Community Post

Renovations under way at old Philly’s, but no tenant yet

If you’ve walked past 23rd & Union recently, you may have noticed a lot of activity inside the old Philly’s building on the corner. Nora did and asked an excellent question in the comments last week: “What’s happening at the Philly spot?”

We spoke to Ian Eisenberg, the new owner of the building, who said that the building was in really bad shape. A leaking roof, a rodent problem, and “plumbing havoc” would make it very difficult for a small business to get started there. The work going on now will put everything into clean, working order, hopefully making it easier to find someone to occupy the long-vacant structure.

Ian told us that he’s primarily looking for “neighborhoody” restaurant tenants, including healthy fast food operators.

Over the longer-term the property is eyed for a larger mixed-use development. But that won’t come until the economy turns around, and after Jim Mueller’s delayed development across the street gets the green light and starts a long-anticipated renaissance at the intersection.

0 thoughts on “Renovations under way at old Philly’s, but no tenant yet

  1. Graceland – I thought I would wait for a new tenant to decide on the signage. I assume they will want to put their own sign around roof.

    Me – What do you mean “no one wants to set up shop?” Why steam roll it?

  2. The reason to change the signs or bulldoze the place is because when people see the site now they are inevitably reminded of the fact that someone was murdered there. It’s not a place that inspires good feelings.

  3. I hope that you are not correct. Hopefully a future tenant and customers can see past some of the negativity that has taken place inside the building. For that matter, I hope that people from other parts of the city can see past some of the bad things that have happened around that corner and neighborhood in general and share in a vision of urban rebirth. People do bad things not physical structures. Bulldozing the building and having another inner city empty lot would not do anyone any good. Just my 2 cents.

  4. I agree with you Ian, but the problem is that the Philly place looks exactly the same as the day of the murder, so people can’t help but be reminded of it. Same signs, same structure, and the phrase “Philly Murder” is stuck in our heads because of the media coverage, and it was a very shocking crime that nobody can forget.

    I live close by and I really want that corner to be re-developed and made into a good place.

  5. You just might be right. I will look into removing that sign. Despite good intentions, it is a little depressing constantly being reminded of bad past events.

  6. yes, the sign is a big old reminder. I would clean it up, change the look, simplify it. spend a little $ and hire a good architect with a vision. Ask, colaborate with the developer across the street what his vision is eventually for his development and maybe work together. its all worth imporvement. that corner could use some positive ju ju… i wish you luck and hope for a good tenant!

  7. I’ve always thought a Pho place would fit well there – cheap, wholesome fare. Maybe the Than Brothers would be interested if a sweet lease deal was tossed their way.

  8. My household is pulling for you Ian. Hoping you find a good tenant and a good service is provided to the neighborhood. We will try and support it as much as possible.

  9. How many of us live in 90+ year old houses that more-than-likely have had births and deaths happen in them? Get over your drama and support your community. We all go to sleep at night and choose to not think about what has happened under our own roofs. Almost any business that goes in there will clean up the corner and be good for the community. It’s not easy to start a business and bitching about the signs out front while STILL under construction is NOT supporting those that dare to invest in our ‘hood. Seriously?!?!

  10. I’m with you, cd. Sometimes it sounds like people think the building is haunted. I’d be the first one in there if something I liked went in … pho sounds great.

  11. “Get over your drama and support your community”

    This isn’t the issue we were discussing, CD. We were talking about why the space remains untenanted since the murder, and offering solutions. I support local businesses and would love to see that corner revitalized. The best way to get started on that is to erase the visual reminders of the Philly murder.

  12. I agree a good pho shop would be great to have in the neighborhood. I always have supported what ever was there even back to KCF.

  13. I would love to get a pho restaurant operator in there. Than Borthers is awesome – especially the little cream puffs – YUM :) :) If any of you know someone there it would be a great connection.

  14. cd, Spiffy D is right. Nobody is bitching. Spiffy brought up a good point about the signs and posted it. Whether or not you agree with it is not the point. I think it was a valuable comment and Ian is listening as is obvious from his following comment. What Ian chooses to do with the sign is up to him but I think it is helpful to get a perspective on the fact that the signage does evoke some grim reminders for some–not for all but for some. This is really helpful information. Thanks for listening to the ideas, Ian. Best of luck to you– love how you seem very receptive to the group’s input.

  15. Thanks Kathleen. I love the fact that those on this site are interested enough in the future of the neighborhood to spend the time and energy posting their opinions. When we started investing in the neighborhood it realy bugged me how many of my friends and especially neighborhood locals asked “why?” as if they had already written off the area forever. Negativity fosters more negative things…..

    Regarding the sign, it looks like removing it will just expose the lights underneath to vandalism. Unfortunately it looks like the sign will have to stay up until a new tenant can be secured.

  16. oh CD -it would have been nice to hear your positive suggestions for Ian rather than your post of irrelevant criticism -not surprising really…. PS – Pho would be fab!

  17. I LOVE the mural on the wall behind. Please don’t remove THAT! Not that I have heard that you intend to, I’m just saying…

    Keep up the good work Ian!

  18. I think the reason there hasn’t been a tenant for a LONG time is that the previous owner was selling the site as a development opportunity. Most developers do not want a long term tenant that limits their short term options for developement. Then the recession happened…We want a tenant and perhaps develop the corner (likely muli-family w/retail) in 5 to 10 years. But before the space could be rented to anyone, the building really needed some general maintanance/clean up – which is being done now. Momney had to be sunk into it before anyone could use it. I think everyone agrees the corner is changing and will continue to change, it is just a matter of when. I guess my point is that this is the reason there is no tenant, not that the building itself is cursed or has bad juju.

    Personally I dig the mural, but it has been tagged so many times it is nuts. It is like a magnet for taggers and then the building itself gets tagged. We have to clean the building and paint over the mural tags. Any ideas on a new mural or if possible fixing up the old one??????? Scott I can’t wait to read the coming story on the mural.

  19. I can say for certain as a local that every day we drive by and often say out loud, “of course no one wants to rent that place, it still says Philly’s on it, and everyone remembers those *2* tragic events happened there. Sure, many of you live in houses with histories, but none like that!

    Ian, honestly, I am not in the mindset of a potential commercial tenant, but it seems to me that even painting the signage a solid color that removed the reference would at least improve the “aura” of that corner and attract other potential clients. A coat of cover up is likely worth the cost.

  20. Just driving by the other day and both me and my wife said “remove the sign!” Paint over it or something. Yes, it’s merely psychological, but sometimes that’s what it takes. Ask any “flipper.” Good luck. Would love to see some more eating options in the neighborhood. And if it’s healthy, they might not have to hire armed security guards!

  21. CP – I am have been called many things but never a “flipper.” Just kidding, but there is no intention of just sprucing up property and immediately “flipping” it. We are excited about long term prospects for the area.

  22. A couple of thoughts as I read through the comments. First, there are many places in the city where a crime or murder has taken place that have reopened (some as the same business, some as new businesses) that are successful. It’s not a unique situation. What about the coffee shop in Lakewood where the 4 police were murdered? It’s back in business. Second, I didn’t live in the neighborhood when the murder happened, so I don’t have that memory of the crime, or any of the history associated with it. When I drive past, I see a vacant building. I’m sure there are other residents like me. Lastly, it’s so easy to pass judgement or comment based only on our view and insight on a situation. If you don’t have hard-earned money, sweat or tears invested in the property you don’t understand how financially crippling it is to own a property without a tenant. It seems like Mr. Eisenberg is taking the positive and necessary steps that a business person would take to make a property appealing. And having a prosperous and reputable business on that corner would do a lot to turn things around. Just because he might not be taking the steps you would take, or in the order you would take them doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

  23. Hi Ian,

    Sorry, In no way did I mean to imply you are a flipper! Sorry it came out that way. Just trying to highlight the big psychological shift a small cosmetic change can make. We live at 25th and Howell and salute your courage at tackling this troubled piece of property. I hope it can be a vibrant part of the community at some point (and not just for trouble makers). Best of luck!

  24. There is some movement afoot to redesign the traffic on 23rd — make it into a boulevard with a center green strip and one lane in each direction. The Philly site would certainly benefit if the street were more attractive — as well as from some cosmetic improvements to the building (get rid of that ugly sign). The gas station actually looks well-tended. They bother to plant flowers and pick up the litter.

  25. When I sit in my car waiting for the street light to turn green, I look and always repeat the same thing, “that poor man died trying to earn a decent living.” First I see the signs, then I look inside. Then I’d ask, “who’s going to move in and do business in there”? Sadly the day after the murderer’s sentencing, the windows were tagged. I cringed. I would put up a neighborhood friendly under construction sign that offers us in the community a positive message. Good luck.