Francisville

Wish the rest looked more like it

About thirty years ago, the Philadelphia Housing Authority tore down all the homes on the western side of 19th Street just north of Fairmount Avenue, and built a collection of less-than-attractive one-story buildings with front yards. The affordable housing units had deed restrictions which prevented their sale to individuals who didn't meet certain income thresholds, but those restrictions expired after a couple of decades. Now, with the explosion of development in Francisville, many folks who bought these homes back in the day have an opportunity for a tremendous windfall.

We covered an example of this a couple of years ago, when an older home was demolished and replaced with a new three-story duplex. This created some controversy in the neighborhood, with some neighbors concerned about gentrification and others upset that the new building disrupted the flow of the block. The building does indeed stick out, both in terms of height and depth, as you can see below.

First duplex on the block

Last fall, we told you about plans for a second duplex on the block. At that point, we speculated that the design would be the same as the previous duplex. We were, it seems, mistaken.

Hardware store changing and new apartments coming

A nearly $3M deal will soon translate into Loonstyn Properties constructing two new six unit buildings just north of 20th & Fairmount, as well as renovating 20 existing units along Fairmount Avenue. This past November, Loonstyn Properties purchased 2001-2011 Fairmount Ave., a strip of buildings on the same side of the street as Eastern State Penitentiary, as well as vacant lots at 702-04 N. 20th, and two garages on Capital Street.

Row of buildings
Lots on 20th St.
Garages on Capital St.

The renovations will include refabricating some facades to be more like their original condition, according to Bill Loonstyn, of Loonstyn Properties. He said, while plans are still being finalized, he intends to highlight an intricate cornice on the first floor and style the facade in a Victorian fashion.

A sign of things to come on Ridge?

One of our big predictions for 2014 was that Ridge Avenue would finally take a big step toward reestablishing itself as a relevant commercial corridor. Unfortunately, we're now a few months into the year and little has changed on Francisville's main drag. But if things go well on Wednesday at the ZBA, we could indeed see something significant come down the pike.

From a distance
Closer look

On the docket for Wednesday is the consolidation of 1605, 1607, 1609, 1611, and 1613 Ridge Ave. into one large lot and the construction of a large, mixed-use building. The structure, as proposed, would have fourteen residential units and a large ground-floor commercial space. We would guess that the apartments will be rentals, like the units around the corner at the Vineyards at 16.

First units rise, more foundations wait

Last summer, we gave you some preliminary info about Folsom Powerhouse, a joint venture between Equinox Management & Construction and Postgreen Homes. This project will eventually include thirty-one new units on a mass of land in the southern part of Francisville which has been owned by City agencies for years. Like other Postgreen projects, the units will be extremely sustainable, and design work has been done by Interface Studio Architects. Passing by the other day, it seems the first phase of the project is moving along nicely.

Framing ongoing

The first phase includes the construction of seven buildings- three townhomes and four duplexes. According to the project page on the Postgreen website, all but one of the units are under agreement for the phase currently under construction. Townhomes are selling at a price of $415K, upper condo units are selling at $335K, and lower condo units are selling at $285K. The next phase will involve the construction of two buildings with frontage on 18th Street. We're pretty sure these buildings will contain ten rental apartments.

More vacant land disappearing

Earlier this week, we told you about a new Francisville foundation, just a few doors north of the intersection of 16th & Poplar. Like those in the quadplexes next door, the apartments in the duplex that will soon rise there will be condoed out. Just a block to the south are several additional apartment buildings that have either just gone up or are still under construction. The 1600 block of Ogden Street has seen several duplexes go up in the last year, though there's still a lot of vacant lots on the block. On the southeast corner of 16th & Ogden, the Vineyards at 16 is a mixed-use project that's slowly coming together.

New buildings and vacant lots on the 1600 block of Ogden
Vineyards project under construction

Now joining the fray are four more duplexes which we learned about today thanks to an eagle-eyed reader who spotted some new foundations recently on the 1500 block of Ogden Street. These duplexes will replace long-vacant lots and are designed by Harman Deutsch.

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