South Kensington

Maybe the large lot will be redeveloped sometime soon?

We were in South Kensington the other week and noticed a new foundation at 1527 Hancock St., a small lot that had sat vacant for many years. Looking at public record, it appears that the bank foreclosed on the property back in 2006 and the current owners bought it from the bank in 2012. It took a couple of years but it looks like they finally got around to building a new single family home here. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the empty lot immediately to the north, currently home to a pile of dirt, is any closer to redevelopment, as it's been owned by the same party since 2001.

Foundation is already there

While it's great to see a one-off project like this moving forward, this block has the potential for something much bigger at its southern end. Back in 2012, we told you about plans to build 18 homes at 171 Jefferson St., then a large vacant lot. In the years since, a big new project has appeared immediately to the west, but nothing has changed at the aforementioned vacant lot.

Building looks lousy

Though South Kensington has experienced a wave of redevelopment, there are still many buildings in the neighborhood that remain in poor condition. It's unfair to pick on one, but that's just what we're doing today as we consider 406-408 W. Jefferson St., a former auto garage. The property came to our attention recently as a neighbor noticed a violation posted on the door. There's also a construction fence surrounding the front, forcing pedestrians into the street.

Orange violation notice on the building

The building wouldn't even stick out all the much but for the second story, which seems to be a cinderblock wall with nothing behind it. It has a raft of violations on it, the most recent of which declares the building unsafe. The building got new owners at the end of last year, and we wonder whether they'll simply demolish the building and replace it with two townhomes. Should that happen, the people who eventually move here will have a newly renovated park in their backyard.

Replacing a vacant lot

As recently as five years ago, the south side of Oxford Street between Howard and Mascher Streets was a large vacant lot, and the building immediately to the east was home to a lamp factory that looked like crap. What a difference a few years has made for this small stretch and South Kensington as a whole.

In the past
Current view

Of course, we told you about this development before any of it happened. A few years ago, we told you about plans to convert the Pieri lamp factory, originally a dye works, into Oxford Mills, a mixed-use building targeting teachers and non-profit workers. And it was just over two years ago that we told you about plans from D3 Developers for ten homes ar 120 W. Oxford St., the aforementioned vacant lot. In the time that's passed since then, all of the homes have been completed and from what we can tell all of them have sold. At the very least, none are currently listed for sale. Prices for the homes ranged between $400K and $440K, from what we can tell.

But there's still room for more development

We've had our eye on the 1200 block of N. 7th St. for a couple years now, ever since four homes and a mixed-use building replaced a vacant lot at the corner of 7th & Thompson. With that project in mind and numerous blighted buildings and vacant lots immediately to the south, we figured it was only a matter of time before new projects came along for this block. About a year ago, we learned of plans to build six triplexes at 1216-22 N. 7th St., and it appears that two of them are currently under construction with more to come. 

Triplexes framed on the west side of the block

This is great news, as these lots have been vacant for longer than we can remember (and possibly longer than we've been alive). If we may pile on the good news on this Wednesday morning, we recently noticed zoning notices across the street.

Better than demolition, right?

It seems that South Kensington will soon see another warehouse turn into apartments. Last week, the ZBA gave their approval to a plan for new construction plus an addition at 1508 Mascher St. and the creation of 22 apartments and 8 parking spots. The building has been home to Spencer Industries for decades, with the company producing custom signs for hundreds of clients over the years.

Building has nice bones

We reached out to Spencer to learn about next steps for the company, but we couldn't get anyone on the phone. We hope that they'll remain in business, just at another location. It's a fair assumption that they will move to another space, perhaps outside the city, and the sale of their property has less to do with their business and more to do with the strong demand for real estate in South Kensington. Just a block away, you'll recall, is the Oxford Mills project, which saw an old dye works building converted into apartments for teachers and office space for non-profits. There's also a pretty good coffee shop there.