Over the last few years, we’ve covered numerous projects on Front Street, watching as this long blighted corridor has slowly come back to life. Intuitively, Front Street’s comeback makes sense, with Fishtown booming on one side and South Kensington rapidly improving on the other. Sure, the sound and shadow of the El will forever hold Front Street back from being the best possible version of itself, but new apartments, restaurants, and other businesses have brought Front Street to a higher plane than we ever would have predicted.
It’s no secret though, that as you head farther north, the development starts to dry up. By the time the El curves around onto Kensington Avenue, we can’t think of any new buildings of businesses that have opened in recent memory, though we’ve noted many times before that Thang Long on the 2500 block of Kensington Ave. is one of our favorite pho places in town. It was right before a visit to said restaurant that we spotted some entirely unexpected construction where Boston Street hits Kensington Avenue. Historically, a rough looking furniture store occupied this corner.
Developers purchased 2411 Kensington Ave. last year, paying $450K for the 10K sqft property. They promptly demoed the building and proceeded with permitting for a new mixed-use building. This building, which is already under construction, will rise four stories and will include 28 apartments, retail on the first floor, and 10 parking spots. And in case you forgot during the last few sentences, it’s on Kensington Avenue.
Will this work? Will people rent market rate units in a building on Kensington Avenue? Will the owners of the property find a commercial tenant that’s willing to pay the necessary rental rate to make the building perform? We don’t know. What we do know is that this developer is taking a pretty brave step, making what could prove to be a groundbreaking move that will encourage other developers to take a fresh look at properties on Kensington Avenue, on the East Kensington border. Alternately, they could be taking a step that will confirm what we’ve assumed to this point, that Kensington Avenue is effectively a hard border for northern development in this part of town. We, along with many others, will be following this one with bated breath.