We've gone past 35 N. 2nd St. a number of times over the last month, each time meaning to pause for a minute to peer at the zoning notice posted on the front, but always in too much of a hurry. Finally, we took a minute yesterday to look at the zoning notice on this vacant building, which was previously home to I. Miller Microscopes for a very long stretch. Developers bought the building about a year ago, paying $800K for the property.
View from the north
Looking at the zoning notice, we see that those developers have plans to build an addition on the building and intend to maintain the ground floor commercial space while creating ten apartments on the upper floors. The minutes from their presentation to the Historical Commission provide additional detail, indicating that they'll build out the rest of the third floor and construct a fourth floor as well, leaving a 25' break in the middle of the building on the fourth floor, ostensibly to accommodate deck space and to provide additional light to the upper units. According to the zoning application, which got approval last month from the ZBA, they don't yet have a tenant in place for the retail space. It's a safe bet that the microscope store, which has moved to the 'burbs, won't be making a comeback here.
Just last week, we gave you an update on the elimination of a surface parking lot at 24 S. Front St. and the early stages of construction for nine townhomes. We were excited to get a better understanding of this project, having been uncertain about several details when we first covered the property back in October. As we said last week, US Construction is building nine homes with frontage on Black Horse Alley and a drive-aisle that travels from Front to Letitia Street. We still don't know whether the developer will follow their typical approach and rent out the homes for a time before selling them, but we'd have to think that they'd opt to sell them off right away, given the ritzy address. No pun intended.
View from last week
Seeing our story and the grainy rendering we cribbed from a sign on the property, the folks from JKRP Architects reached out to us and provided a clearer image and some additional visuals to give us a good idea of what we can expect when the project is completed. Check 'em out:
We were excited to tell you, a few months ago, that a new fence had appeared around a surface parking lot on Front Street in Old City and that developers were planning to shut down the parking lot and replace it with a nine unit building. At the time, we were a little short of details, and we didn't know whether the project would entail a condo building or a row of 9 townhomes. Checking in on the property today, we see that many of our questions have been answered.
Current view from Front Street
Foundations on Letitia Street
Looking at the row of new foundations on Letitia Street, we can now safely assume that the project at 24 S. Front St. will mean a row of townhomes. This parcel is unique in that it has frontage on one wide street, one narrow street, and one hilariously skinny street, in Front Street, Letitia Street, and Black Horse Alley, respectively. As a result, the developers will be able to have frontage and windows for the homes on the north side, even though they'll be very close to the apartment building next door.
For someone that doesn't know the history, the construction of the Bridge on Race project at the northwest corner of 2nd & Race is nothing special, just another example of the recent development boom in Philadelphia. But for those that have followed the history of the property, it still seems kind of incredible that it's actually happening and remarkable that it's now approaching the end of construction. In short, the project was in the works for about 15 years and took a number of turns along the way, finally breaking ground about a year and a half ago. When we checked in over the summer, we saw that construction had zipped along nicely after the first year. As you might imagine, more progress is apparent today.
Whether you're laying bricks for a new row home or painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, you're gonna need some scaffolding to reach those areas that sit more than the first few feet off the ground. And that scaffolding needs to come from somewhere. Many builders (and famous Renaissance artists), get their scaffolding from Eastern Scaffolding, located for many years on Front Street, in the shadow of an I-95 onramp. But a zoning notice recently appeared at their address at 408 N. Front St., indicating that the scaffolding business is out and apartments are in.