It's a pretty safe bet that when we see new construction these days in the neighborhoods surrounding Temple, more student housing is on the way. So that was naturally our first and second guess when we spotted some new foundations and framing on 16th Street, just north of Norris.
New foundations at framing on the 2000 block of N. 16th St.
But if you look carefully at the photo above, you'll see a sign that reveals the actual nature of this project.
Sign on the site tells another story
Holy smokes, it's non-student-housing construction near Temple! Habitat for Humanity is building 21 units of affordable housing in a project they've dubbed Diamond Park. The first phase will mean 12 new homes on a large chunk of land between Page and Fontain Streets, with groundbreaking taking place last month. It appears as though all of the foundations have been poured, with two of the homes partially framed so far.
View of the first couple of homes
The second phase of this project will take place just to the north, on a large parcel at the northwest corner of 16th & Fontain. All of these lots were previously owned by City agencies or PHA.
We're unapologetically pro-development here at Naked Philly (we're owned by a real estate developer, after all), but every now and then we encounter a project that we struggle to get behind. Such is the case at 1857 N. Willington St., where a new triplex is currently under construction. Developers bought this property for $270K earlier this year and decided to demolish the building that was standing on the site. This happens all the time, of course, but this one feels like a more significant loss because of the unusual architectural features of the demolished building.
In the past
You can see, the building had a twin which is an active rental property. The cornice of that property isn't nearly as intact as was the cornice next door.
Cornice next door has seen better days
There are three other pairs of twins on this block, clearly designed by the same architect and possibly built at the same time.
We don't often find ourselves in the Fairhill section of Philadelphia, which likely explains why we've never encountered 2809 Germantown Ave., a wonderful building originally constructed for the Mutual Trust Company bank.
Ah, just look at that facade. The columns! The stone work! The cornice! We can only imagine that this building was even more impressive back in the day, though we cannot find any old pictures. Doing some basic digging, we also can't find much information on this bank, aside from the fact that there was another branch, since demolished, at 4th & Market. We're pleased and perhaps a little surprised to see that this building has been spared from the wrecking ball and repurposed into an active church. Considering the fact that the neighborhood is quite rough and the surrounding blocks are rife with blight and vacancy, it's a real triumph that this place has survived the passing decades.
If you ever find yourself in the area, we suggest taking a quick peek in person.
When a reader gave us a shout to let us know about some renovation activity happening at 2221 N. Broad St., just a couple blocks north of Temple University, we assumed that this was just one more example of developers looking to capitalize on the student housing boom in the neighborhood. And we were totally off base. First, let's consider the building itself. It appears it was used as office space most recently, though we'd imagine it was originally built for something much more interesting.
View in the past
In the immediate vicinity there are a number of truly gorgeous old Victorian homes, some of which are in disrepair while others are now broken up into student apartments. This building doesn't have the same detail as many neighbors, but it still possesses a certain industrial sensibility, and its height makes it stand out among the surrounding buildings on North Broad Street. So... perhaps you're wondering what's happening here, if student housing isn't on the menu?
For over 20 years, Project HOME has been at the forefront of getting stuff done when it comes to making inroads against Philadelphia's homelessness problem. Not only does the organization provide direct services like healthcare and adult education for the homeless population, but they also advocate for better public policy around the issue. They're also a fairly productive developer of supportive housing for people who need it most. We recently covered one of their most prominent projects to date, the Francis House of Peace, which was finished in 2015. Rather than take a breather from the arduous work of funding and managing development, the organization is marching forward with yet another project, this time much further away from the Center City area where many of their projects have happened lately.
Their next project will happen at 2415 North Broad St., along the stretch of North Broad Street between Temple University and the North Philadelphia train station. This is an area that, despite its location close to the Temple Medical and Temple University campuses and incredibly easy transit access, has plenty of abandoned/derelict property. Having heard that the development broke ground last month, we wanted to check up on it and see what was going on.