3600 Block of Lancaster Avenue
Built: c. 1872, 1880
The south side of the 3600 block of Lancaster Avenue is a nearly intact row of vernacular homes and storefronts built in the 1870s. The properties, which are consolidated as a single parcel, help define the historic character of Powelton Village and, more broadly, West Philadelphia. They also reflect Philadelphia’s post-Civil War expansion and the city’s symbiotic relationship with its outlying suburbs, namely Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the storied Lancaster Turnpike.
Although nearly all of the commercial spaces and residential units are occupied by income-producing tenants, the current owner, AP Construction, has marketed the block to potential buyers as a candidate for demolition and replacement with market-rate housing, primarily catering to students. The company purchased the property, known as Lancaster Mews, for $5.75 million in 2013.
That a structurally sound set of buildings situated on a historic, and rebounding, commercial corridor would be under threat speaks volumes about the development pressure currently at work across Philadelphia. Fortunately, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger directed the Historical Commission to prepare a Historic Register nomination for the block, and the Powelton Village Civic Association took quick action submitting a nomination of its own. Both will be reviewed this summer.
Resources & Links:
- Image of proposed plan for 3600 Lancaster Avenue
- The Philly History Blog: Preservation to Demolition, Why Lancaster Mews Matters
Media Coverage of 3600 Lancaster Avenue:
- “Changing Skyline: In Philadelphia, a historic building is not forever,” Philly.com, April 2, 2016.
- “Eschewing Responsibility At Lancaster Mews,” Hidden City Philadelphia, April 1, 2016.
- “Changing Skyline: Frenzied real estate market makes any buildings a teardown target,” Philly.com, May 2, 2015.
- “Growing Pains in Powelton,” PlanPhilly.com, September 14, 2015.