Francisville

Renovation and new construction

We've seen serious changes in Francisville in recent years, mostly in the form of long-vacant lots filling in with residential or mixed-use development. The concentration of this redevelopment has taken place near the 19th & Poplar intersection, though we've recently started to see additional infill closer to Ridge Avenue, the neighborhood's depressed commercial corridor. As we were passing through the area the other day, we spotted a tall new addition just off of Ridge.

New building has appeared

Carmel Developments, developers who have lately been busying themselves on Frankford Avenue, purchased 1541 Ridge Ave. over a year ago. They've since gone to the trouble of subdividing the lot, creating an independent parcel that fronts the 1500 block of Parrish Street. There, they've already framed out a four-story building that will eventually house three apartment units and a commercial space. Next door to this construction site is a crossfit gym we've never noticed and would have to imagine hasn't been around for so long.

More infill in the neighborhood

Around the corner from the faded Metropolitan Opera House, a huge vacant lot is on the outs at 15th & Poplar. For years, this lot has been used for parking for the nearby Second Pilgrim Baptist Church, but it seems that won't be possible for very much longer.

Two lots further from the corner
They're quite deep

In reality, this parking lot is made up of three distinct lots. The two interior lots are privately owned (by what seems like different developers), having changed hands last year. The corner parcel, which is a ridiculous 28'x110', is owned by the City. So at the very least, the church should have some vacant land to use for parking for the next decade or two until the City gets around to selling their parcel.

As for the privately owned lots, both have plans on the table for new buildings, each with five apartments. No idea whether the plan is for rentals or condos at this point, but we'd bet on rentals due to the site's proximity to Temple. On the other hand, a row of quadplexes just a block to the west are being marketed as condos despite our initial expectation that they'd be rentals. So who knows.

A quadplex is coming

We've been all over three similar projects on 20th Street just north of Fairmount Avenue in the last couple of years. Three buildings, long owned by PHA and long blighted, got torn down and replaced by duplexes. It was with a bit of sadness that we watched these buildings come down, as they were among the few originals on the block. Most of the properties here were built in the late 1970s or early 1980s set back far from the street, and sold as affordable housing. A noble cause with tragically bad execution.

East side of the block

While the three projects so far on the block replaced demolished hundred-plus-year-old homes, the newest one is replacing a home that's only been around for a few decades. This creates an unusual situation, as the newer homes are built on very wide lots. 731 N. 20th St. was not a particularly good looking building when it was still with us, but now it's gone and there's a new building under construction in its place.

Brightening two blocks

The other day, we told you about a new foundation on the 1700 block of Ridge Ave. which will eventually house three apartments and a restaurant of some kind. A block away, there's a very similar project that's under construction, just a little further along in the process.

From a distance. Note the Divine Lorraine in the background

1623 Ridge Ave., which sits right near the corridor's intersection with Ogden Street, has been vacant for many years. In 2013, developers purchased the lot, it seems at sheriff's sale. The parcel runs street to street, at an angle, between Ridge and Ogden. The new four-story building, as you can see, is built on an angle that traces the property line.

We spied a foundation

Ridge Avenue is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. Project HOME redeveloped a gigantic vacant lot near Broad Street into a mixed-use building, JBJ Soul Homes. On the 1300 block, a long-blighted building has finally been rehabbed. And a mixed-use project is planned (though not yet under construction) on the north side of the 1700 block. And while on Ridge the other day, we came upon another lot that's now getting developed.

New foundation

1724 Ridge Ave., at the corner of Vineyard Street, has been vacant for years, though relatively well tended. For the last couple of years though, it's been surrounded by a chain-link fence. Finally, in the last month or two, a foundation has appeared. According to the L&I Map, the large lot will soon contain a new four story mixed-use building with three apartments on the upper floors and a commercial space downstairs. And that commercial space will apparently be home to a restaurant, if we're to believe the permits. Has anyone in the area heard anything about such a thing?

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