Demolition “Will Reveal One of the Most Important Development Sites in the City”
There’s a good chance that if you’ve ever gotten off of Exit 349 on 76 East, you’ve noticed the derelict building on the righthand side of the connection to South Broad Street. Hang a right, and you’re a few hundred feet from the NovaCare Complex, Citizen’s Bank Park and the rest of the Sports Complex. The property at 3200 South Broad Street has been vacant for some time now and has seemed primed for redevelopment given all of the action going on at the Navy Yard. It turns out that the initial steps to make that happen have already been set in motion.
Demolition on the three-story structure at Broad and Curtin began in May and Mark R. Nicoletti, vice president at Philadelphia Suburban Development Corporation, the owners of the near four-acre property, told us that its future on South Broad Street is in flux. “At this time, we are still looking at our options and don’t have a set development plan yet,” Nicoletti said in an email. “That said, we are leaning toward Class A office commercial … Regardless, we intend to work closely with the Packer Park neighborhood to determine the best fit”
Nicoletti said that the demolition will be completed this month. Once that happens, “it will reveal one of the most important development sites in the city” given its high visibility and ease of access at the nexus of I-76, I-95, the Walt Whitman Bridge. It’s also not too far from SEPTA’s AT&T Station. “Our location could lend itself to a major health system or senior care operation looking to serve South Jersey, the State of Delaware and the neighboring counties in Pennsylvania.”
In order for the transformation from rundown building to possible office park/healthcare facility to happen, a change in zoning would be needed, notes Nicoletti. Currently, the parcel is zoned residential (RSA-5). “The key would be to set in place the necessary commercial zoning to be able to clearly market the property to sophisticated high credit users.”
According to the ever-handy maps of the Greater Philadelphia Geo History Network, the site used to house the N.Z. Graves Varnish Factory as far back as the maps from 1895. Here’s a shot from 1922 via the Free Library of Philadelphia. Later on, the site became the Southern Home for Children, which provided “residential treatment services for neglected, abused and destitute children,” according to a report in The Inquirer from 1987.