A couple of weeks ago, the Inquirer ran a story about the Columbia Avenue riot of 1964. Even fifty years later, the effects of this event can be felt on what is now called Cecil B. Moore Avenue, a once vibrant commercial corridor that never fully recovered. With a student housing boom, some blocks close to Temple have experienced redevelopment in recent years. But further away from the school, there's still a ton of blight and vacancy. Take, for instance, the south side of the 2100 block:
In the past
We passed by this block last week and discovered that it's very much under construction. Rather than residential development, as you might first expect, this will instead be a relocated community wellness center.
It was almost two years ago that we first told you about Ingersoll Commons, a ten home affordable housing development from Community Ventures on the 1600 block of Master Street. Since we shared this news, there's been no action at this massive vacant lot that's surrounded on all sides by a student housing construction boom. And Temple University. But earlier this summer, when we showed you a new hole in the ground nearby, we mentioned that an official groundbreaking had taken place and that construction should be starting soon. Soon is apparently now.
Big empty lot
The ten homes will appear behind the fence you see pictured above. Between the homes and 16th Street, a new park is planned. According to Philly.com, we'll be seeing 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom homes with basements. KSK Architects did the design work, and we poached this rendering from the Community Ventures website. Prices start at $140K per home.
Ignoring the occasional giant building built by the university itself and a handful of other exceptions like the buildings at the old Wanamaker School site, most of the new construction we've seen near Temple has been on a smaller scale. Need a new triplex or quadplex? Walk a block or two from Temple's campus and you'll find 'em by the bushel. But today we look at one of the larger new projects we've seen in the area of late, which will contain dozens of units when it's finished.
View of framing last week
We first told you about the project at 1325 N. 15th St., which is being built by Blackstone Development, back in April when it was literally a hole in the ground. The building, which has been dubbed 'The Greenery,' will contain 64 studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units, along with an underground parking garage. Unlike many student housing projects we've seen in this area, the project isn't cramming as many beds into each unit, offering larger units for students to destroy enjoy. There will also be a first floor courtyard area inside the building which will have planters, small trees, and a seating area. Harman Deutsch did the design work.
The last few years have brought an incredible amount of construction activity to the neighborhoods surrounding Temple University, largely in the form of private developers building student housing. Though much of this effort is concentrated on the blocks closest to campus, we've seen some examples of far flung development, like a triplex on the 700 block of Master Street or apartments on the 2300 block of North Park Street. Today, we look at a new project that just started construction that's actually kind of close to campus, but you wouldn't think so from looking around.
Construction getting started
Earlier this year, developers bought and consolidated 1315 and 1317 N. 16th St., which have been vacant for a long time. The lots are on the small side, only 700 sqft each, so combining them makes all kinds of sense. Soon, we'll see a three story building rise here with a commercial space on the first floor and two apartments above. If we had to guess, we'd assume that the developers are building the commercial space with no expectation of finding a business to take it over, but will instead convert it to residential use once the building goes up. We've seen this before on Cecil B, and would have to imagine we'll see it again here. Let's agree, this doesn't exactly look like a viable location for a business at the moment.
October was our last visit to the 1700 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, when two new buildings were finished up and a few more were on the way. At the time, we remarked on the inclusion of "commercial space," as required by the zoning code, but speculated that based on the design the developers never intended for businesses to open but instead would eventually convert those spaces to apartments. We still think that seems likely.
But we're not here today to think about the future of these buildings. No, we're here to make fun of some shiny bay windows.
On the plus side, at least they went with Temple colors, sort of.