The changes around the intersection of 16th & Parrish are symptomatic of what's been happening in Francisville as a whole over the last several years. For quite some time, the eastern side of 16th Street was dominated by a combination of vacant land and an overgrown and abandoned construction site. The western side of 16th Street wasn't much better, featuring a few battered buildings and a staggering amount of vacant land that wrapped around to the 1600 block of Ogden Street.
But things have improved dramatically and the trend is continuing. On the eastern side of 16th Street, the Vineyards at 16 project has filled in many of the vacant lots, though a few vacant City owned properties have led to gaps between buildings. Vineyards Cafe opened last year at the corner of 16th & Ogden, and we recommend the crepes.
Vineyards at 16 on the southeast corner of 16th & Ogden
We were in Francisville earlier today and came across some zoning notices at the northwest corner of 15th & Cambridge.
Though the zoning notices are posted at the corner, they're actually for 926 N. 15th St., a vacant lot that's a wee bit to the north. Standing at this corner, we felt a sense of deja vu, and then we realized that we've written about this very corner once before. Like, four years ago. Back then, we told you that developers were planning to develop 924 N. 15th St., though you can see that the lot remains as vacant today as it was back then. In 2014, new developers purchased both of these lots and are now planning triplexes for both. Condos or rentals are in play, given the location, and we'd bet that the projects will actually happen this time. In case you're wondering about the vacant lots at the corner, a developer bought them from the City at the end of last year (whoa!) so look for similar developments here in the future.
When PHA built a bunch of one-story homes in the southern part of Francisville in the early 1980s, they surely would not have guessed that developers would be buying up those homes and building condo buildings in their place just a few decades later. But that's exactly what's been happening on 19th Street, 20th Street, Capitol Street, and now on the 1900 block of Brown Street. We recently got a tip that a big new building had been framed out at 1926 Brown St., so we figured we'd check it out.
In the past
As we've told you previously when we've covered similar projects, all of these properties are zoned for multi-family use, and the fact that the homes sit on such large lots mean that they can typically accommodate three or four units by right. And frankly, in our opinion, a little density in this area is actually a pretty good idea. To the south is Fairmount Avenue, seemingly getting a new business every other month. To the north is Ridge Avenue, a commercial corridor that's looking to reestablish itself after so many years in the woods. And the more people that live nearby and can be potential customers, the better.
It's true, there are many homes in Francisville that are standard brick row homes with unfortunate vinyl covering their original cornices. They're like thousands of other row homes in Philadelphia, and similar structures can be found in countless other neighborhoods around town.
Plenty of homes in the neighborhood look like this
But Francisville also has a great collection of wonderful buildings with intact cornices, brownstone facing, and/or all kinds of amazing architectural details. Some of these homes have been well maintained over the years, and others not so much. Today we want to bring 877 and 879 Perkiomen St. to your attention, homes that are actually on the same block as the building pictured above. It's possible that, even if you live nearby, you've never come upon these amazing homes.
The southeast corner of 15th & Parrish is currently a vacant lot, but a four-story building stood here until fairly recently. Developers bought the property last summer for $300K. According to an old listing, the building housed Jimmy's Take Out Restaurant at some point but it was apparently in poor condition prior to its demolition. It's a shame, as it had some pretty nice looking bones.
View at the SE corner in the past
In place of this building, permits call for a new structure with six apartments. We'd guess that it'll either rise five stories like its near-neighbor on Ogden Street, or perhaps it will only go up four stories. It's safe to assume that the new building will have a much more contemporary look than the building it's replacing.