Fishtown

Positive change for a once-neglected corner

Last April, we brought the corner of Sepviva & E. Firth to your attention, noting the early stages of a six-home development. Previously at this corner, there was a City-owned basketball court that was in poor condition, and according to commenters it was rarely used for play and occasionally used for drug dealing. So no loss there.

In the past

We passed by this corner the other day and it seems that the project is done.

Current view
Five homes on Sepviva St.

We can only find the sales of some of the homes on public record, but from the looks of it, most if not all of the homes have found buyers. Architecturally, the row of new homes certainly stands out from the older homes in the neighborhood, and for us they evoke a bit of a Lego feel. Still, those front balconies will surely be a treat once the warmer weather rolls around.

How 'bout five instead?

Development in Fishtown is shuffling towards its borders as parcels near Aramingo Ave. have been getting attention in recent months. But developers with plans to build six townhomes at 2631-35 E Norris St. will have to amend their project if they want community support.

The long empty lot

At a community meeting last month, neighbors thought six homes on three lots was too many, according to Matt Karp, Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning chair. Currently, the parcel is a large fenced-in vacant lot with some big trees. The size of said trees suggests that the lot has been this way for many years. Gator Properties acquired the parcel for $350K in 2004 along with the home next door, used as a rental property ever since. Clearly, the developers have been biding their time with this lot.

But the community isn't into it

In Fishtown, neighbors recently voted in opposition to a project that would nearly double the density allowed by right at 1019-23 E Columbia Ave., and it wasn't even close. At a Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning meeting earlier this month, neighbors voted 2-39 not to support plans to convert a parcel under the heels of I-95 into nine new homes and three new duplexes—a total of 15 units 

Zoning notice at the parcel

Designed by KJO Architecture, original plans called for the demolition of a warehouse set back near fifty feet Columbia's intersection with Salmon St. just before the I-95 overpass. As it were, the plans envisioned a Salmon Street fronting, which would have allowed developers to fit twelve new structures on an area that, according to Matt Karp, FNA zoning chair, is by right, suited for six or seven houses. Karp estimates that number by taking the total square footage of the lot—about 9700 sqft if you add up the size according to OPA numbers—and dividing it by the size allotted by the zoning code designation that applies to the property—1440 sqft—and you get seven (if you round up). The increased density waved a red flag among neighbors.

“The community didn't understand why they're doubling the amount of density that's allowed,” Karp said. He added that it was a large site, that could nicely accommodate six houses.

Big project is happening at last

After numerous years in the planning stages, after zoning has been cleared, and after one developer left the project, the New Kensington Community Development Corporation's mixed-housing development, formerly known as Moyer St. Townhomes—now, known simply as Awesometown is underway via a collaboration with Postgreen Homes.

Moyer Street homes, coming soon
Project site plan

They broke ground two weeks ago on the site located on the 400 block of Moyer Street. The project will bring 14 townhomes in two phases. The homes will seek LEED Platinum certification and include sustainable elements like improved rainwater collection abilities, and solar thermal capacities. Phase 1 will include 8 townhomes on the 400 block of Moyer St., followed by a Phase 2 that builds six more homes with Thompson Street addresses. So far, six of the homes have sold, including four of the homes marked for affordable housing. Pre-sale of homes before building is an element Postgreen Homes uses to leverage with banks when developing new projects. About five years ago, after the initial partner failed to get funding and left, Postgreen partnered with NKCDC to continue the vision.

Coming to absolutely nobody's surprise

We're starting to feel like a broken record- there's more mixed-use development coming to Frankford Avenue. Last month, the Fishtown Neighbors Association supported developers' plans to build a mixed-use building with ground floor commercial at 2325 Frankford Ave. near the East Kensington border.

Lot on Frankford Ave.

They'll build on an empty lot on a block that has a few vacant parcels strung in between homes and other mixed-use buildings. In the future this block could have more potential if those remaining lots get built up. It's already gotten some action in the last couple of years, with the appearances of Pizza Brain and Little Baby's Ice Cream. If the auto garage across the street were to get redeveloped, it would be even better. In addition to the Frankford Ave. building, the developers will build a single family home that fronts Collins Street.

Home is coming to Collins Street

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