Temple Area

Will probably just get torn down

Our first visit to the 1500 block of N. 16th St. came several years ago, when we discovered a stucco box apartment building filling a vacant lot next to an architectural gem. We were cheered back in 2014 when we learned that a larger apartment building was under construction next door, blocking views of the aforementioned stucco box. While the new architecture doesn't hold even a faint candle to the old, the block has seen some serious infill in the last few years.

1500 block of N. 16th St. in the past
Block looks quite different today

Today we direct your attention to 1511 N. 16th St., the amazing Victorian mansion that's currently home to the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity. This building has been used for student housing for many years, but may retain some of its original interior architectural details. About ten years ago, the property was listed for sale with this amazing description:

But it's not finished

This must a record- two visits to the area around Temple in one week, and nothing about student housing. Today, we come back to a project that we first told you about two and a half years ago. On the southwest corner of 16th & Oxford, a large old building was last used as a community center, run by the North Philadelphia Seventh Day Adventist church. When we last checked in on the property, it was under construction with plans for twenty-five apartments, church offices, and continued use as a community center. But work was moving very slowly.

A couple years ago

You'd think, with the time that's passed, the project would be finished by now. But you'd be incorrect. Yes, there's been some progress, with the front wall now stuccoed over, but there's still a fence around the building and a bunch of windows missing on the first floor. Several violations came up last year, some of which are still outstanding. 

Most of homes are sold too

We last checked in on the Ingersoll Commons project about a year and a half ago, when construction fences had just appeared at a long-vacant lot at 16th & Master. This lot had been owned by City agencies since the 1980s, and a few years back Community Ventures was selected as the developer for the parcel with a plan for a green space and ten homes to be sold at affordable prices. As you're probably well aware, almost all of the new construction in this area is built with an eye toward student rentals, making this project a very transparent effort by the City to foster a project that targets non-students/people that already live in the area.

In the time that's passed since our last visit, the homes have been finished and many have sold, according to the Community Ventures Facebook page. We aren't sure about the final sale prices, but earlier articles pegged the prices for the 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom homes at around $140K per home.

Two quadplexes planned for Sydenham Street

Just a block and a half from the Pearl Theater on Broad Street, the 1600 block of N. Sydenham Street is pretty much in Temple's backyard. You'd think, given the location, that the entire block would be student housing. But it's actually a mix of vacant land, older homes, buildings that have been renovated into student housing, and new construction student housing.

It's a mix on the west side of the block

The Open Door Community FBH Church has also made its home at 1609 N. Sydenham St. for many years, but zoning notices on the building and the property next door indicate that the church has either closed its doors or moved to another location.

Zoning notices

The zoning notices indicate plans to demolish the two buildings and construct a pair of quadplexes in their place. It goes without saying that these new buildings will target Temple students, like every other newer building on the block. We should mention, since the ZBA gave their approval last month, it's only a matter of time before these buildings come down. We wish we could have seen them when they were first built, the northern property looks like it might have been a stable at one point.

Vacant buildings still should come down

There's more demolition coming to the 1400 block of North 15th Street. About a year and a half ago, we discovered that 1415 N. 15th St. was coming down. It was a shame to see this structure, an older building with a brownstone face on its first floor and offset upper floors, succumb to the construction boom in the area, as we guessed that whatever was coming in its place wouldn't match its architectural character. We were correct, as the new eight-unit building does not compare to what was lost.

Four stories and a metal bay for 1415 N. 15th Street

Just a few doors down, a similar fate should soon befall 1407-09 N. 15th St., yet another interesting older building. We wish we could have seen this place when it was first built, as we would bet that the one-story structure with a battlement-themed cornice is not the original architecture.