It seems like just yesterday that we first called your attention to 538 Federal St., a building that was constructed about a hundred years ago as a substation for the Philadelphia Electric Company (we call it PECO today). For the sake of nostalgia and as evidence of its former use, here's an old image of the building:
Back in 1962
Alas, it was over five years ago that we noticed some interior demolition here and had some high hopes that the building would get renovated and reused. At the time, we gave you the lowdown that PECO had sold the building in 1998 and that the owners lollygagged for a decade before taking a plan to the ZBA to convert the 13K sqft building into 16 apartments. That plan was ultimately withdrawn, and then in 2012 it looked like they'd be moving forward with a plan for 11 units instead. While we were perhaps a little disappointed about the lowered unit count, we were still pleased to hear that the building would be renovated and reused, not demolished and replaced by something less architecturally satisfying.
When we checked in on the property last fall, it was still sitting vacant but developers had a plan to build a four-home project here, with two homes on Moyamensing Avenue and two more on 4th Street. But the project still had to go to the ZBA, so it was no sure thing at that point. Be that as it may, four homes on a 3,200 sqft lot made all kinds of sense and we were optimistic that it would happen. And our optimism has been rewarded!
We told you about a four-home project on 2nd Street in Pennsport a few weeks ago, and mentioned in passing two more homes under construction nearby, across the street from Herron Playground. At the time, we thought we were providing an update on that project, foolishly thinking we'd mentioned it before. Upon further review, we never have!
Upon further review... Mr. Fox has a terrible memory!
So here's the skinny - developers bought 1333-35 S. 2nd St. at the end of last year, paying $450K for the pair of lots that go all the way through to Hancock Street. They've wisely subdivided the lots and are now building four homes here, with two on 2nd Street and two more on Hancock Street. Two of the homes are already under agreement and one of the Hancock homes is currently listed for $470K. Each home has 2,500 sqft of living space, with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. And as we said, they have very easy access to a playground, a huge benefit for somebody with young kids.
Developers bought the property a little over a year ago, and took it to the ZBA for a four-home development, with two homes on 2nd Street and two more on Philip Street. It looks like the ZBA denied the variance in November of last year, but then the project came back for some reason and the variance was granted this March. Does anyone have any insight into what happened here?
Trying to get through this sweaty Monday, we hoofed it over to Federal Donuts in Pennsport to grab some sugary and doughy goodness. Sated, we walked out the door and spied an odd banner on the fence on the northwest corner of 2nd & Manton.
Northwest corner of 2nd & Manton
From a quick read of the banner, it seems that a developer is planning a home for a small lot here and that someone else is none too pleased about the idea. Thankfully, the folks opposing the project have put together a website that details the situation. We did some additional digging to help better understand the situation.