First phase was a long time ago

Last week, we had a great opportunity to get an insider's look of a current preservation-minded redevelopment project in Manayunk: Shurs Lane Mills at 410 Shurs Lane. This property is a two-building complex that was built to house a textile mill in 1876 by T. Kentworthy and (his) Brother. According to a survey taken in 1885, the duo of buildings were producing carpet yarns and employing about 139 people, the majority of which seem to have been children or teenagers.

Drawing included in the 1885 survey, courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia

One of the buildings was rehabbed into condos a little less than a decade ago. After sitting derelict for years, apparently caught in some kind of tangled litigation process, the second building is finally being resuscitated by Dempsey Development and Brokerage into 37 apartment units, most of which will be studios and one bedrooms starting at $1105 per month. Take a look at some of the pictures we captured of this project:

View from Shurs Lane shows the length of the building

The renters on the bottom floor, known as the Garden Level of the building, will have direct access to the neighboring parking lot through individual doors. The 81 spaces there and in a parking lot on the other side of the building will be reserved for residents of the complex.

Seems like a reasonable way to go

For the thirsty hordes that typically descend on Manayunk every weekend, a project currently under construction has slightly diminished the parking options. Previously, 4304 Cresson St. was a parking garage. Considering its location underneath the rail tracks, this seemed like an extremely reasonable use for this big old building. Incidentally, a public swimming pool was located here at least until the 1960s, so it's possible the building wasn't so old after all.

In the past

But that's pretty much an academic conversation at this point since the building is all but demolished. A new building has risen from its ashes.

This thing has dragged on for years

Over the years, several developers have eyed different properties on the waterfront in Manayunk, and most have struck out. The community has generally opposed these projects because they're not enthralled with the idea of apartment buildings that will definitely flood. Seems pretty reasonable, what with the enormous safety hazard and such. Despite all this, from what we can tell, 1 Cotton St. will soon get a project after multiple iterations over a stretch of many years.

View from the bridge to Venice Island
A big vacant lot next to the river

This property was once the site of Connelly Containers, long demolished. The project, from Realen Properties, was previously known as the Waterford Apartments at Cotton Street and included plans for 270 condo units. That number then shrank to 205 units, per Friends of the Manayunk Canal, then came down to 102 rental units. Somewhere along the line, the project got revised again to 156 units and is now called the Isle Apartments. Looking at the site, a City-issued sign along with the sign advertising the project would seem to indicate that work is finally moving forward here.

Site of former Kowalski Post

We like to think we're pretty good at sleuthing out details for most projects around town, but every now and then we find ourselves flummoxed. The other day for example, we came upon some construction on Shurs Lane in Manayunk, right after the tracks if you're coming from Main Street. 133 Shurs Ln. was until somewhat recently home to the Kowalski Post, a veterans organization, but they sold their property to developers due to money problems, according to Newsworks. With a sales price of $1.1M, those money problems should now hopefully be a thing of the past.

Former Kowalski Post
Closer look

What caught our attention is the extensive work happening just to the south, where the Kowalski Post previously had a parking lot. 

Join other new homes on the block

Yesterday, we were on our way back to town from King of Prussia and cut through Manayunk due to traffic on I76. With Main Street closed thanks to the Streat Food Festival, we got detoured through the neighborhood and fortuitously stumbled upon a project where Sharp Street hits Dawson Street, right near Ridge Avenue. Just a few years ago, the 3700 block of Sharp Street was rather underdeveloped, with trees on one side and cars parked along a vacant strip of land on the other.

In the past
An old view of the block

Oh how the block has changed thanks to one developer. A couple of years ago, Rock Construction Development bought an old building that had been used for parking, and built five homes in its place. Now, they're in the process of building some additional homes next door, filling in the entire side of the block.