The Croydon, a conspicuous vacant building in West Philadelphia, is being renovated into apartments

rendering of the croydonThe 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 Avenue43rd 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.gottlieb@lnf.com 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.

Rendering of The Croydon when complete

Rendering of The Croydon when complete

The Croydon, seen from 49th & Spruce Streets

The Croydon, seen from 49th & Spruce Streets

The Croydon up close, on 49th Street

The Croydon up close, on 49th Street

Front entrance of The Croydon

Front entrance of The Croydon

The Croydon, from 49th & Locust Streets

The Croydon, from 49th & Locust Streets

Street signs at 49th & Locust Streets

Street signs at 49th & Locust Streets

Looking south down 49th Street

Looking south down 49th Street

Looking north up 49th Street, towards the Market/Frankford El

Looking north up 49th Street, towards the Market/Frankford El

Apartments across 49th Street from The Croydon

Apartments across 49th Street from The Croydon

Looking west down Locust Street

Looking west down Locust Street

The Croydon, seen from 48th Street behind the West Philadelphia High School athletic field

The Croydon, seen from 48th Street behind the West Philadelphia High School athletic field

Closer view of The Croydon, from 48th Street, shows the imposing image of the building

Closer view of The Croydon, from 48th Street, shows the imposing image of the building

The Croydon, before renovation began (courtesy of West Philly Local)

The Croydon, before renovation began (courtesy of West Philly Local)

View of the back of the building, behind the athletic field

View of the back of the building, behind the athletic field

View of The Croydon from 48th & Spruce Streets

View of The Croydon from 48th & Spruce Streets

Retail district at the corner of 48th & Spruce Streets

Retail district at the corner of 48th & Spruce Streets

The Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises, under construction at 48th & Spruce Streets

The Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises, under construction at 48th & Spruce Streets

Pine West Condos, at 48th & Pine Streets

Pine West Condos, at 48th & Pine Streets

Looking east down Spruce Street

Looking east down Spruce Street

The old West Philadelphia High School building is cater-corner to The Croydon

The old West Philadelphia High School building is cater-corner to The Croydon

The old West Philadelphia High School building, at 48th and Walnut Streets, will be renovated into apartments soon

The old West Philadelphia High School building, at 48th and Walnut Streets, will be renovated into apartments soon

Looking east on Walnut Street, towards Center City

Looking east on Walnut Street, towards Center City

Banner announcing Walnut Hill neighborhood

Banner announcing Walnut Hill neighborhood

New West Philadelphia High School, at 49th & Chestnut Streets

New West Philadelphia High School, at 49th & Chestnut Streets

New Karabots Children's Hospital clinic, at 48th & Market Streets

New Karabots Children’s Hospital clinic, at 48th & Market Streets

46th Street El Station, at 46th & Market Streets

46th Street El Station, at 46th & Market Streets

Site of a possible future office building for The Enterprise Center, at 46th & Market Streets

Site of a possible future office building for The Enterprise Center, at 46th & Market Streets

Site of a future apartment building, at 43rd & Sansom Streets

Site of a future apartment building, at 43rd & Sansom Streets

Looking south down 52nd Street, from Market Street El Station

Looking south down 52nd Street, from Market Street El Station

Looking north up 52nd Street, from 52nd & Locust, three blocks west of The Croydon

Looking north up 52nd Street, from 52nd & Locust, three blocks west of The Croydon

About gabrielcgottlieb

I am a real estate agent at Long & Foster Real Estate Center City and someone who likes to write about development and urban planning in the City of Philadelphia. Contact me at Gabriel.gottlieb@LNF.com if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in Philadelphia.
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One Response to The Croydon, a conspicuous vacant building in West Philadelphia, is being renovated into apartments

  1. michael anthony candelaria says:

    Wow! What a difference this project is moving along nicely! I came on as masonry foreman july 1 2013 doing brickpointing and restorations, as well as concrete, and stucco. At the croyden everyone has a job to complete. From the framers, sheetrock, painters,electricians,plumbers,masons, laborers, etc. all working together with one goal in mind,…to get job done in a safe, and timely manner. I couldnt ask to work with a better group of guys! And with mike and mustafa running things progress is paramount! Its also good to know vince and jimmy are always there to help! M.A.C.

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