The Callowhill neighborhood is loaded with potential, and it's definitely heading in the right direction, but there are still some areas that look pretty awful. The point where Ridge Avenue hits Callowhill Street is one such location, with some old warehouses, a tire store that tried to dress itself up with a mural, some vacant land, and a surface parking lot.
It's been a few years since our last visit to the 1200 block of Carpenter Street, an unusual Hawthorne block in that the south side is covered entirely by a playground and the Hawthorne Cultural Center while the north side of this block is dominated by 1241 Carpenter Studios, a collection of artist studios located in a former belt manufacturing building. Despite these factors, developers were building a triplex on the block when we visited last, and with that building long finished we believe they're renting out the units. Next door to the newish triplex is a double wide 2,500 sqft parcel that's mostly empty but for a small one-story garage.
North side of the street
As you can see in the image above, the owners of this property have been marketing it for sale. And perhaps you can also see that the building has a zoning notice posted, so it's probably a safe bet that they've found somebody that wants to buy it. Looking at the zoning application, we see that the potential buyers want to construct a new building here that rises up to 60' and includes six apartment units. Interestingly, last summer, another proposal came through for this property for a quadplex with two-car parking, but it got withdrawn from the ZBA. We don't go to many community meetings in Hawthorne, perhaps someone who lives in the neighborhood can explain the change in plans? Also, wouldn't you think that neighbors would prefer fewer units with parking, rather than more units and no parking? Of course, the industrial zoning for the property doesn't help anybody.
Want to buy a home in East Kensington? We've got good news and bad news. The good news is that the neighborhood has improved by leaps and bounds and is pretty much better than it's ever been. The bad news is that home prices have gone up as the neighborhood has developed, and projects are happening deeper into the neighborhood, ever closer to Lehigh Avenue. Remember, just a few weeks ago, we told you about the Avenue 30 project, a thirty home development which will have some frontage on Lehigh. Wow.
So it should come as no surprise that we have news about plans for four new homes at 2130 E. Albert St., with two new homes fronting Albert Street and two new homes for Harold Street. Harold Street is a mixed bag to be polite, with one side of the street dominated by a large warehouse that may or may not be in use, and the other side a collection of two-story homes. The proposed homes are planned for the side with the two-story homes, 'natch.
It was just a few months ago that we told you about Chinatown Square, the food court concept planned for 1016 Race St. in a space that was home to Shanghai Bazaar for many years. At the time, it looked as though the place needed a ton of additional work, a rough reality after it had already missed its original expected opening date of February, 2016. So we were at least a little bit surprised to learn that Chinatown Square celebrated its grand opening shortly before the first of the year. We are constantly hungry, so we figured we'd check it out.
When developers built a row of five new homes on the 1900 block of Alter Street a few years ago, they were none too pleased with the aesthetic across the street, where the back of a Washington Avenue warehouse presented views of a mostly blank brick wall. So they decided to paint a mural on the wall, creating the image of five row homes, in an effort to make the half industrial block feel a little more welcoming. We should probably mention that OCF Realty, our parent company and the listing agents for the project, were involved as well.
1900 block of Alter Street
But change is inexorable, and it was a sure thing that this mural, which we loved when it first appeared, would eventually see some alterations. If you visit this block today, you'll not only see that a couple additional (real) homes have appeared, like the new home at 1922 Alter St. in the photo above, but that the mural has undergone a few changes. YD Hardwood, located on the side of the wall, has poked some holes in the mural and has filled in some others. Take a look: