South Kensington

Not sure how we missed this previously

We were dodging the raindrops in South Kensington today and happened upon a building under construction on the southeast corner of Hancock & Thompson. This property had been sitting vacant for a number of years, surrounded by a fence overgrown with ivy. Developers bought the parcel about a year and quickly set about building an eight-unit residential building, a project which happened to be by-right. They've made some nice progress thus far.


In the past

Current view

Harman Deutsch did the design work for this project, and thanks to the listings for the condo units in the building, we can show you an elevations drawing which will give you a sense of what the building will look like when it's finished. We're into the look, and especially appreciate the double hung multi-pane windows. Though it'll be new construction, it will probably look like a warehouse conversion, and that fits in well for this neighborhood.

And seemingly stalled construction across the street

Apparently 332-34 W. Girard Ave. was a pizza shop called P&S Pizza once upon a time, but we cannot remember a time that it was in business in the last decade. In our memory, this property has just been sitting empty, slowly looking worse as the years have passed. Chipped paint, a fading sign, and sagging awnings were all part of a look that screamed "the rest of this corridor might be improving, but here, it's still 1997."

It should come as no surprise that the building racked up some violations over the years, and in one case, we see that the owners of the property successfully fought against a designation that the building was a blighting influence. Neat trick.


In the past

But wait, we passed by the property recently and noticed that it's getting renovated. Sakes alive! This major renovation effort includes interior and exterior work and could portend a new business opening up shop here. That's all the info we have at the moment, though if someone in the neighborhood knows something more, we encourage them to speak up on the matter. For the record, we would have rather seen the one story building demolished and replaced with a mixed-use building. But hey, it's not our property and (technically) none of our business.

Who knew there was a Guest Street in Philadelphia?

Last week, we told you about plans for five new homes on the north side of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, on a parcel that runs from Howard to Hope Street. Unfortunately, it wasn't until a few days later that a reader notified us about a few zoning notices just steps away from this property, on the 1600 block of Hope Street. So we had to go back to the neighborhood, camera in hand, to snap some more photos. Currently, there's a two-story home at 1612 Hope St., with a pair of vacant lots next door. If developers have their way, the home will be demolished and three new single family homes will rise here, at the corner of Hope & Guest. And now you know there's such a thing as Guest Street in Philadelphia.


Peanut. Hazelnut. Cashew nut.

Uh, we mean...


Zoning notices

The lots are zoned for industrial use and are each about 14'x44', hence the need for zoning variances. Given all the development that's happened in the immediate area though, we would think this project will get approved.

Weird block seeing developer interest

We first visited the 1200 block of N. Leithgow Street about three years ago, when we heard about plans for two new homes at the northern end of the block. At the time, we expressed hope that this project would inspire additional development on the block, which has a numerous empty lots on its eastern side and a large surface parking lot for the Saint John Neumann Shrine on its western side. Needless to say, the parking lot isn't going away any time soon, so it's a safe guess that we've got some info on plans for the east side.


Looking south on the 1200 block of N. Leithgow

Currently, developers have their sights on five properties on this block which have been sitting vacant for many years. Zoning notices are posted at 1217, 1219, and 1227 N. Leithgow St., and plans call for new homes. The lots are only 40' deep, but they're 17' wide, which should allow for pretty solid layouts. The homes that we covered three years ago were built on similar lots and each sold for around $400K back in 2015, and assuming they get approval from the ZBA, these homes will certainly sell for more.

Across from the Kensington castled

There's a zoning notice posted on the northeast corner of N. Howard Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue that we foolishly assumed, at first glance, meant that developers were planning a new home at this corner. Immediately to the north are a pair of homes that were built in the last few years by Postgreen, and another home to cap off the block seemed entirely reasonable.


View on Howard Street

But we were entirely off base! It turns out that 1701 N. Howard St. isn't a small residential lot, but in fact it stretches all the way to Hope Street. Developers bought this 4,500 sqft parcel last summer for the low low price of $140K and are now planning to subdivide it into five lots and build five new homes. The property is only zoned for single family use and it's got an unusual shape, so the project will be getting numerous refusals and will need to go to the ZBA (hence the zoning notice). Still, this project seems entirely reasonable to us.

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