South Kensington

Misleading name for South Kensington project

In the real estate business, nomenclature can be a funny thing. For years, many realtors referred to the Graduate Hospital neighborhood as South Rittenhouse, hoping to assuage buyer or renter concerns about a transitioning neighborhood. More recently, we've seen northern Point Breeze homes located in "South Graduate," Brewerytown homes in "Fairmount North," and Port Richmond homes in "Upper Fishtown." The trend continues for a project on the 1300 block of N. Howard St. which we first told you about over a year ago. Though the project is very much located in South Kensington, it's being called the "Town Homes at Liberties North." Love it.

Low-res aerial view

As we told you about previously, and as you can see in the image above, the project involves the construction of ten homes at 1323-33 N. Howard St. and eleven homes on the 1300 block of N. Hope Street. In the past, a large warehouse and some dilapidated homes were on this site, but those came down sometime last year. Presently, the homes on Howard Street have been framed out and remarkably seven have already been put under agreement.

Quite the transformation

In the spring of 2012, we first told you about plans from D3 Developers (a company that somehow doesn't employ anyone who was in any of the Mighty Ducks movies) to convert the former dye works at 100 W. Oxford St. into a mixed-use development called Oxford Mills. Back then, the building, which had most recently held a lamp design company, was sitting vacant and looking kind of rough. Today, it looks fantastic.

View from the west
Looking down Howard St.

This project is unique in that it specifically targets teachers. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, 60% of the 114 apartments in this building are available at discounted rates for educators. The remaining units are market rate. At this time, about three-quarters of the residential units in the building are leased.

Never a bad thing

In April of 2013, we told you about a new home rising at the corner of Orianna & Thompson in South Kensington. That home looks like it's done (as well it should be, a year plus later), though a construction fence remains around the property.

Home on the corner of Orianna St.

At the same time, we told you about two blighted homes on the 300 block of West Thompson Street. The homes lacked windows and generally looked all kinds of crappy. They were both tax delinquent to the extent that the City could have sent them to Sheriff's Sale. And according to a commenter, both were purchased with a fake deed, and the original owners were fighting in court to get their properties back.

In the past

We don't know whether it was something judicial or simply the market, but both homes have since turned over. Developers Thirty3 LLC bought 331 W. Thompson St. in April, and 333 W. Thompson St. last October. They wasted little time in demolishing the old buildings, and have framed out two new single family homes where they once stood. Note, the new homes have little boxes on them to hold the required permits. So it's all on the up and up.

Who will lease the space?

South Kensington and Fishtown are both experiencing a development renaissance, and the good stuff finally seems to be trickling to Front Street, under the El. We've documented plenty of examples of blight under the El, and just recently we've noticed a string of renovation there. For example, a garage is currently being converted to a soup place at Front & Master, across from a future drinking establishment in a renovated former distillery. At Front & Oxford, a massive adaptive reuse project is taking place, converting an old dye works into a mixed-use development. And right near Girard, a new construction project at 1210 N. Front St. just got approval from the ZBA.

New residents coming soon

A couple of years ago, Hope Street on either side of West Thompson Street felt pretty bleak. The southwest corner featured the backyards of a row of relatively new homes that face Howard Street. The northeast corner had a row of faded stucco homes, steps from the El. And the other two corners were vacant. Last year, Postgreen built a project called Duplexcellence on the southeast corner, which we covered at the time. Now, there's more change coming to this intersection.

Looking toward the El. This looks the same.
Duplexcellence, part one

We passed by here a little over a week ago, and came upon a couple of projects at different stages of construction. Right behind the row of stucco homes, at 1303 N. Hope St., a new mixed-use building has been framed. According to permits, the first floor is for parking and commercial use and two apartments are planned on the upper floors. This is way better than the overgrown vacant lot that was here before.