Francisville

A little mixed-use building is on the way

It was almost exactly two years ago that we brought a development opportunity to your attention at 1713-15 Fairmount Ave., after we noticed 'For Sale' signs posted on an old garage and vacant lot next door to Stone's Beverage Center. About a year and a half later, we learned that MJL Properties had jumped on the property, and had plans for a four-story mixed-use building with ground floor retail and parking, and ten apartments on the upper floors. Checking in on the project today, we see that the old garage has been demolished and a fresh foundation has appeared.

And more to come

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

Across the street, we've slowly watched as the 1600 block of Ogden Street has filled in with new residential buildings, but 16th Street has been slower to follow suit. A couple months back, we told you about plans for a four-story duplex on the western side of the street at 834 N. 16th St., and in the time that's passed since then a foundation has appeared.

Revisiting a plan from four years ago

We were in Francisville earlier today and came across some zoning notices at the northwest corner of 15th & Cambridge.

Zoning notices

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.

Quadplex coming in its place

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
Current view

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.

The new home next door doesn't really compare

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.

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