After months of back and forth

Developers have been working since this past winter, trying to get approval for their plans to transform a vacant East Girard lot at 1142 Crease St., only two blocks beyond Frankford Avenue. They reappeared before the Fishtown Neighbors Association in early July, and got support for their plans to build a four-story building with ground-floor retail and three apartments above. They got approval from the ZBA soon after.

Current view

FNA actually supported a 41' tall version of this project earlier this spring but the ZBA denied the variance. When the developers came back to the community in July with a revised project from Fusa Design (who've been the architects from the beginning), plans simply reflected reduced ceiling heights—as low as eight feet—on each floor, to make for a 38' tall building.

According to FNA zoning chair Matt Karp, a handful of FNA members have gone to ZBA hearings lately. What they've observed is the ZBA keeping close to the zoning code, denying various projects where designs showed a height beyond what code allows. According to Karp, since the 2012 change in the code allowed for four-story homes and raised the permitted height from 35' to 38', the ZBA sticking close to the code has been a steady theme.

Unobstructed views of the El!

Fishtown has lost another vacant lot, but we're not in the mood to mourn. This time it's 546 E. Hewson St. that's left us, with four homes now under construction.

In the past
Four homes now framed out

We actually spotted this project from Norris Street.

View from Norris St.

Developers came before the Fishtown Neighbors Association for this project last summer and got approvals from the ZBA around the same time. It took awhile to get the project moving, but now it seems like things are moving along quite nicely. Oh and they'll have pretty good views of the athletic fields behind Kensington High School. You can even make out the skyline from the front door!

The homes will have green views

We haven't seen listings for the new homes just yet, but expect they'll be in the $400K range, since they don't seem to have parking. Also they're a wee bit skinny compared to some of the other homes we've seen go up nearby.

Want a single family home instead

Last month, developers presented plans for a duplex with off-street parking at 439 Belgrade St. to the community at the monthly Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning meeting and the outcome was a strong vote of 38 in opposition to 21 in support. According to, the owners of this property live next door and the lot has been used for years as a corner parking lot. According to Matt Karp, FNA zoning chair, neighbors want a single-family home here, not a duplex. With a lot that's over 1,300 sqft and considering that the two proposed parking spots wouldn't impact street parking at all, we're not sure we understand why the community opposed the project.

Two big projects have an uncertain future

Cruising along Delaware Avenue away or towards Fishtown, you'll (likely) notice a construction crane splicing up into the sky next to the Sugarhouse Casino. Workers broke ground last summer and according to a Sugarhouse spokesperson, construction is proceeding as expected. Last week, we spied a new parking garage laying its shadow across the Delaware River. The $164M expansion, all to the north of the original structure, will more than double the square footage of the casino. A temporary poker room has been in operation for awhile, but a permanent one is coming once the construction is over.

Can see the parking structure from across the street

Directly across the street, Core Realty's plans for a mega entertainment complex where Frankford Avenue hits Delaware Ave. is progressing. The music venue aspect of the project, the Fillmore Philadelphia, has booked Hall & Oates for their grand opening celebration on October 1st. It looks like quite a bit needs to happen between now and then.

Now if only the intersection with Delaware Ave. could reopen

While Michael Samshick of CORE Realty continues renovations of the old Richmond Street Warehouse into a mega entertainment complex—including a 3,000 seat venue, two restaurants and more—developers are hoping to capitalize on a reviving Frankford Avenue between Girard and Delaware Avenues.

Warehouse under construction

Only a football pass north of that project, developers want to transform 1140 Frankford Ave., a shabby looking industrial garage that may or may not be in use by adding two new stories. The building was acquired at the end of 2013 for a hefty $220K and sits next to a wide open lot that covers a few addresses and is used for industrial storage. The building will be used for office space, though we couldn't tell you what business will occupy it. The ZBA gave their approval this week.