Apartment Building, Not Triplexes, Planned For Vacant Lot on Amber

It was a little over a year ago that we told you about plans for seven triplexes for a large vacant lot on Amber Street, near its intersection with Frankford Avenue. Even though a ZBA hearing was apparent on the calendar at the time, a commenter indicated that the project wouldn’t be moving forward and we could expect a new plan for the property in the near future. It perhaps took a little longer than we would have predicted, but we’ve finally learned about this new proposal.

View of the property from last year

New developers bought 2559 Amber St. about a year ago, paying $1.235M for the 11K+ sqft lot. Instead of seven separate buildings, they’re now targeting a single building with 31 apartments, ground-floor retail, and 60 bike parking spots. We have to think that the project will likely move forward, as the needed variances seem relatively minor. We have a feeling the height is triggering a refusal, but that might be a simple pilot house issue. As for the density and the lack of car parking, both of those elements are permitted by right.

Intuitively, this is a much more logical project than the previously proposed development for the site. This property sits, as we said, pretty much on Frankford Avenue and is surrounded by buildings with retail on the first floor. The closest example is Steaks N’ Shakes, the sandwich shop on the triangle across the street.

Cheesesteak place across the street

Assuming the project gets approval from the ZBA, it will join a host of projects in the immediate area. The Avenue 30 project has added 30 new homes (obv) to the intersection of Amber & Lehigh, and those homes have been selling briskly. As we told you last week, there’s a plan for 155 new units, as a mix of apartments and town homes, just on the other side of Lehigh. And perhaps sometime soon, we’ll see some progress on the Woods Square project, planned for the 2600 block of Amber, which will include 178 more units. Seen through the lens of these other projects, a 31-unit apartment building doesn’t seem like such a big deal. That, along with the minimal variance threshold, makes us optimistic that the project will get approved.

  • There is a bit of possible industry jargon I’m not getting from context: “Pilot House Issue?”

    • JimmiefromFeeshtown

      Pilot houses for roof decks count towards maximum height regulations. If a building’s pilot house makes it go over the maximum allowed height, the the developer has to go to the ZBA to get a variance for the development.