Philly YIMBY’s recent visit to 922 North Broad Street in Francisville, North Philadelphia, the site of a planned seven-story, 201-unit mixed-use building, revealed few signs of progress. The former pharmacy building remains standing at the lot, although the shuttered business has been stripped of signage. Demolition cannot arrive soon enough for this promising lot at the southwest corner of North Broad Street and West Girard Avenue. Designed by Coscia Moos Architecture, the future building will be a vast improvement for the site, bringing 134,600 square feet of residential space, 21,760 square feet of commercial space, and 44 parking spaces.
The site sits at one of the most important intersections in North Philadelphia, marking the meeting point of two major thoroughfares and commercial corridors and anchored by the Girard Avenue Station on the Broad Street Line. The location sits within a short walking distance and a five-minute subway commute both to Center City to the south and Temple University to the north, while the route 15 trolley offers a direct commute to Northern Liberties and Fishtown to the east and University City to the west. The Met Philadelphia, a historic opera house repurposed as a grand concert venue in 2018, sits a block to the south.
The suburban-styled CVS Pharmacy at the site was a particularly disappointing waste of an opportunity for such a notable site. The building’s tapestry red brick, projecting white cornice, and hipped roof at the corner set it a step above the average big box store, although its heavy-handed Postmodernism would still feel more at home at a suburban strip mall than at the center of one of America’s largest cities.
The proposed building is a proper replacement for the shuttered retailer, not only because of its dense, pedestrian-friendly program, but also due to its cheery, uplifting appearance. Crisp white panels frame floor-to-ceiling windows in a design gesture that allows for ample sunlight for the units without resorting to a plain glass curtain wall exterior. Yellow accents add a touch of warm sunshine to the buildings, while their sparing use ensures the design does not slip into garish territory.
Vertical columns of chevron bay windows add dimension and physical texture to an otherwise boxy design, both on the surface and at the roof level, where projections rise akin to stylized medieval battlements. Their green coloring rounds off the visual palette while also referencing the green roof and the prominent trees sited atop each section.
If we have any complaints, it would be that the building is not as large as it should have been. The site sits at the junction of Broad Street and Girard Avenue, some of the widest and most important thoroughfares in North Philadelphia, and can thus logically support a much bulkier and/or taller buildings, such as those that stand and are planned several blocks both to the north and south of the site on Broad Street. Furthermore, the highly-desirable, transit-adjacent site would surely generate great interest from university students and Center City commuters alike.
However, for now the former pharmacy continues to waste away in its closed-down state, with its red brick walls accumulating an organically urban patina of graffiti, which, arguably (we know, people tend to feel strongly about the subject one way or another) improves the look of the dismal, anti-pedestrian blank wall.
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Question is do they have demolition permits to take down the shuttered CVS Pharmacy and do they have permits to start construction of the new building. They went through CDR and did the city give them permits to build?
“with its red brick walls accumulating an organically urban patina of graffiti”
lol hoping to see you write lots of photo captions in this style