by Sue Ann Rybak
Mt. Airy USA announced last week that renovations on a previously vacant, blighted mixed-use building at 6513 Germantown Ave. are almost finished. The project is the first of four renovations slated for Germantown Avenue. The other three buildings include 6614 Germantown Ave., 6651-53 Germantown Ave. and the vacant historic post office at 6700 Germantown Ave. The post office was originally designed by Lawrence V. Boyd in 1909.
Brad Copeland, real estate director at Mt. Airy USA said the cost of renovating the four properties is estimated at $1.2 million.
“It’s a pretty significant project,” said Anuj Gupta, executive director of Mt. Airy USA. “The blocks that these projects are being done on are still relatively blighted and have high levels of vacancy. We think the combination of these four projects will have a catalyzing effect on transforming this section of the avenue by bringing the progress that has started to emerge from the north to the south.”
Mt. Airy USA received $600,000 in mixed-use grants from the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) pilot program.
The recently renovated mixed-use building at 6513 Germantown Ave. has about 1,800 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor.
Copeland said the building was severely decrepit prior to renovation.
“We actually had to put scaffolding up to support the building before work could begin on the proposed project,” Copeland said.
He added that thanks to the infusion of capital through OHCD’s pilot program and other private organizations the transformation of this section of Germantown Avenue is beginning to bear fruit.
Work on the the historic post office building at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Westview Street is scheduled to begin in a few weeks. Gupta said Mt. Airy USA has already signed a lease with Richard Johnson, who plans to open a Wingstop restaurant this summer at the site of the former post office. Wingstop is a national chain with a sports bar theme that specializes in wings and fries. Gupta said Johnson, who grew up in Mt. Airy, selected Mt. Airy as one of the locations because of its vibrant and diverse business corridor.