South Kensington

A biggie in the middle too, maybe

A couple years back, we predicted that two large projects, Liberty Square and Soko Lofts, would transform the South Kensington neighborhood and bring new attention to an area that teemed with potential. After a lengthy delay, Liberty Square finally got moving in December, but progress has been slow. And the Soko Lofts project hasn't moved forward at all. Remember, that project would bring 311 apartments, 4-6 retail spaces, and about a hundred parking spots to a giant lot surrounded by 2nd, Thompson, American, and Master Streets. This photo from a couple years ago still pretty much applies today.

Future Soko Lofts?

Recently, we learned that the project may have new life. Last week, a slightly revised plan (with 320 units) went before the community at a South Kensington Community Partnership meeting. But it was overwhelming rejected by those in attendance. The developers will either revise their plans to meet community concerns or chance it with the ZBA. But the fact that there's even a conversation about this project two years after it first came on the scene indicates that something could soon be happening here.

As it is, there are two projects nearby that are at least worth mentioning. First, let's turn our eye to 1317 N. 2nd St., where developers have replaced an old home with a new home.

Looks like nothing we've ever seen

1312 N. Front St. is like nothing we've seen, and we've seen most of the construction in this town in the last five years. Traveling under the El, it catches the eye right away.

Getting framed out
Closer look
View on Hope Street

The building, which is being built on the site of a surface parking lot, has the profile of a ski slope or a lousy roller coaster. According to permits, it will ultimately contain six apartments and a retail space on Front Street. We got our mitts on some renderings from Interface Studio Architects, and you can see just how cool this building is gonna look when it's finished.

Development keeps spreading to the north

South Kensington continues to see new projects pop up, and as the neighborhood changes we're seeing projects drift further from the middle of the action. There have certainly been exceptions, the bulk of the construction activity in the area has taken place east of 4th Street. But today we look at an addition to the growing list of said exceptions.

Previously, 1321-25 N. 7th St. was a fenced-in lot, not a bad look considering how bad so many other lots look in this neighborhood.

In the past

Visit the site today and you see something very different.

Current view

The first three bays that you see are part of the same project, the N7 Condos. Developers purchased the properties last year and are building three triplex condo buildings. The layout is standard, with a 1st floor-basement unit, a 2nd floor unit, and a 3rd floor unit with roof deck access. Toner Architects did the design work. Though you can get a pretty good idea of what the project will look like given the exterior progress, here's a rendering anyway.

Across the street from another big project that's coming

Earlier this week, we told you about an exciting plan for the 1200 block of N. 5th St. in South Kensington for 21 duplexes, a mixed-use building, and a public dog park supported by the development. Not only was this exciting news because (almost) everyone loves dog parks, but also because it meant the end of the road for a long vacant lot. As if that wasn't good enough news for this block, today we have info about another significant project right across the street.

Looking up 5th Street. Former umbrella factory in the distance
Zoning notice on the property

1216-26 N. 5th St., like its neighbor to the east, has been a vacant lot for quite some time. And like that neighbor, it will soon get redeveloped, assuming the ZBA approves. The property is actually the combination of six parcels that had been owned by three different parties, so kudos to the developers for putting these lots together into one project. Last month, they appeared before South Kensington Community Partners and presented a plan to build twenty-nine apartments with twenty car parking spaces and ten bike spots. A sign on the fence suggests that Continuum Architecture has done the design work.

Currently a large and overgrown lot

South Kensington has come a very long way in the last few years, but it still possesses entirely too many enormous vacant lots. This doesn't really come as much of a surprise- it's actually to be expected when witnessing the redevelopment of a neighborhood once dominated by industry. But today we have good news on this fine Monday! One of those aforementioned big lots should soon be on the outs.

Currently, the east side of 5th Street south of Thompson is an overgrown mess. It's only half a block from Girard Avenue though, making it a excellent candidate for redevelopment. Last week, developers for 1213 N. 5th St. came before the community in a South Kensington Community Partners meeting to present information on their big plans for the parcel. Without even seeing the plans yet, you can imagine it would be an improvement.

Looking north on 5th Street
Looking south

But it just so happens, we've seen the plans, thanks to the good people at Harman Deutsch. And they do indeed make for a fine improvement over what we see today. The project will entail 14 duplexes on 5th Street, 7 duplexes on Orkney Street, a mixed-use building at the corner of 5th & Thompson, and a dog park. The site plan also shows 45 parking spaces for the 45 units that will be created.