Point Breeze

Shiny new building on the way

For many years, the 1700 block of South Broad Street has been home to the South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library, Health Center 2, and the DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center. All three facilties have been looking a little shabby of late, needing at least some minor repairs and ideally a major renovation. That sort of thing costs money, and perhaps you've heard the City isn't exactly swimming in the green stuff these days.

Through a creative partnership with CHOP though, South Philly will soon be getting a brand new library, rec center, and health center to go along with a relocated CHOP primary care facility. Groundbreaking on this project, which is called the Community Health and Literacy Center, took place a couple of weeks ago, and construction (demolition, really) is now underway.

And phase one is finished

It's been a long road for Renewbold, but it seems that the journey is finally approaching its end. It was all the way back in February of 2011 that we first told you about this project from LPMG, the guys behind American Sardine Bar and South Philly Tap Room. About a year later, the project, with sixteen homes, two condos and a retail space at 16th & Moore got approval from the ZBA. In October of 2013, the first phase of the project broke ground, with 6 two-story homes and 2 three-story homes fronting Bancroft Street. Those homes now appear to be finished and are sold out. Take a look-see.

Right in front of some new homes

A little less than a year ago, we came upon a zoning notice at 2300 Washington Ave., a huge lot that's been vacant and overgrown for years. This notice informed us of plans for a self storage facility from United Storall Center that would rise over sixty feet tall. This use and height are permitted by right since the parcel is zoned for industrial use, and the owners were seeking a variance to reduce the number of parking spots required.

When they got some pushback on the project, they abandoned the variance and are now doing the project entirely by right. So instead of twelve parking spots on the first floor, there will be fifty. Over the next four stories, there will be storage space. Basically, there will soon be a sixty-foot cube rising here:

Two duplexes coming

In the northeastern section of Point Breeze, two long vacant lots should soon get redeveloped. A couple of years ago, we told you about plans for two triplexes on the 1100 block of S. 15th St. which received pushback from some folks in the neighborhood who didn't want to see the additional density. We were happy about the project, however, because it was replacing two blighted and vacant homes. Those buildings are now finished and rented out.

Two newer triplexes

A few doors down though, at 1154 and 1156 S. 15th St., the block has suffered with two vacant lots for many years. The northern lot has some nice size to it, and the southern lot is even larger, stretching all the way to Hicks Street. Developers purchased the larger lot late last year, and closed on the smaller one in January. They purchased the latter from the City through the Philly Land Works site, proving that every now and then the City does indeed sell off its lots. Just not quite frequently enough for our liking.

Yes, we know it's self-serving. But it's also true.

Back in the spring, we told you about plans from OCF Holdings to replace a gross old warehouse with twenty-two new homes at the corner of 20th & Wharton. The project went to the ZBA back in May, and a final ruling still hasn't been made.

Current view
Looking down 20th Street

At the ZBA hearing, there were dozens of people present in support of the project, and three people in opposition. Community group South Philadelphia HOMES offered several objections to the project, including the lack of affordable housing (which we won't address here since OCF Holdings isn't an affordable housing developer) and an absence of parking. The group asked the developer to revise the project to eleven homes, each with a rear-access parking port on Woodstock Street. The developer didn't think that such a plan would be feasible, but hired a Economist Kevin Gillen to perform a study to confirm those suspicions.

Project rendering

If you're not a math or development nerd, might we suggest skipping the next couple of paragraphs, as they're gonna be a little boring yet extremely enlightening.

Looking at the project, Gillen made several assumptions: