Kensington Courts Project Changing the Face of Lehigh Avenue

Back in 2017, we brought 2035 E. Lehigh Ave. to your attention, noting that the property was listed for sale for $5M. At that time, Paramount Auto & Truck Sales was utilizing the gigantic 177K sqft parcel, as they had for the previous decades. This use made all kinds of sense for a long time, as the site is located next to active freight rail lines and a few scrap yards operated nearby. But times have changed in this area on the fringe of East Kensington, and truck sales are suddenly much less of a fit here than just a few years ago. We imagined that a developer would purchase this property and build a mix of apartments and townhomes and also proposed the possibility of a huge apartment building with like 500 units.

In the past

RiverWards Group, with their wealth of experience in building projects in this part of town, ended up buying the property and decided to go with door number one. In early 2018, we told you about their Kensington Courts project, which was preparing for Civic Design Review and hadn’t yet finalized approvals. Needless to say, the project received those approvals, as it’s been under construction for quite some time. You can see, there’s been considerable progress at the site.

Project site plan
Now at Frankford & Lehigh
Looking down Lehigh
This part of the development looks finished
So many units

The eastern side of the development includes 60 single family homes and 11 duplexes, many of which are already sold. The first homes, which closed last year, sold at prices in the high $300K range. The latest homes are selling and listed in the low $400K range. Units in the duplexes are selling in the low $300K range. Also on this side of the development are three mixed-use buildings with ground floor commercial condos, all of which have sold for $260K.

Of course, there’s more to the project, as you can see from the construction photos. There are also five apartment buildings on the western side of the development which include 71 additional rental units plus 4 retail spaces. Originally, these apartments were going to be condos and the entire project was going to be for-sale product, but the developers got a lot of interest from potential renters as well and decided to pivot. The finishes didn’t change, however, so we imagine these will be some sweet rental units.

Aerial view, provided by the developer

This project is adding over 150 units and 7 commercial spaces to Lehigh Avenue and would have been inconceivable as recently as five years ago. And don’t forget, there’s another large project on the horizon for the property immediately next door which calls for just under 300 additional units. And it’s not just that developers are speculating- the fact that people are buying these units at a fast enough clip that prices are increasing during construction speaks to the incredible growth we’ve seen in Fishtown and East Kensington and just how much people want to live in the area. Granted, the location on the edge of the neighborhood and the close proximity to the railroad tracks results in very attractive price points compared to homes just on the other side of Lehigh, but that doesn’t change the fact that this project represents a sea change for the area. We’ll be excited to see what happens in the commercial spaces and how the retail mix develops with the growing number of near neighbors and we’ll be curious to see whether any proposals come down the pike for more properties on this side of Lehigh.

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