has only been empty for a year so I can't be too mad about it. However, what I can be mad about is that despite its appearance, its not even actually empty! What the fuck is going on here?
           This storefront occupies the remains of an old mansion-sized rowhouse built in the 1830s-1850s. It was first used for commercial purposes in the 1910s, when it became medical offices, while at other times it went back to being a huge-ass residence.

Here it is in 1927. Its the one on the right.
           In the mid 1950s, the building sustained a fair amount of fire damage and the first floor was re-built as a storefront that held a barbershop for 13 years. In 1969, the storefront took on its current appearance under the designs of architect Hans F. Egli. For the next 30 years, the front and the whole rest of the building would be occupied by travel agency Talmage Tours, which didn't close until January 1999.
         In 1999 the storefront became a RPM Records, a music and vintage store. They stuck around for two years. In 2002, the storefront briefly became Male Ego, a Gay Interest store. Finally in 2003, Walnut Nails came along and stuck around for 10 straight years, finally closing in late 2013. By the way, if you want to read some hilariously negative Yelp reviews, read this.

Walnut Nails in 2009 via the Google Streetview Time Machine
          Ever since, the front just sat empty without a "For Lease" sign or anything else going on. Recently, 1223 Walnut along with 1221 next door went up for sale as a package deal. Upon learning this, I figured that the owners of both buildings (the same family that owns Pandora's Lunchbox) were just leaving it empty so whomever bought the two buildings could go about getting it filled. Case closed, right?
        WRONG!! In the last few months, I noticed that the empty front had some of that trademark brown paper up in the windows. I got excited with all the possibilities of what could be coming here. Then, a few weeks later, the some of the paper was getting ripped off the inside of the front door so it became possible to see inside.
        What did I see? Storage. A bunch of food and other supplies piled up all over the place. Therefore, I can only assume that this place is being leased, at least temporarily, by another concern nearby for use as storage. What kind of use is this for a storefront? How the hell do they plan to sell this building while using the empty storefront space as a storage room? Who the hell is storing shit here!?!? Actually, I kind of know who, but I don't want to reveal it without confirmation. There isn't any new permit or anything on their online L & I file, but those can be sometimes outdated. What the shit is going on here?
         Well, whatever is going on, this building and the one next to it are for sale-- though I can't find the "For Sale" sign on the building. Nonetheless, if you've got the means, this is a pretty good place to get. It consists of two storefronts with apartments on the upper floors. This location gets loads of foot traffic, is near the 13th Street restaurant row, and is accessible by nearly every form of public transportation Septa has to offer. Its even near the Patco! The storefront was once able to sustain the same company for 30 years and another for 10. The potential is obviously there, so you'd better get in now while the gettin's good. Here's the listing again. Be that hero-- buy these buildings and FILL THIS FRONT!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Butt-Fugly Building: Spring Garden Towers

1820 Spring Garden Street

                 Jesus, what trash. I know its an old folk's castle but still... what the hell did these seniors do to deserve a fate like this? Did you even take a dump that was all painful and difficult and then you look back at the bowl and your dookie is a weird color? That's the color of this building.
                The origin of this thing goes all the way back to 1976, when lots of buildings were being proposed in this area as a part of the failed Franklintown revitalization project. An old folk's apartment building was planned on what was then a thin parking lot at 1818-1820 Spring Garden Street. Back then, this was no where you wanted to be. Old abandoned industrial shit filled many blocks to the south and east while a dying neighborhood stretched out to the north.
              The architect was the crappy firm of Nowicki & Polillo, whose other works include such butt-fuglies as Academy House, 1845 Walnut, the Gateway Building, and the Archdiocese Office Building. Have you ever met anyone who thought those buildings looked good? No? OF COURSE NOT!!! Then, once it opened in 1978, they called it "Spring Garden Towers". TowerS!?! ARRGGHHH!! Why the fuck do they ever name single buildings with a plural!?!?! Museum Towers next door does the same fucking thing, but at least the second one is just about to be built.
            Another thing that pisses me off about this building is that it does the same shit like 1635 Market where the front of the building is just a blank wall with a column of windows in the middle. Its easier to see from the back:

              What an embarrassment. Get this: not only is it filled with NIMBYS, its NIMBY-hood was guaranteed as part of its construction! When all the Franklintown shit was happening back in the 1970s, the Lutheran Associates who developed this place were able to secure the air rights of 1822 Spring Garden, the little building next door. Of course, no one told Jon Federman of Nette Properties this in 2004 when he bought the place for $1.8 Mil with the intention of putting up a 40-story condo there.

Its looks like a Sega CD game. Full motion video!!!
                 Though this building was probably pipe dream to begin with, the Spring Garden CDC NIMBYS went fucking bananas and the residents of Spring Garden Towers lost their shit as well. By the end of 2006, approvals supposedly went through for this monster but lawyers and shit got involved after that... then the economy tanked so it never happened.
                 Nowadays, the new Museum Towers II complex is about to be built to the south of this thing and it seems like Forest City, the developer, doesn't want to even try to fuck with Spring Garden Towers so the section of the property directly south of this crap tower has short townhouses that are hiding a short parking garage. Whatever... at least the parking lot will be gone.

The future of this hood... Franklintown is finally filling in.