Not breaking news: Point Breeze has seen an incredible amount of development in the last several years. As a result of this development activity, we've seen entire blocks transformed, like the 1300 block of Chadwick Street or the 2000 block of Annin Street. Until very recently, both of these blocks were dominated by large stretches of vacant land. Today, new homes have filled in almost all of the vacancies. But still some blocks have a ton of vacant land. Take, for example, the 2000 block of Gerritt Street.
By our quick count, we see about 18 empty lots and 24 structures in the image above. That's... not so good.
On the plus side, we're seeing at least a little development on the block right now. V2 Properties, who seem to be building all over town, are building a new home at 2059 Gerritt St., which was previously (and unsurprisingly) a vacant lot.
Looking east from near 21st St., we see the home under construction
But we're not bringing you to this block to tell you about a single home that's under construction or to lament the number of remaining vacant lots. No, we've brought you here to share the news of a larger project that's in the works which will wipe out half the vacancy on the block. Recently, we got word of plans to build nine new homes on the western side of this block, but the project still needs to go through the zoning process.
We were making our way across town on Wharton Street yesterday and spied a zoning notice at 1253-55 S. 18th St., a building that's been home to a church for many years. The sign on the building is actually pretty small, but some brick detail on the facade makes the use of the building quite clear, even if you can't make out what the sign says.
Zoning notices on the northeast corner
From the looks of it, this property could have once been a pair of rowhomes which were combined to give the church the room it required. But the history of the property was likely not a priority for the developers who purchased the property last year for $160K. Last month, they went to the ZBA with plans for two homes on this parcel, ostensibly fronting 18th Street, and they got the necessary approval. We expect demolition will take place in the near future and construction will follow soon after.
We've seen many churches torn down over the last few years, and we typically lament the loss of architectural character that springs from such an act. From a purely architectural standpoint, nobody will miss this building. This is especially true when you consider that there are some really impressive churches across the street.
It's the calm before the storm on the 2000 block of Wharton Street. By "the calm," we mean there's a few homes under construction. By "the storm," of course, we mean that dozens of new homes are on the horizon. But first let's consider the present, shall we?
A new home and a rehab close to PB Ave.
Close to Point Breeze Avenue, we see a pair of newer looking homes. We actually gave you the heads up about the construction of 2026 Wharton St., the home on the left, about a year and a half ago. This had been a vacant lot for many years but now the construction is finished and new residents have moved in. As for 2028 Wharton St., you can see from the wall that's partially stucco and partially siding that it's actually an addition and renovation, not a new home. Nevertheless, we expect it will sell for a pretty penny once construction concludes.
A newer home with two more sprouting on either side
Developers built a new home at 2023 Wharton St. a couple of years ago, but the heating and cooling bills were surely on the high end because of the vacant lots on either side. Now, the same folks that built the home in the middle are replacing those lots with new homes. A sign of the changing market in the neighborhood, they paid about $60K per lot in 2014 for 2021 and 2025 Wharton St., but 2023 Wharton St. cost under $15K back in 2009. And all of the lots would certainly sell for over $60K today.
Someday, when we get around to learning much more about the history of Philadelphia's streets, perhaps we'll understand why certain streets in disappear and reappear as they make their way through town. Bonsall and Bucknell Streets run north to south between 23rd and 24th Streets, disappearing and reappearing seemingly without rhyme or reason. From a transportation perspective, it seems a little silly. Why did a city planner a hundred something years ago think that it made sense for Manton Street to dead-end at 23rd Street in one direction and 24th in the other?
This doesn't seem to make much sense
But alas, someone who died long before our birth made these decisions and there's not much anyone can do about it. So let's look at some real estate development on these blocks, shall we?
Corner of Bonsall & Federal
At the corner of Bonsall & Federal, we spied a new foundation and a newer home right next door. It's a little odd that the home at 1202 S. Bonsall St. has a third floor setback. Since it was a vacant lot next to a vacant lot, the setback wasn't required. Then again, it looks like a nice deck on the front of the house which surely has excellent skyline views. In the photo above, you can see there's another new house directly to the west, on Bucknell Street.
At a South Philadelphia HOMES meeting last night, we learned about plans for three new homes on the 1300 block of S. Dorrance Street.
This block is a bit tricky to get to by car, as it can only be accessed via Earp Street, which can only be accessed from 19th Street. So if you'd like to check this block out, we urge you to walk or bike. Then again, until fairly recently, there haven't been so many people interested in visiting this block. When we last found our way here back in 2013, there were only five homes to be seen, at least one of which was vacant. But similar to the surrounding neighborhood, there's been a building boom on the block, at least on the east side.