In February of 2018, a fire ripped through the building at 239 Chestnut St. in Old City. The beautiful 5-story structure, built in 1852, was ravaged by the tragic fire that started in the basement. Several other buildings on the picturesque block of 19th century mixed-use buildings were also damaged from the blaze and subsequent water damage. In February of 2019, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’s investigation determined the fire was a result of arson. Thankfully, no one died during the events, but 239 Chestnut was deemed unsalvageable and had to be demolished. The building held a pizza shop on the ground level and four condo units above. The restaurant and these homes were lost. 239 Chestnut St. is a vacant lot today, and several surrounding properties are still getting rehabbed.
In April of this year, 239 Chestnut St. hit the market for a price of $1.95 million. The price has since dropped to $1.75 million. The listing states that the property has 25 feet of street frontage and a 105 foot lot depth. This brings the total square footage of the CMX-3 zoned property to 2,625 square feet, which would allow for a sizable mixed-use development.
We were devastated by the loss of this building, but are interested in seeing how the property is redeveloped. The first floor cast iron facade was saved before demolition happened. We hope that the new owners incorporate it into whatever is built. We are also curious to see if modern construction techniques can recreate the beauty of the former building. Expenses may prevent the new owners from even attempting to reconstruct something similar. A modern building would stick out like a sore thumb on this block. We hope that any new development is sensitive to its surroundings. What would you like to see happen at this site?
Update 9/11/19: A conceptual rendering has been released for this property. The rendering is a sleek, modern design that we think blends nicely into the historic block. It was produced by KJO Architecture. We do notice that the original cast iron first floor facade, which was saved, is not incorporated in the mockup. The property is still actively on the market for $1.795 million. We are not sure if the rendering will be used to market the property, is purely conceptual, or if it was made for a potential buyer. What do you think of it?
Kyle is a commercial real estate agent at Rittenhouse Realty Advisors, a homeowner, and a real estate investor in Philadelphia. Kyle uses his extensive Philadelphia real estate market knowledge to help his clients buy and sell multifamily investment properties, development opportunities, and industrial sites.
Email Kyle@RittenhouseRealty.com if you are looking to buy or sell a property