Ridge Avenue in Francisville has come a long way in recent years, after being largely vacant of retail and having many vacant and dilapidated buildings for years. Several large new apartment buildings have been built and others are being renovated. Ridge Avenue has several noteworthy Gothic Victorian buildings from when it was first developed in the heyday of Francisville’s first boom times, in the mid-nineteenth century. Francisville is in the midst of a 21st century building boom, right now, and Ridge Avenue is starting to catch up to the rest of the rapidly-developing neighborhood.
One of the long-vacant Victorian-era buildings is a former hotel at 1800 Ridge Avenue. It is a four story building, next to an empty lot at the corner of Ridge and Ginnodo Streets. The empty lot had a cavernous farmers market building, which was torn down in 1997. On the other side was a former movie theatre, which had been used as a church recently and then was vacant, and has been recently demolished. The former hotel and the former farmers market were designed in the Victorian Gothic style previously mentioned, with colorful tiles, pointed arch windows, and a wooden bay window. 1800 Ridge had most recently been used as a halfway house, but has been vacant for some time. Now, developer Benny Jaeng, and architect QD Designs, are planning to renovate 1800 Ridge Avenue into an upscale apartment building. The building will have thirteen rental units, ranging in rent from $600 to $700 per month, a real bargain for apartments so close to Center City. The first floor rear will have an ADA-accessible unit, with a ramp entrance on the side. The first floor will have a non-residential space in front with large windows, which could be used as a store or office. All the units will have two bedrooms and one bathroom, except the first floor rear unit, which will have one bedroom and one bathroom. There will be no parking in the building. The wooden bay window will be preserved.
The renovation of 1800 Ridge Avenue will be an impressive enhancement for Ridge Avenue in the upper part of Francisville. It makes it more likely that the neighboring vacant lot will be developed and other nearby vacant buildings will be renovated or replaced. It, also, brings in more residents to help create a market for the new retail businesses, which will eventually fill up the first floor spaces in the many new buildings being built on Ridge Avenue.
By, Gabriel Gottlieb