South Kensington

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.

Now we're looking at 7th Street

Just a few days ago, we told you about six homes planned for 1500 N. Randolph St., and at the same time pointed to two other projects nearby. This clearly inspired a couple of readers in the neighborhood, as they quickly brought our attention to some additional construction a block away, at the northeast corner of 7th & Jefferson. Three lots sat vacant for many years at this corner, but now we see that developers have framed out three new buildings.

NE corner of 7th & Jefferson

Looking at the permits, the northern properties are duplexes and the developers are going to zoning to get approval for a duplex at the corner. It's a little unorthodox to be going to the ZBA for a use change in the middle of construction- perhaps the original plans had the corner property as mixed-use since it's zoned CMX-2, and the developers quickly realized that new construction retail is totally out of the question here. Or maybe this was always the plan, who knows. Looking at the shuttered bodega across the street, you can see why we're not so optimistic about retail here.

Why not see how a first phase works out?

A few months ago, we told you about a five-home project in the works at 6th & Jefferson which is now under construction. Around the corner, at the corner of Randolph & Oxford, demolition has wrapped up and a six home project is on the way. In between these projects, at 1500 N. Randolph St., sits a rather large property that's been sitting vacant for many years. According to historic maps, the Consolidated Cigar Company had a factory here at one point, but it disappeared at some point between the 1960s and 2007.

In the past. Also, this shows how far back the lot goes

With all of the construction happening nearby, it seems like it was only a matter of time before this property caught the redevelopment bug. We passed by the other day and discovered some heave machinery and a hole in the ground, so it seems the day has come. The 30K+ sqft property was listed for sale back in 2014, selling in a few months for $850K. At the end of last year, developers presented a plan to the ZBA to subdivide the property into seven parcels and build six homes.

One more exciting than the other

When we told you last week about twelve new units coming to the 300 block of Cecil B. Moore Ave., we didn't think we'd be back in this neck of the woods quite so quickly. But as is often the case, the story inspired a reader to reach out to us with news of other development happening nearby, and when we initially snapped photos we didn't do the greatest job exploring the surrounding blocks. Our bad. So here we are again on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, this time looking at two zoning notices at the intersection with North American Street.

Zoning notice on the southeast corner
Zoning notice on the northeast corner

The zoning notice on the south side is a very straightforward project. Developers purchased 224 Cecil B. Moore Ave. at the end of last year and are looking to build a single-family home on this lot, which is one off from the corner. The project has to go to the ZBA because the parcel is zoned for industrial use. This makes sense, as it's almost on N. American Street, but on the other hand it's not even 1,000 sqft in size, and we're not sure what kind of industrial user would be able to do anything with such a small parcel. 

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