Fishtown

If you like it, units are still available

Just a few steps away from some skinny new homes under construction on the 2100 block of E. Hagert St., we noticed that the new apartment building at 2431 Frankford Ave. is all finished. We told you about this project almost exactly a year ago, just as site work was getting started. This property had been sitting vacant for a number of years, used occasionally for parking for the church next door.


About a year ago

Over the course of the months that followed our post, the developers rapidly constructed a four-story, 16-unit, apartment building with 5 parking spots. The building notably has an "urban meadow" surrounding the first floor, adding a dash of green to go along with the expected street trees. The materials of the exterior aren't anything earth shattering, but the way the architects played with the massing make this one of the more interesting looking apartment buildings we've seen in recent memory. Quite unusually, we'd contend that the finished product looks better than the project rendering.

And the project across the street got approved

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.

We are getting hungry

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.

We've covered 1526 Frankford Ave. several times over the years, first checking in on the property at the end of 2012, when a tarp was covering the building's facade. At the time, we told you that the property was previously owned by Samuel Machinery Company, a familiar name because they also were previously connected to a long blighted building on 3rd Street in Old City. As we told you before, that building, like their former structure on Frankford Avenue, has undergone a major transformation.

Will the ZBA approve it?

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.


The property

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.

Dog run and community space planned off Aramingo

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.

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