Last year, we directed your attention to the 800 block of Percy Street, an incredibly skinny block in Bella Vista with some hidden but significant storm water management infrastructure. We noted that most of the lots on the block only go back about 30 feet, making for shallow homes with tiny rear yards. This was a fairly common condition in South Philly a hundred years ago, but as far as modern development standards are concerned, those are some little homes. That’s why developers combined three lots about a decade ago to build a wide but shallow new home on the northern end of the block. Ordinarily, combining lots isn’t a great approach, because building one big home is rarely more profitable than building two smaller homes. In this case, it was probably the only move that made sense.
It’s possible this project has inspired a copycat just up the street. Developers bought 742 S. 9th St. last year, which they have since completely renovated and sold for $780K. When the developers bought this property, it came with three small properties on Percy Street, two of which were sitting vacant. There was a home at 713 S. Percy St., but they tore it down at some point over the last year.
A couple weeks ago, the developers brought 709-713 Percy St. to the ZBA, with a plan to combine the lots into one and build a single home with a garage. The project was met with support from near neighbors and got a letter of deferral from Bella Vista Neighbors Association, ultimately receiving approval from the ZBA. With that approval now in hand, we expect construction will get moving in the very near future.
We’re just eyeballing it, but we’re pretty sure the 700 block of S. Percy St. is even narrower than the 800 block. So we were pleased to see, noted in the letter to the ZBA from BVNA, that the developers are planning a home with a height and rear setbacks that are consistent with other homes in the neighborhood. In other words, it won’t go up four stories, like the home on the 800 block. Not that we have such a problem with that home, but we can understand why a four story home might give somebody pause on the 700 block. For such a narrow block, four stories would probably be a little much.