Last summer, developers came to the community with plans to redevelop the large parcel at 1405 Frankford Ave., the longtime home of Penn Treaty Metals. By right, the developers could have built a mixed-use project with 30 units and no parking, but they instead proposed 32 units and 16 parking spaces. Still, the community only came out in support of the project by a narrow margin. We mentioned last month that we'd heard rumblings that this project would soon get underway, and wouldn't you know it, those rumblings were accurate.
View of the property
Old building has been demoed
In case you don't remember the plans for this property, here's a rendering to jog your memory.
As Fishtown and South Kensington continue to evolve from a development perspective, the retail mix on Frankford Avenue seems to get more and more appealing. Take, for example, Cheu Noodle Bar, opening this week on the 1400 block of Frankford. This block is on the rise in general, having seen the opening of a new City Fitness location earlier this year and with a new gastropub opening soon at the old Yachtsman location. And if that isn't enough, we learned earlier this week that an exciting new restaurant will soon open on the 1500 block in what was previously an industrial building.
Far be it from us to tell developers what to do- heaven knows we don't always know the right approach for a given property. But we're starting to feel pretty confident with the feedback that developers shouldn't try to get a variance for a multi-family project in Fishtown without providing parking. It seems that every time we see such a project come down the pike, it runs into a brick wall of neighborhood opposition. Let's look at 1502-08 Frankford Ave., the latest example of this phenomenon.
As you might guess from the address, this property doesn't include the vacant lot at the corner, but does include the three story building with the zoning notice and the two garages next door. Developers bought the property last year and have proposed tearing down the existing buildings and constructing a mixed-use building in their place. That five-story building would include 28 apartments, commercial on the ground floor, and no parking. At the FNA zoning meeting last month, the community voted 40-11 against the project. We weren't at the meeting, but we'd think that the opposition had to do with the fact that the developers were looking to build 8 more apartments than they could include by right and the resulting parking challenges that would create. The project is slated to go to the ZBA, but we don't think it will fare very well, given the overwhelming opposition from the community. And what a shame, the building would've been pretty nice.
It was roughly two years back that we told you about the Moyer Street Project, a plan to investigate reinvigorating the cruddy 2400 block of Moyer Street, right off of Aramingo Avenue. At the time, the Olde Richmond Civic Association had crafted a survey to ask neighbors what they wanted to see happen to this block, and a community meeting was planned to discuss the matter as well. This sounded great to us, and we were further encouraged to learn that ORCA was getting a $25K TCDI (Transportation and Community Development Initiative) grant to hire planning professionals to really suss out the project.
Checking in on the block today, we can report that not much has changed and that it still looks pretty awful. But it seems there's some good stuff right on the horizon.
We were traveling up Frankford Avenue the other day, after enjoying a tasty lunch at Steap and Grind, and we spied what looked like a construction site in its early stages on the 1600 block of E. Eyre Street. Behind the chain link fence, it looks like something was demolished sometime recently. But looks can be deceiving! It turns out, 1645 1/2 E. Eyre St. was just a surface parking lot.
In the past
In a case of looks being deceiving in quick succession, this property is way bigger than it looks. The previous owners only used a portion of the parcel for parking, even though it covers roughly 8,000 sqft. In this neighborhood, that's a whole lot of underused land. Oh by the way, the property is zoned for multi-family use, making it even more attractive for redevelopment. And wouldn't you know it, developers snapped up the property last fall, paying $1.3M even though it appears it was never formally listed for sale.