Editor’s Note: On Friday, April 27 the demolition of Frankford Chocolate Factory at 2101 Washington Avenue began. The property’s owner, real estate developer and OCF Realty president Ori Feibush, moved quickly to raze the collection of buildings despite mounting concerns over the destruction the historic industrial landmark. (Read the full details of the situation HERE.) Feibush purchased the old factory on April 16 for $15.5 million. The developer plans to clear the lot, save a small corner building and smokestack, and build a five-story residential and retail complex.
The Civil War-era carpet factory was built in 1865. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. A nomination for placement on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, submitted in December last year, is currently in the hands of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. The City’s Committee on Historic Designation unanimously recommended the buildings for designation on April 18. Although the Historical Commission has legal jurisdiction over the property, given that the nomination was submitted before the current owner applied for demolition permits, a public meeting was never held to allow appointed Commission members to assess the property’s historic value and vote on the nomination.
In March, less than a month before Feibush finalized his purchase of the property, the factory was suddenly upgraded from “unsafe” to “imminently dangerous” by the Department of Licenses and Inspections after loose bricks were reported on a nearby sidewalk. Two engineering reports, both paid for by Feibush, claimed that the structure was unstable and dangerous. L&I did not pursue their own independent engineering assessment of the building following the claims. Feibush denied a request from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia to allow an independent engineer to assess the current state of the building.
The following photographs of the interior of Frankford Chocolate Company were taken in August 2012. Although six years have passed, these images illustrate the potential for saving the 153-year-old nationally landmarked historic structure and adapting it for future use.
Inside Frankford Chocolate Factory. Photographs by Rob Masciantonio.