Fishtown

Still it looks way better than it once did

We last checked on the corner where Oxford hits Frankford Avenue back in the spring, when we told you that developers had purchased 1546 Frankford Ave. and were planning a serious renovation of the property. Passing by the other day, that effort looks like it's mostly finished. If you can recall, the building was previously a mess of siding and stucco, and the finished product is a great improvement, with eight apartments and a commercial space that's available for rent. The developers, we know thanks to the sign on the property, are Revolution Development Group, the same crew that's building the Bread Street Estates in Old City

Recent renovation, space for rent

Across the street, a former bar at 1523 Frankford Ave. is under construction. It was over a year ago that the owners went before the community to renovate the building into two apartments and a vacant commercial space on the first floor. Work has progressed more slowly at this property, but considering the fact that it's been vacant for several years, any signs of progress are welcome. Surely, neighbors will be keen to see what kind of tenant eventually appears downstairs.

Will have to come to community first

It might be awhile before developers have a chance to appear before the Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning committee for their proposal to transform a large corner vacant parcel at 623 E Girard Ave. into a new mixed-use building.

Developers from Ascender Investments failed to appear for a scheduled appearance with the FNA earlier this month, and have not yet filed an appeal with the ZBA, according to FNA zoning chair Matt Karp. The property sits at the edge of Fishtown, about a block from where Girard Avenue melts into I-95. We're pretty sure they're the same folks who built the seven homes on Flora Street in recent years- you can see the backs of those homes in the photos of the site.

The site, new homes behind it
From the other direction

“We spent a lot of time flyering and advertising for them not to show up to their community meeting,” Karp said.

Across from future apartments

As Fishtown has continued to redevelop, we've seen a good mix of larger projects and one-off projects, sometimes even on the same block. On the 2100 block of Norris Street alone, we've seen the ten-home Norris Point project and an additional six homes get started a little closer to Frankford Avenue. On the other side of Frankford but technically on the same block, we recently came upon a one-off mixed-use building under construction at 2186 E. Norris St., replacing a vacant lot.

In the past
Framing underway

According to the permits, this property will have commercial on the first floor and residential above. It's encouraging that the developers would opt for a commercial use at this location. With Frankford Avenue just steps away, perhaps there's a belief that the good vibes from the corridor can spill over onto Norris Street, adding a slightly hidden retail amenity for the neighborhood. It's actually pretty consistent with the fact that the folks building this thing are the same ones who own the building across the street which is on its way to renovation.

And five homes will rise in its place

Earlier this month, developers from Greenpoint Developers, an offshoot of Tower Investments, presented plans to the Fishtown Neighbors Association to demolish a church at 1401-09 Marlborough St. and construct six homes with off-street parking in its place. The community was not impressed.

Church plus zoning notices

Neighbors interpreted the project as an attempt to squeeze a sixth house onto a too-small parcel, which led to a vote of five in support and thirty-one opposed at an FNA zoning meeting. Before anything can be built here, the former Pilgrim Congressional United Church of Christ, which we wrote about over the summer when it had just gone under contract, will have to be demolished. According to Matt Karp, FNA zoning chair, after the presentation, members of the community talked and were able to pinpoint one decisive issue with the project that concerned them; the sixth house. Designed by Paul Drzal, the project proposed five single-family homes facing Marlborough Street with an awkwardly squeezed-in sixth house accessed on Belgrade Street, but pretty much facing the backs of the five homes on Marlborough Street.

Yes please

It's no secret that Fishtown and East Kensington have seen tremendous development in the last several years, with the Frankford Avenue and East Girard corridors as the stars of the show. We've documented all kinds of projects, including one-off homes, renovations of dormant storefronts and warehouses (hello La Colombe), construction of mixed-use buildings, and many others. Our favorite to date might be the restoration and reuse of the long-blighted former 26th District police building on Trenton Avenue.

We dig this apartment conversion

Just up the block from that building, which also contains a bank branch, is a long-vacant parcel where Trenton Avenue hits Frankford. For the last several years at least, the overgrown lot has been used for car and truck parking and little else. But that could soon change.

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