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Looking For a Project? Here Are Fifteen Great Candidates for Adaptive Reuse in Philadelphia

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Last week, Curbed put together a map highlighting 10 examples of effective adaptive reuse that eradicated blight and breathed new life into a wide range of outdated buildings here in Philadelphia. This week we're taking a look at 15 underutilized and decaying structures across the city that are prime contenders for reuse. A few may surprise you.

People wanted their own piece of the American Dream after World War II. The automobile was affordable, highway systems were new, industry began to decline, and many longed for white picket fences in quiet neighborhoods. Herein lies the recipe for middle class suburbanization that ravaged the inner city in the 1950s.

Many of these 15 selections are victims of that era. Countless factories, warehouses, schools, and churches are wasting away across the nation. As we mentioned last week, sometimes it is more cost-efficient to alter an existing property rather than razing it completely, and Philadelphia has no shortage of options for developers.

That being said, multi-story warehouses and factories are typically the best candidates for adaptive reuse thanks to their reinforced walls and columns, flat roofs, open floorplans, and large windows. These structures make for great apartments, offices, and performance/gallery spaces. The bulk of these industrial buildings are spread across North Philadelphia.

Churches, on the other hand, tend to have distinct architectural quirks that can make it difficult to properly repurpose the interior space. The issues of proper lighting and temperature control can be creative challenges, but a successful church rehab can often be a sight to behold (just take a look at the Selexyz Dominicanen). Regardless, churches are great candidates for residences, office spaces, nightclubs, and restaurants.

As you look through this map, consider the neighborhoods our selections lie within. Some are on the way up, others are seemingly forgotten. Imagine what the right developer with the right project could mean for the community. And feel free to sound off with your own ideas in the comments.

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1. Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church

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1020 East Price Street
Philadelphia, PA 19138

Significance: This Romanesque beauty has been a neighborhood landmark since its construction in 1927. The interior isn't as ornate as the Assumption or St. Boniface, but it provides a TON of space.

Failed Plans: None; this church was closed in 2012 due to declining attendance and still stands in pretty decent shape.

Candidate For: Event space, library, restaurants. The sky is the limit with a building like this. It just depends on what the neighborhood is willing to support.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

2. Budd Industrial Complex

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2401 West Hunting Park Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19129

Significance: Closed in 2002 after 85 years in operation as a manufacturing plant for auto/rail parts. The complex is MASSIVE (2.4 million sq ft) but sits vacant as a reminder of Philadelphia's industrial past.

Failed Plans: The failed Budd Commerce Center proposal (2004) would have rehabbed the property as offices, retail, residential, and manufacturing facilities. The right plan could generate big changes for the neighborhood.

Candidate For: Vocational training campus and/or offices. The bad news? A new developer purchased the complex in March 2011 and currently owes more than $321,000 in property taxes.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

3. Ford Motor Company / Botany 500 Building

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2700 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19132

Significance: It started as a Ford manufacturing plant, became a production facility for men's suits, and now stands vacant at Broad & Lehigh. This colossal building is visible in photos of the old Baker Bowl stadium where Babe Ruth played his final game just across the street.

Failed Plans: None; seen as being too expensive to redevelop and too expensive to demolish.

Candidate For: Student housing or commercial headquarters. This would make a lot of sense for Temple University to redevelop, considering its proximity to the campus and transit lines.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

4. John F. Kennedy Center for Vocational Education

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734 Schuylkill Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Significance: Originally built in 1941 as a World War II tank factory before being converted into the JFK Center for Vocational Education in the 1960s, it's been abandoned for about a decade right behind the newly-redeveloped Naval Square condo complex.

Failed Plans: A 2005 proposal called "South Bridge" would have repurposed the building to hold 200+ residential units, office space, retail storefronts, an internal parking garage, and 32 additional rooftop homes. Basically a small city in one building.

Candidate For: Exactly as described above. The sheer size of this building (720,000 sq ft) actually limits the avenues for reuse. The building is insanely strong, and it sure would be nice to see it serve a purpose again.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

5. Pyramid Electric Supply Co. Warehouse

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3101 West Glenwood Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Significance: Oddly shaped and abandoned for decades, but located in the up-and-coming Brewerytown neighborhood.

Failed Plans: Originally part of the Brewerytown Square development project, this building was approved for conversion into loft apartments just nine months ago but no further progress has been made.

Candidate For: Residences, coworking studio space.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

6. Germantown High School

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40 East High Street
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Significance: Operated for 99 years before falling victim to severe budget cuts that forced 23 closures in June 2013. Comedian Bill Cosby attended Germantown High before dropping out and enlisting in the Army in 1956.

Failed Plans: None yet, but the community will be intimately involved in the process to determine a buyer and strategy for reuse.

Candidate For: Community center, museum space, retirement community.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

7. Steel Heddle Manufacturing Co. Complex

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2100 West Allegheny Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19132

Significance: Built in 1919 and closed in 1971, the Steel Heddle plant landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 and would qualify for historic tax credits, taking some of the burden off the cost of renovation / adaptive reuse.

Failed Plans: None; abandoned for decades.

Candidate For: Offices and/or residences. But the Allegheny West neighborhood has a long way to go and needs to show signs of revitalization first.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

8. Pier 98

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South Delaware Avenue & Oregon Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Significance: Formerly used as an Army terminal for transporting military vehicles and features two berths that jut out 1,300 feet into the Delaware River.

Failed Plans: None, but the Mummers used to build their floats here in the 1980s. This is owned by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and shrouded in mystery in an area where few choose to venture.

Candidate For: Anything and everything. Chicago has a similar pier that is being redeveloped with entertainment space, retail, restaurants, and parks. Highly unlikely, but really fun to think about.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

9. Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament

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5600 Chester Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Significance: Built in 1924 and closed in 2007, it's a local landmark in the Kingsessing neighborhood and doesn't appear to need many renovations.

Failed Plans: None yet.

Candidate For: Offices, residences. The spacious interior would even make for a good theater.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

10. Quaker City Dye Works

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100 West Oxford Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Significance: Built in 1875 and was once the largest dyeworks operation in Philadelphia. Located just a few blocks away from the Piazza, 3rd Ward, and the rest of Kensington/Fishtown's growing creative community.

Failed Plans: None; this property has been largely ignored and recently vacated by a lamp design company.

Candidate For: A new plan is brewing today that aims to transform the two buildings into apartment units, offices, restaurants, green space, and parking. It sounds like it'd be the Piazza v2.0, which would be a big improvement over its current state.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

11. Third Regiment Armory

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1221 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Significance: Used as a National Guard depot for a century before falling into disrepair over the last two decades.

Failed Plans: Purchased by the Tolentine Community Center in 2003 but property restrictions combined with structural damage proved redevelopment impossible.

Candidate For: Residences. A redevelopment plan is in place to demolish the entire structure in favor of a brand new 50-unit apartment complex complete with a green roof deck. It sounds like this project will move forward, but the building stands for now, albeit loaded with asbestos.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

12. Red Bell Brewing Co.

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1500 North 31st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19121

Significance: Red Bell Brewing is long gone, but the building itself still has potential. It looks like a less-curvaceous version of the Alamo at first glance.

Failed Plans: None; it actually hasn't been abandoned for very long despite its appearance. The bad news is that there are over $440,000 in tax delinquencies on the property.

Candidate For: Brewpub, restaurant. Why not bring a big brewery back to Brewerytown? It's adjacent to the Pyramid Electric Company Building and one block north of Brewerytown Square, so the potential is there for the right developer.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

13. Umbrella Factory

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1401 North 5th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Significance: Ten stories and 178,000 square feet of manufacturing space that has been vacant for way too long.

Failed Plans: A 2006 proposal to convert the building into luxury condominiums seems to have been shot down, as the developer was apparently unwilling to sign a community benefits agreement.

Candidate For: Residences, event space. It should be tied in with the neighborhood arts community.

(Photo courtesy PhillyShark)

14. Heid Building

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323 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Significance: Former envelope factory within Center City boundaries and a mere stone's throw away from the future Reading Viaduct Park.

Failed Plans: None yet, but this area will boom with development once the viaduct project gets underway.

Candidate For: Residential lofts, creative studio space.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

15. Beneficial Savings Fund Society Building

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1200 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Significance: Built in 1916 by famed Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer and formerly served as Beneficial's headquarters.

Failed Plans: A 2010 proposal called "1200 Bank" would have converted the building into a restaurant and billiard hall, complete with an open roof deck for the evening crowd. Evidently, the neighbors were concerned about noise and the plans fell apart.

Candidate For: Offices, retail, restaurants. Its location at 12th & Chestnut makes it prime real estate for commerce and entertainment.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

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1. Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church

1020 East Price Street, Philadelphia, PA 19138

Significance: This Romanesque beauty has been a neighborhood landmark since its construction in 1927. The interior isn't as ornate as the Assumption or St. Boniface, but it provides a TON of space.

Failed Plans: None; this church was closed in 2012 due to declining attendance and still stands in pretty decent shape.

Candidate For: Event space, library, restaurants. The sky is the limit with a building like this. It just depends on what the neighborhood is willing to support.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

1020 East Price Street
Philadelphia, PA 19138

2. Budd Industrial Complex

2401 West Hunting Park Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19129

Significance: Closed in 2002 after 85 years in operation as a manufacturing plant for auto/rail parts. The complex is MASSIVE (2.4 million sq ft) but sits vacant as a reminder of Philadelphia's industrial past.

Failed Plans: The failed Budd Commerce Center proposal (2004) would have rehabbed the property as offices, retail, residential, and manufacturing facilities. The right plan could generate big changes for the neighborhood.

Candidate For: Vocational training campus and/or offices. The bad news? A new developer purchased the complex in March 2011 and currently owes more than $321,000 in property taxes.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

2401 West Hunting Park Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19129

3. Ford Motor Company / Botany 500 Building

2700 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19132

Significance: It started as a Ford manufacturing plant, became a production facility for men's suits, and now stands vacant at Broad & Lehigh. This colossal building is visible in photos of the old Baker Bowl stadium where Babe Ruth played his final game just across the street.

Failed Plans: None; seen as being too expensive to redevelop and too expensive to demolish.

Candidate For: Student housing or commercial headquarters. This would make a lot of sense for Temple University to redevelop, considering its proximity to the campus and transit lines.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

2700 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19132

4. John F. Kennedy Center for Vocational Education

734 Schuylkill Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19146

Significance: Originally built in 1941 as a World War II tank factory before being converted into the JFK Center for Vocational Education in the 1960s, it's been abandoned for about a decade right behind the newly-redeveloped Naval Square condo complex.

Failed Plans: A 2005 proposal called "South Bridge" would have repurposed the building to hold 200+ residential units, office space, retail storefronts, an internal parking garage, and 32 additional rooftop homes. Basically a small city in one building.

Candidate For: Exactly as described above. The sheer size of this building (720,000 sq ft) actually limits the avenues for reuse. The building is insanely strong, and it sure would be nice to see it serve a purpose again.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

734 Schuylkill Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19146

5. Pyramid Electric Supply Co. Warehouse

3101 West Glenwood Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19121

Significance: Oddly shaped and abandoned for decades, but located in the up-and-coming Brewerytown neighborhood.

Failed Plans: Originally part of the Brewerytown Square development project, this building was approved for conversion into loft apartments just nine months ago but no further progress has been made.

Candidate For: Residences, coworking studio space.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

3101 West Glenwood Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19121

6. Germantown High School

40 East High Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Significance: Operated for 99 years before falling victim to severe budget cuts that forced 23 closures in June 2013. Comedian Bill Cosby attended Germantown High before dropping out and enlisting in the Army in 1956.

Failed Plans: None yet, but the community will be intimately involved in the process to determine a buyer and strategy for reuse.

Candidate For: Community center, museum space, retirement community.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

40 East High Street
Philadelphia, PA 19144

7. Steel Heddle Manufacturing Co. Complex

2100 West Allegheny Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19132

Significance: Built in 1919 and closed in 1971, the Steel Heddle plant landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 and would qualify for historic tax credits, taking some of the burden off the cost of renovation / adaptive reuse.

Failed Plans: None; abandoned for decades.

Candidate For: Offices and/or residences. But the Allegheny West neighborhood has a long way to go and needs to show signs of revitalization first.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

2100 West Allegheny Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19132

8. Pier 98

South Delaware Avenue & Oregon Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19148

Significance: Formerly used as an Army terminal for transporting military vehicles and features two berths that jut out 1,300 feet into the Delaware River.

Failed Plans: None, but the Mummers used to build their floats here in the 1980s. This is owned by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and shrouded in mystery in an area where few choose to venture.

Candidate For: Anything and everything. Chicago has a similar pier that is being redeveloped with entertainment space, retail, restaurants, and parks. Highly unlikely, but really fun to think about.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

South Delaware Avenue & Oregon Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148

9. Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament

5600 Chester Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143

Significance: Built in 1924 and closed in 2007, it's a local landmark in the Kingsessing neighborhood and doesn't appear to need many renovations.

Failed Plans: None yet.

Candidate For: Offices, residences. The spacious interior would even make for a good theater.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

5600 Chester Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143

10. Quaker City Dye Works

100 West Oxford Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Significance: Built in 1875 and was once the largest dyeworks operation in Philadelphia. Located just a few blocks away from the Piazza, 3rd Ward, and the rest of Kensington/Fishtown's growing creative community.

Failed Plans: None; this property has been largely ignored and recently vacated by a lamp design company.

Candidate For: A new plan is brewing today that aims to transform the two buildings into apartment units, offices, restaurants, green space, and parking. It sounds like it'd be the Piazza v2.0, which would be a big improvement over its current state.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

100 West Oxford Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

11. Third Regiment Armory

1221 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Significance: Used as a National Guard depot for a century before falling into disrepair over the last two decades.

Failed Plans: Purchased by the Tolentine Community Center in 2003 but property restrictions combined with structural damage proved redevelopment impossible.

Candidate For: Residences. A redevelopment plan is in place to demolish the entire structure in favor of a brand new 50-unit apartment complex complete with a green roof deck. It sounds like this project will move forward, but the building stands for now, albeit loaded with asbestos.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

1221 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

12. Red Bell Brewing Co.

1500 North 31st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19121

Significance: Red Bell Brewing is long gone, but the building itself still has potential. It looks like a less-curvaceous version of the Alamo at first glance.

Failed Plans: None; it actually hasn't been abandoned for very long despite its appearance. The bad news is that there are over $440,000 in tax delinquencies on the property.

Candidate For: Brewpub, restaurant. Why not bring a big brewery back to Brewerytown? It's adjacent to the Pyramid Electric Company Building and one block north of Brewerytown Square, so the potential is there for the right developer.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

1500 North 31st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19121

13. Umbrella Factory

1401 North 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Significance: Ten stories and 178,000 square feet of manufacturing space that has been vacant for way too long.

Failed Plans: A 2006 proposal to convert the building into luxury condominiums seems to have been shot down, as the developer was apparently unwilling to sign a community benefits agreement.

Candidate For: Residences, event space. It should be tied in with the neighborhood arts community.

(Photo courtesy PhillyShark)

1401 North 5th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122

14. Heid Building

323 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Significance: Former envelope factory within Center City boundaries and a mere stone's throw away from the future Reading Viaduct Park.

Failed Plans: None yet, but this area will boom with development once the viaduct project gets underway.

Candidate For: Residential lofts, creative studio space.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

323 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

15. Beneficial Savings Fund Society Building

1200 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Significance: Built in 1916 by famed Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer and formerly served as Beneficial's headquarters.

Failed Plans: A 2010 proposal called "1200 Bank" would have converted the building into a restaurant and billiard hall, complete with an open roof deck for the evening crowd. Evidently, the neighbors were concerned about noise and the plans fell apart.

Candidate For: Offices, retail, restaurants. Its location at 12th & Chestnut makes it prime real estate for commerce and entertainment.

(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

1200 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107