The Fishtown Neighbors Association recently supported developers' plans at 153 Richmond St. to add two stories to an existing building. This was necessary because the property is zoned industrial, hearkening back to different times in the neighborhood.
We've written a fair amount about infill in Fishtown in recent months, like along the 1300 block of Crease St. close to Frankford Ave., or three new homes on the 1200 block of Fletcher Street. The common theme in these projects is converting under-used property into residential uses. The moves make sense for developers who can certainly benefit financially from converting a garage or a vacant lot into a new home or rental units that will generate income each month. So the owner who purchased 153 Richmond St. for $77,500 in March, 2011 should do okay.
Developers plans to build five homes on Gordon Street and three on Dauphin Street, moving around lot lines on this parcel which runs street to street. The project, designed by JKR Partners, will also include some demolition, and would animate an under-used Fishtown block.
The community vote at the July 15th FNA zoning meeting was sixteen in favor to fifteen opposed. Near neighbors were more strongly opposed than the community at large. According to Matt Karp, FNA zoning chair, the high number of no's was due to parking because the proposal offered nothing in that department. According to Karp, there's a question as to whether the ZBA will even listen regarding parking concerns for this project considering it's not required by the code. The developers are only seeking a variance for lot size, and a minimal one at that.
In Fishtown, just off Frankford Avenue, a garage is gone and six new homes are on their way. At 2170 E. Norris St., the Palm Automotive Center once cast an unattractive shadow on the rapidly developing corridor. Now it's just a memory.
In the past
Remember Norris Point, the ten home development built last year where Norris Street hits Trenton Avenue, just a few steps from the location pictured above? This project comes from the same developer, Eric Fox, and is also similarly designed by Bryan Philips at ISA. Mr. Fox (not us, 'natch) also did The Nine, a LEED project on Tulip Street across from Memphis Flats. But now his attention is squarely on this parcel, where construction is underway.
Norris Street near Frankford Avenue has seen plenty of action in recent years. Norris Point, ten homes that replaced an overgrown lot, has been a huge success. A couple of single family homes have sprung up. And new homes will soon replace a former auto center at the corner of Blair Street (more on that next week). But today we look at 2162-64 E. Norris St., a building that looks like it dates back further than most others in the area.
The building, blocked by a truck
Better but old view from Google Maps
Architecturally, this property feels more Queen Village than Fishtown. Or are we off base? The building was purchased by Norris Partners LLC a little less than a year ago, and they're in the process of restoring the building. As you can possibly make out in the first image, they've been repointing the brick on the facade. What really drew us to the property though, is the reconstruction of the roof in the rear.
In Graduate Hospital, the last few years have not been kind to many of the old churches that have long inhabited the neighborhood. Several have been demolished in favor of residential development, with the new homes among the fanciest and priciest in the neighborhood. It should come as no surprise that this sort of thing could also happen in Fishtown, and we have a feeling that the former Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ at 1407 Marlborough St. will soon fall victim to a similar fate.
Recently, the church merged with Saint Michael's on Cumberland Street, vacating their home of many years. The property went on the market a couple of months ago for $750K, and quickly went under agreement. According to the listing, the church was built in 1841. As you can see, it's a unique looking building with a certain kind of Spanish majesty to it.
Church has moved
At such a high sale price, we can't imagine that this is a case of another congregation coming to take over the building, nor would we guess that a developer is planning adaptive reuse. No, we would bet that a developer will demolish the building and replace it with five homes or maybe more. The lot is over 5,000 sqft, and could surely accommodate luxury homes with parking. The property also includes a vacant corner lot that's been used for parking.