Demolition on the Horizon for Frankford Ave. Car Wash in Fishtown

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The car wash at Frankford Ave. and Norris St.

The revitalization of the Frankford Avenue commercial corridor was initially jumpstarted by Johnny Brenda’s and then fueled by Steven Starr’s Frankford Hall near the intersection of Frankford Ave. and Girard Ave. Other businesses surrounding the intersection joined the party in the years after, including the flagship La Colombe location, Kensington Quarters, Bottle Bar East, Cheu Noodle Bar, and City Fitness. This southern stretch of Frankford Ave. has continued its growth with the development of new residential and retail units.

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New construction at Frankford and Norris. Rumor has it that a real estate office is moving into the first modern building on the left.

Over the last five or so years, we have really seen development push northward on Frankford Ave. The intersection of Frankford Ave. and Norris St. has become the epicenter of development and commercial activity on the northern stretch of Frankford Ave. in Fishtown. We have basically seen the whole western side of Frankford Ave. between Berks St. and Norris St. redeveloped over the last several years. We have seen multiple mixed use buildings rise from Norris all the way up past York St. We recently brought you the 95 unit mixed-use project under development on Norris between Frankford Ave. and Front St. More residential and commercial units are continuing to be added to this stretch of Frankford Ave., and we do not see it slowing down anytime soon with multiple projects under construction and in the pipeline.

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Mr. Monopoly mural on the car wash

It looks like another large project may be on the horizon. A car wash has stood on the 8,640 square foot CMX-2 zoned corner lot at 1868-74 Frankford Ave. for as long as we can remember. The car wash always seemed to be busy over the years and the building has sported some pretty cool street art. Mr. Monopoly may have finally caught wind of the development action happening in this section of Fishtown as it looks like the car wash is on its way out.

We initially observed that the car wash closed several months ago, which led us to believe that the property would be redeveloped. However, we now have some more clues that this plan is proceeding. On April 24th, owners of the property secured plumbing permits to seal the lateral sewer line. The lateral line is the pipe that connects a building to the rest of the city’s sewage system under the street. Before a demolition permit can be secured, the building must be disconnected from the city grid and the lateral must be sealed. Otherwise, when the building is knocked down, there would be a sewage leak. The owners would not be going to the effort of sealing the lateral if they did not plan on demolishing the building.

Expect to see some digging under the sidewalk surrounding this property soon. After this plumbing work is complete, the developers behind the project will be able to obtain a demolition permit.

A dense mixed-use project can proceed by-right at this location. However, the developers could decide to maximize their investment by pursuing zoning variances and other bonuses that will allow them to build taller and bigger if they believe it is worth the effort. We are currently seeing a 24 unit mixed-use building rise on a 7,132 square foot CMX-2 zoned parcel at Frankford and Jefferson, so we can expect a slightly larger building to replace the car wash.

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The back side of the car wash

As this stretch of Frankford Avenue has added residents and retail businesses over the years, we think a mixed-use building is now more appropriate in this location than a car wash. A car wash is probably better suited these days for an autocentric avenue such as Aramingo. The project’s location is a short walk to the Berks El stop, which will be attractive to future residents. It will also be nice to add a new business to the corridor to support the increased amount of people living in the neighborhood. We hope that the developers create a large commercial space with high ceilings and big windows fronting the street. We do not want to see this chopped into multiple small retail units. Although this stretch of Frankford Avenue is flourishing with new businesses, large commercial spaces are rare in this neck of the woods. It would be nice to have a new anchor tenant in this section of Fishtown. What business would you like to see open here?

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