South Kensington

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.

Across the street from the castle of South Kensington

South Kensington is getting some new homes, this time less than a block from the El.

We were passing through the neighborhood yesterday after knocking down a delicious cup of coffee at La Colombe on Frankford Avenue and spied two new homes that have appeared on the 100 block of Turner Street. This parcel was most recently an empty lot, and before that a blighted warehouse took up half of the property. It was demolished in the last couple years.

In the past

As we mentioned and as you can see in the image above, two homes are currently under construction, but three more foundations sit to the west, waiting for their moment in the sun. The project is called Turner Court and BMK Homes are the developers behind this project. We've seen a bunch of projects from them in this neck of the woods, also in Fishtown and East Kensington. As seems to be the case with all their projects, KJO Architecture has done the design work.

New construction, demolition, and zoning notices

During the cold winter months, we visited the 1400 block of Germantown Avenue, noting a block in transition. At that time, seven new homes were under construction and several older buildings were getting demolished. We promised we'd come back, and when we revisited the block earlier this week, we saw some changes since last time.

Looking up the block

The two homes at 1404 Germantown Ave. have progressed, as you can see. Last time we were here, they were only framed out to two stories. At least one of these homes is under agreement at a list price just under $400K. Moving forward, another house will appear next door, joining two more homes fronting Orianna Street.

Zoning notice for three duplexes

Moving up the block, the one-story building at 1418-22 Germantown Ave. has been available for sale for quite some time. Public record doesn't reflect that new buyers have stepped in, but the zoning notices on the building indicate otherwise. Developers, who perhaps have a zoning contingency, have plans for three duplexes on this site, each with a single parking spot. This isn't a done deal yet, as the ZBA will need to grant permission, but one would have to imagine some kind of project will rise here in the near future.

Something new for American Street, but there's room for much more

In South Kensington, wide and often bare American Street is a leftover underused thoroughfare from the era when industrial work dominated this section of Philadelphia. With wide open lots and plenty of room, we've been wondering if developers might begin to see American Street as an opportunity for reinvestment, given consistent building nearby and in the neighboring Fishtown and Northern Liberties neighborhoods. And it seems that change is already afoot.

Last month, the ZBA approved a proposal to build a mixed-use building at 1500 N American St. with an art gallery on the first floor and an owner's apartment unit. There will also be a parking space included. Before the building can be built, the garage that now occupies the parcel must first be razed. We think the building was once an auto shop, so a gallery will represent a nice improvement.

Recent view

We wondered about this area in the waning days of 2013. At the time we noted the vacant lot across the street, on the SWC next to the Crane Arts building. Actually, anywhere you look across the street here, there are vacancies. Meanwhile, since then, a new manufacturing facility was constructed a block to the north, the result of a collaboration between the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and Veyko.