South Kensington

Development keeps drifting north and west in South Kensington

We've seen heaps of development close to Front Street in South Kensington lately, but today we turn our gaze to the western edge of the neighborhood. The last time we visited 6th Street, we had news of several multi-unit buildings under construction, improving a long-blighted stretch between Thompson and Master Streets. Clearly, developers are paying attention to these changes, as we just learned about plans for five new homes a block to the north at 6th & Jefferson.

View of the lot

This property has been vacant for many years, owned by the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises since the early 1990s. While it's possible that this project is being developed by HACE (public record doesn't show a change in ownership), we'd wager a new developer has stepped in with plans for market rate housing. This theory would seem to be consistent with the sign on the site advertising five new homes with prices starting at $325K.

Not apartments as we suspected

South Kensington is getting some more homes, it seems. For the last couple of years at least, there's been a sign on the one-story garage at 1417-1419 N. Howard St., advertising that the building is available for lease. Since nobody was interested in renting the building, it'll soon get torn down.

Garage, formerly for lease

Developers have purchased this building, along with the vacant lots next door.

Rest of the property

Last week, the developers went to the ZBA with a plan to build eleven homes here, designed by KCA Design Associates. We visited the architects' website and were able to find renderings and a site plan. This shows us that five of the homes will be built on Howard Street, and six will come on Hope Street. It seems they'll also build a twelfth home on Master Street. The design, you can see, are fairly contemporary, and it looks like the drive-aisle will be accessed via Hope Street.

A condo building and a new restaurant

Though Frankford Avenue is just a few steps away in South Kensington, a section of Front Street is beginning to reassert its long lost status as a commercial corridor. Just a couple of years ago, the intersection of Front & Master was home to just one business, the El Bar. On the other corners you'd have found an apartment building, a vacant former distillery with wonderful bones, and a one-story garage with less wonderful bones. But changes have come quickly.

About two years ago, we were excited to share the news that the aforementioned garage on the northwest corner was getting converted into a restaurant. By the end of 2014, Good Spoon Soupery had opened their retail location, giving fans from farmers' markets a place to get their soup on the regular. They did a fine job converting the building, too.

Who will lease those spaces?

To the east of Front Street, Fishtown continues to flourish. Ditto South Kensington to the west. As a result, developers continue to look to Front Street even though the El continues to rumble across the elevated tracks every day and night. A couple years ago, we told you about plans for development at 1210-14 N. Front St. which came into focus after some back and forth with the community.

Initially, the developers presented plans for three homes on Hope Street and three duplexes on Front Street to South Kensington Community Partners. But the community didn't like the idea of only residential buildings on Front, so the developers altered their proposal to include commercial space on the first floors of the buildings on Front Street, each with two apartments above. If you visit this address today, you'll see that a surface parking lot has indeed been replaced by two buildings on Front Street and three homes on Hope Street.

Duplex around the corner is under agreement

Howard Street in North Kensington is getting two more homes. We were in the neighborhood the other day and noticed two homes under construction at 1509-11 N. Howard St., formerly a vacant lot. We'd guess that they've been under construction for the last couple of months and you'd think we'd have mentioned them before, but alas they haven't shown up on our radar until now.

Two new homes

These homes are rising immediately to the south of Oxford Mills, a textile mill that was converted into apartments for teachers and non-profit workers. Oxford Mills also happens to be home to the excellent and cool looking Gryphon Coffee. Try the Brussel Sprout Grilled Cheese.

Oxford Mills is right next door

Around the corner from these new homes, we told you about a new duplex under construction back in March. At the time, we were surprised (as usual) that developers were building so close to the El, and we wondered whether it would take awhile to sell the units.