South Kensington

Affordable housing springs up in South Kensington

We've covered several significant residential proposals in South Kensington over the last few years but we're still waiting for most of them to materialize. So it's no small thing that the Tajdeed Residences project which we first told you about in March of 2014 is approaching the finish line. By the time we got around to covering it, the project had already been in the works for a couple of years and was about to go before the ZBA. Remember, several of the properties making up this large project were acquired via eminent domain, which resulted in resistance to the project from some near neighbors. Despite this, the project is now approaching completion.

Demolition, plus a new owned for a huge property

This is our third time reporting on the 1400 block of Germantown Avenue this year, and we're not ruling out making another visit before Old Lang Syne rings out across the world. In January, two homes were under construction, some old buildings were getting demolished, and a bunch of foundations were apparent on the northern side of the block. When we checked back over the summer, the two homes had moved along, the demolition was finished, and there were homes atop the aforementioned foundations. When we went to this block last week, there was more change in the air.

Demolition at the corner of Germantown & Master

When we were here last, we shared the good news that 1400 Germantown Ave., the rough looking yellow building at the corner, had recently changed hands. But we didn't know what was happening next. It turns out, we still don't know what's happening with this property. But we can tell you that the building is in the process of getting demolished. The property could accommodate two homes, though the developers will have to go to the ZBA to get around the commercial zoning. Note, the two homes to the north are still under construction.

And we're glad to see it

We're generally pleased to see development of all shapes and sizes, but it's particuarly satisfying when we see a delayed project finally moving forward. It was almost four years ago that we first told you about K'House, a teamup between Indy Hall and Postgreen to create the first cohousing project in South Kensington. The plan for K'House (pronounced like Ka-boom) at 1711 N. Howard St. called for six units, each with a small kitchen and living area, along with a shared living room, a large shared kitchen, and a shared roof deck.

Old rendering

It seemed like an interesting concept, and South Kensington Community Partners supported it. But as we told you during the winter of 2013, for reasons we don't quite understand, the ZBA didn't approve the project. So Postgreen built and sold a new home on Howard Street, putting K'House temporarily on the shelf.

Different developers on different sides of the street

The 1300 block of N. 6th St. is slowly transforming thanks to the work of different developers, all of whom are building residential projects. As recently as 2011, the block looked like this:

Just a few years ago

That's a lot of vacant land, but compared to some other blocks nearby, it's actually not so bad. We first visited this block several years ago, when two triplexes were under construction on the east side of the block. Those buildings have been completed and sold off as condos, and now the two lots next door are under construction.

East side of the street

At 1311-13 N. 6th St., the same developer is at it again. We're guessing they'll go for condos this time too, since they had success selling off the units in the first two buildings. Interestingly, three of the four lots were acquired from the Redevelopment Authority. So often, we complain that the City hardly ever sells of its properties. But in this case, they've sold vacant lots for a change and you can see what's happening. The block is getting better, who coulda guessed?

Site has been dormant since 2011

It was at the end of 2011 that we first brought your attention to seven homes, then new, at the corner of Mascher & Master in South Kensington. A developer with ties to Tower Investments, or maybe just a subsidiary, had demolished an old warehouse and had plans to build dozens of additional homes at this location, wrapping around Master and Howard Streets. But since then, it's been mostly radio silence. In 2013, some heavy equipment on Howard Street suggested that this project might be ramping up, but it was just a false alarm. Now, finally, we're seeing some new progress.

Last week, a hole in the ground at Howard & Master

At the corner of Howard & Master, with views of a sweet South Kensington mural, a reader recently spotted a new hole. According to permits, three homes will soon rise here. We're getting some mixed messages as we search different public record sources, but we believe a new developer has purchased these lots, and this construction will have no direct bearing on the larger project planned for the block. But perhaps this small amount of construction, along with much more significant construction a few paces away, will inspire the developers to revisit this property.