Point Breeze

Three homes are under construction

A few years ago, the tide of development started flowing across Washington Avenue, and new homes appeared on blocks like Ellsworth, Federal, and Latona Streets. But there wasn't a whole lot happening south of Wharton Street, at least in the western sections of Point Breeze. More recently, we've seen a serious bump in construction south of Wharton, with many projects in the ground and some more still to come. Today we look at the 1700 block of Dickinson Street, where three homes are currently under construction and at least one more should follow soon.

Two new homes are under construction

The southeast corner of 18th & Dickinson has been vacant since at least 2007 per Google Maps, and we're guessing for many years before that as well. If you visit the corner today, you'll see two new homes under construction. Emerald Properties bought the three lots on the corner a couple of years ago and now they're redeveloping the properties. The corner lot is zoned commercial and has approvals for a first floor commercial space and an apartment above. They have an application to the ZBA to build a single-family home, but whether they get approval remains to be seen.

An interesting effort to improve the neighborhood

As community groups go, it seems Newbold Neighbors Association has all the fun ideas. Their biggest fundraiser every year takes place in the form of a neighborhood beer tour. Last spring, they added a wine tour to the docket. Count us in.

The source of the Newbold name

NNA's latest and greatest idea has a decidedly less boozy theme, but could have major implications for the neighborhood's improvement in the years to come. A few weeks back, the group announced a microgrant program designed to fund plans to improve the community. The group is currently taking applications for $500 grants for anything that people can imagine to "make the neighborhood a better place." Can we get some other community groups in on this idea?

The application demands that people really think through their proposals. Applicants must live within the group's boundaries, which go from Broad Street to 18th Street, Washington Avenue to Passyunk Avenue. The projects, which must be for public consumption, also need to occur within those boundaries. The preference is that the funding goes toward materials rather than labor. Also, the group is seeking projects that fulfill at least one, and ideally multiple goals of the organization, including "improve public safety, beautify the neighborhood, support sustainable development, promote local businesses, provide greener streets, help reach new residents, and foster smart planning and zoning."

Does anyone know what it once held?

Right behind the Nunez Corp. Meat Market, the building at 1702 Federal St. has always had a special place in our hearts. The building seemed like it was in terrible condition, but the exterior had some wonderful features that suggested an interesting past. The first floor facade was covered in little tiles, and an old rusty sign hovered above the front door. We always suspected it was once a bar, but couldn't tell you for sure.

Back in 2011

Sometime in the last couple of years, the sign disappeared. Also, the building deteriorated to the point that you could see the sky through the second floor window opening.

Last summer

At some point in the last few months, the building disappeared.

This seems like another missed opportunity

While discussions slowly percolate on the future of Washington Avenue, the present continues to change. Tonight at 6pm at CAPA the second public meeting will take place to discuss the Phila2035 South District Plan, a planning document which we understand will include the remapping of both sides of Washington Avenue. In the meantime, west of Broad Street, almost every parcel is zoned for industrial use- though many would argue it would be an ideal mixed-use corridor moving forward. Sadly, until that remapping happens, the current zoning designations are hampering forward-looking projects while encouraging backward-looking projects. To wit, consider the overturned mixed-use project at 1601 Washington Ave. and the planned storage facility at 2300 Washington Ave. which can be built by right.

Storage facility is planned here. It'll be a sixy-foot cube.

If you look to the east of the future storage facility, at 2318 Washington Ave. there's a collection of zoning notices associated with the old EHC Food and a former substation. Plans here, as presented last week to the community, call for a second-hand furniture, home goods, and building supply store from Habitat for Humanity called ReStore. The project will include 33 parking spaces.

Shades of the same block of Chadwick Street

Point Breeze has seen quite a bit of redevelopment over the last several years, but some blocks have mysteriously dodged the wave of construction. But it's often those blocks that are poised for the most dramatic transformations. Take for example, the 1300 block of Chadwick Street. One year ago, the eastern side of this block was 80% vacant, and empty lots dotted the west side of the block as well. Visit the block today and you'll find a bushel of new homes that have been constructed in the last twelve months and several others still under construction. Yes, that's a little bit of self promotion, as OCF Realty, the company that owns this blog, is the broker for many of those homes. But it's relevant self promotion!!!

Now it seems a similar situation is unfolding a couple blocks away on the 1300 block of S. Cleveland St., a block that looked somewhat bleak until recently.

In the past

To be fair, this block was in better shape than Chadwick Street, as most of one side of the block has remained relatively intact. But you can see, the east side of the street was entirely vacant. We stopped by this block earlier today, and the situation is quite different.