South Kensington

Big developments are moving along

The past year or so has brought a whirlwind of change to 5th Street in South Kensington, and since it all seems to be going pretty well, how about a little bit more? Over just a few days during the summer of 2015, we told you about two major projects coming to the 1200 block of N. 5th Street. We weren't totally sure that either of these projects would happen, let alone both. But if you visit this block today, you'll see that there's a bunch of construction on the east and west side of the street.

Eastern side of the street, umbrella factory in the distance

As we told you previously, this project will entail a total of 45 units, with 14 duplexes on 5th Street, 7 duplexes on Orkney Street, a mixed-use building at 5th & Thompson, and a dog park on Orkney Street. You can see in the photo above that construction progressing nicely. Here's an idea of what's coming, thanks to the architects at Harman Deutsch.

Project rendering

Looking across the street, we see that the other project is also totally happening. This project will eventually mean 29 units, 20 parking spaces, no retail, and absolutely no dog park. Eh, it's fine, people will just walk around the corner.

Or is it something else entirely?

So we were a little confused when we saw that there was a proposal for 71 new apartments at the northeast corner of 8th & Thompson. In a vacuum, this might seem like the logical next step in the progression of development in South Kensington. We've already covered several projects on 6th Street, and some additional projects on 7th Street, so why wouldn't it make sense for the development to spread to 8th Street? Let us count the ways.

Currently a parking lot

One major issue is the viaduct running over 9th Street. Between the sheer wall and the noise from the trains, the adjacent blocks are certainly less desirable. But the viaduct hasn't stopped other projects to the north, closer to Temple, like Paseo Verde. And we'd say that the El is far worse in terms of noise, and parts of Front Street are booming. So maybe the viaduct isn't such a big deal after all.

Right where 3rd Street reappears in South Kensington

A reader tipped us off about some zoning notices at 1602-04 N. 3rd St. in South Kensington, and we decided to investigate. On our way to this property though, it came to our attention that 3rd Street disappears for several blocks in this neighborhood, ending at Thompson Street and resuming at Oxford Street. Seems like something that we should have known but has somehow escaped our attention until now. But we digress.

Current view

Considering the consistent development we've seen in South Kensington of late, we'd say that these garages are not the highest and best use for this property. Developers bought the garages about half a year ago, paying $110K for the privilege. Before you go off thinking they got a steal, you should know that even though the property has 38' of frontage and a pre-existing curb cut, it only goes back to a maximum of 35'. So that kind of limits what you can do here. The developers have proposed a triplex with a single parking spot, and we'll have to wait and see what the ZBA says about the variance, as the property is only zoned for single-family use.

There's a hole in the ground!

It was over three years ago that we first told you about Soko Lofts and Liberty Square, two major projects that we predicted would change the face of South Kensington. Both promised the transformation of large former industrial properties into mixed-use developments with hundreds of units, multiple retail spaces, and Piazza-like common spaces. Needless to say, we were extremely excited, predicting that these projects would spur a ton of additional development in South Kensington.

Today, neither project has become a reality, but the neighborhood has nevertheless experienced a development surge. About two years ago, we told you that construction was getting started at Liberty Square at 1203 Germantown Ave., but aside from some demolition work the site has sat mostly quiescent. When we passed by the property earlier this week though, we spied something very exciting- a construction fence, a hole in the ground, and heavy machinery actively working on the site!

Not like the ski lodge but still something different

Sure, we haven't been to Front Street for a little while, but now our Front Street coverage is returning in force, with multiple posts in the same week! You may remember that just a couple of days ago, we told you about the upcoming renovation of a church turned warehouse on the 1500 block, which commenters have clarified will be turned into office space. Today we turn our attention to the 1800 block, where a long vacant lot is seeing some new construction activity.

View from the north

1814-16 N. Front St. is a large lot which stretches all the way to Hope Street. You can see in the image above that developers have constructed a new building on each lot, and according to the permits each building will contain three residential units. Residential buildings are by-right here, as the properties are zoned for multi-family use. We'd have guessed that the properties would be zoned commercial, but the homes next door would suggest otherwise.