G-Ho High Five

July 17, 2013 | by Bradley Maule


A view anew on Grays Ferry Avenue | Image courtesy of Plumbob LLC & 2300 South Street Association LP

A view anew on Grays Ferry Avenue | Image courtesy of Plumbob LLC & 2300 South Street Association LP

This evening in G-Ho, developers will introduce plans for a modern five-story retail and apartment building on the corner of 23rd and South Streets, with a design from the architecture firm Plumbob.

Newman Galleries' South Street studio | Photo: Rob Lybeck

Newman Galleries’ South Street studio | Photo: Rob Lybeck

Currently a parking lot, a former theater, and the Newman Galleries conservation, restoration, and framing studio, the property sold in April for one million dollars to a 2300 South Street Association LP. The limited partnership is headed by Jason Nusbaum, owner of City Living Philly, Rittenhouse Market (formerly Great Scot’s Rittenhouse Market) and South Square Market.

Wrapping in a triangular fashion from South Street to 23rd Street to Grays Ferry Avenue—just across the street from where the three converge at the recently reactivated Catharine Thorn Fountain—the first floor would feature 4,600 square feet of retail space, suitable for two or three storefronts. The upper floors would have 24 one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. Thirty-two bicycle parking spaces, eight outside and 24 in the basement, would also be included.

Way before and way after: top image from 1953 from >a href="">; bottom photo courtesy of Plumbob LLC and 2300 South Street Association LP. Note Catharine Thorn Fountain in each

Way before and way after: top image from 1953 from; bottom photo courtesy of Plumbob LLC and 2300 South Street Association LP. Note Catharine Thorn Fountain in each. (Click to enlarge.)

At five stories, the development would be slightly taller than most recent developments in the neighborhood, including the nearby Odunde headquarters and Naval Square townhouses. Proposed at 58′, 2300 South would be 20 feet higher than the 38′ currently allowed by right, thereby requiring a zoning variance. A demolition permit would also need to be pulled for the handsome, but not historically protected, two-story building which fronts both South Street and Grays Ferry Avenue. Though it resembles a firehouse, the Grays Ferry portion of the building was once home to a theater.

Led by Howard Steinberg and Timothy McDonald, Plumbob is the architectural component of Onion Flats’ development/design/build collective. Their five-story design would bring contemporary architecture to a neighborhood flush with new development but saddled with trite, imitative design. “[Plumbob’s design] is our way of contributing to the ongoing improvement of the neighborhood,” says Nusbaum, whose South Square Market sits diagonally across the street from the property, and itself has improved steadily since Nusbaum’s purchase in 1998.

Neighborhood chatter has led to speculation of a Starbucks deal for the first floor retail space. Similar rumors saw Starbucks moving in at locations currently occupied by The Igloo frozen dessert shop and Dollar General. Of this rumor, Nusbaum says, “I have no doubt that a Starbucks would be successful, but it would be putting the cart before the horse to market to any retail before we even have [zoning] approvals.”

The South of South Neighborhood Association’s Zoning Committee meets at the Shiloh Baptist Church, 2040 Christian Street, at 7pm this evening. The 2300 South Street plan is the first item on the agenda. For more info, visit the SOSNA web site HERE.


About the Author

Bradley Maule Bradley Maule is a former co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland (Oregon), Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.


  1. CUP says:

    People mostly seem to call it SWCC these days. That is an unscientific estimate of how many times I\’ve heard it called SWCC versus how many times someone has called it \”GHO.\”

  2. Rob Lybeck says:

    Due to the lack of parking and height/space issues, a vote on Jason Nusbaum\’s
    rental project was postponed until next months SOSNA meeting.

  3. Astralmilkman says:

    I guess I\’m old……. What the hell is G HO ?

  4. Greg Meckstroth says:

    The development as shown above faced huge opposition last night at the SOSNA Zoning Committee meeting. For every person that showed support for the project there were 10 who hated it. The Committee had to limit public comment because so many people lined up to express their feelings. The main issue was the height, and parking was secondary, albeit still a big concern.

    The developer did a great job selling it as a transit-oriented development project and the need to make it a special \’gateway\’ building, but those things seemed to fall on deaf ears. For a neighborhood within walking distance of the center of the 5th biggest city in the country, it is amazing to hear so many people express their entitlement on ultra-convenient parking.

    1. Veillantif says:

      Welcome to the neighborhood of \”no.\”

  5. WeBuiltThisCity says:

    I want to personally request that every person who opposes 5 story buildings on commercial corridors move out of the City and never come back.

  6. Veillantif says:

    It seems bizarre that South is only zoned to 38\’ in the first place. It\’s the main drag in the neighborhood! There\’s a reason buildings on the main drag should be taller than they are on, say, Kater or Naudain.

  7. Guest says:

    Can this article be re written by someone who knows architecture like Nathaniel Popkin? Extremely bland and unimaginative. If this is what passes for \”pizzazz\” we are in big trouble as city.

    1. All of us at Hidden City were surprised when we received the renderings for this project. We were led to believe, based on various reasons, that the architecture would be imaginative, progressive, interesting. So Brad wrote the article with that expectation in mind based on sources, all the while we waited for the renderings from the developer. Despite what you correctly identify as a bland building, we went with our initial framework for the story when we received the renderings–even as it is, it’s still a bit better than many other projects in that neighborhood. Perhaps we shouldn’t have–it was a split second judgment call–as so many of these things are. This is not a matter of Brad not knowing architecture–he knows it better than just about anyone else.

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