The Croydon, the large, conspicuous vacant structure in the middle of the Walnut Hill neighborhood of West Philadelphia, is being renovated into apartments by Orens Brothers Real Estate. This renovation has been a long time in coming, as the eight-storey apartment building has sat vacant at 49th & Locust Streets for a long time. Croydon Hall, as it was originally called, was built in the 1920s, along with numerous other brick apartment buildings in Walnut Hill during a building boom at that time. While most of the other apartment buildings in the neighborhood remained inhabited and have slowly been renovated over the years, The Croydon sat vacant so long that it had become a popular hang-out for counter-culture squatter hobos, and was known as “Paradise City” among that crowd. It had, also, become a symbol of blight in West Philadelphia and was even included in a negative commercial by the mayoral campaign of Sam Katz in 2003. So, after changing ownership a couple times in recent years, the renovation of The Croydon by Orens Brothers is another welcome improvement to another neighborhood on the edge of the city’s downtown.
The Croydon will have 127 upscale one, two, and three bedroom apartments in the building, which has an eight-storey main hall and two four-storey wings on either side of that main hall to the north and south, with the front entrance on 49th Street. Imbetween the main hall and it’s wings are small courtyards that will be renovated and landscaped with gardens. The apartment units will be marketed for students, as usual, but the neighborhood has been attracting more and more middle class residents and has a solid community of lower middle-class, working class residents. The Croydon is just around the corner from the former West Philadelphia High School, built in 1911, that is about to be renovated into apartments, as well, and it is around the corner and two blocks down from the new West Philadelphia High School building, which is attracting increased interest in the neighborhood among the middle class (my 2011 article about the new high school building is my most popular article ever, likely because upwardly mobile working class parents are thinking about moving into the neighborhood as a way to send their kids to the new West Philadelphia High School as a stepping stone to college).
This renovation is a big step forward for the Walnut Hill neighborhood, which has been a little depressed in recent years. The abandoned Croydon building made the neighborhood look more depressed, which probably scared off residents and investment, but renovating this large building will make the neighborhood look prosperous again and might encourage a new building boom, like the one in the 1920s, and like the ones happening in other West Philadelphia neighborhoods in University City. Just blocks away, they’re building apartment buildings at 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue, 43rd and Sansom Streets, and likely soon at 42nd & Chestnut Streets and 41st & Walnut Streets. University City is seeing such a building boom of academic, medical, and office space that there is likely to be strong demand for apartments among workers and students alike. And just three blocks west, 52nd Street, West Philadelphia’s “main street”, is undergoing renovations and soon a streetscape improvement project that could make 52nd Street popular with middle-class residents of The Croydon and the Walnut Hill neighborhood. Walnut Hill is seeing new development, like a lot of neighborhoods on the edge of downtown, and the long-overdue renovation of The Croydon, once a conspicuous symbol of blight, could be a turning point for the neighborhood and the center of West Philadelphia.
If you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in West Philadelphia, or anywhere else in the city, please contact me at Gabriel.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Long & Foster agent portal, my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE. You can learn more about our Long & Foster Philly Center City office, here. And, you can check out this link, about The Croydon, from the Orens Brothers website and view my pictures of the building and the neighborhood, below.