Pennsport

No clue whether the wait times will be similar

The DMV experience is generally terrible- a few Simpsons episodes featuring Patty and Selma have driven this point home. But our experiences at the PennDOT Driver License Center at 1530 S. Columbus Blvd. were generally tolerable, with relatively manageable wait times in a rather depressing setting. But that setting is now gone forever, as this location recently closed its doors. Passing by the other day, we spied dumpsters on the site.

Whole area has experienced mini-boom

Several years ago, a fire ravaged 405 Greenwich St., and the remnants of the home remained for a couple of years. By 2012, thankfully, the blighted building was demolished. The lot has sat vacant, catty corner from Grindcore House, ever since.

Looked like this for years
Currently a vacant lot with a zoning notice

As you can see in the photo above (and as is mentioned in the caption), the vacant lot now has a zoning notice posted. Developers purchased the little lot earlier this year, and are now looking to build a three story home here. We would guess that their refusals are dimensional in nature, as the lot is only 48' deep and a sellable home will need to be deeper than the code permits. We don't think it needs zoning approval for a third story without a setback- despite the fact that it sits on a two story block, it only has a two-story home on one side. 

Big project finally happening

It was in the winter of 2011 that we first told you about a planned residential development at the southern end of Pennsport where Moore Street hits E. Moyamensing Avenue. On a long vacant lot, Design Builders Associates put up a sign advertising Moyamensing Estates, a fifteen home gated community. Prices for the 2,500 sqft homes were slotted at under $400K, which seemed necessary given the location. Center City Team was able to dredge up some project renderings from Landmark Design which showed a drive aisle with access from Moyamensing.

Old rendering

Years have passed, the lots has remained vacant. In March though, Passyunk Post reported that a new sign appeared on the site advertising Moyamensing Place, which was to be built by the same developers. According to public record though, the property changed hands earlier this year for $1.3M. Passing by the lot today, we found that new foundations have been poured for homes fronting Moore and Pierce Streets.

Move in with Uncle Jesse

Heading home after getting whooped again in kickball, it somehow seemed appropriate that we found ourselves on Mercy Street, a tiny block just north of Snyder Avenue. Heading down the narrow street's 400 block, we were not at all expecting to find three homes that had clearly been built very recently.

400 block of Mercy Street
Three new homes

417-21 Mercy St. sit on what were previously vacant lots which were purchased by V2 Properties a little over a year ago. If the name of that developer sounds a little familiar, it's because we've mentioned a few of their projects before. Remember, they have a big project in the pipeline on Front Street in Northern Liberties, with plans for twenty-three homes. And similar to their Mercy Street project, at least in terms of building on a narrow block that's just north of a major corridor, they built five homes on League Street in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.

With a long industrial past

The southwest corner of Front & Reed is decidedly inconspicuous today.  Standing at the edge of a quiet residential part of Southwark, it would hardly strike one as a once fertile complex of retail and industrial buildings.  But Front Street in Southwark was part of quite a different neighborhood before builders plopped I-95 right in the middle of it.  Indeed, in the mid-19th Century, this block stood opposite the bustling Navy Yard, as shown in the image here below, taken from Charles Ellet, Jr.’s Philadelphia County map.

Southwark at the corner of Front & Reed, 1843

Not shown in the map is the Savery & Co. Iron Foundry, which was built on the spot two years prior.  The photo below, taken from the Library Company of Philadelphia, offers an 1847 sketch of the complex at the time.

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