There’s an Apartment Building Under Construction on Kensington Avenue

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.

In the past

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.

Current view
View on Boston, looking toward Kensington Ave.

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.

  • James Goodwin

    Just a block away at the EL station, there is the Bromley building with half of it in new stucco and windows and the other half is devoid of such work and with so many windows open is ripe for arson. And the El station is only feet away. Someone should make effort to buy the building from the owner who has no care in the condition he leaves it in. Bromley building could easily become apartments.

  • bem

    Multifamily housing near a transit line?!?!? Who’d a thunk it?

  • Jeff Clinton

    Incidentally, directly across the street, the entire block is up for sale for 2.3M. If that goes, then you get rid of the NA zombie hangout and the BS mattress outlet, you’ll see real change. I think that the developer will get renters for market rate, but what is market there? Not CC obviously. But there’s plenty of people looking to rent for a little cheaper than northern liberties and south Kensington. North Philadelphia has a lot going for it, and a lot going against it, but people are attracted to older architecture and ambiance. The El is such an incredible asset. I know I was. Plus there’s just more room. South Philly is so tight, and the housing stock is newer, at least in the more affordable areas. North philly has a lot to offer for the price, and as more people move here and more legitimate businesses start up farther and farther up the El, it will mushroom like the lower end of the El has. Granted, you have to put up with some crap, but it’s worth it to fight for a decent, historical place to live. Move here, help clean up your block, talk to your neighbors. You might find they want things to get better too, and are happy to have you as a fellow homeowner. I know I have experienced that. Between Norris and York and even up to Huntington if you’re brave, there are MANY opportunities to acquire a building under the El, and start a business. Get in now before they’re gone. Otherwise in 10 years(or less)you’ll have to go north of Lehigh.

    As to the bromley building, he has zoning approval for 26 dwelling units from 2-5th floors. He just pulled a use permit for a dance studio I assume on the first floor that is vacant now. He bought the building in 2013, and am sure he got in a little over his head. I think he’s doing what he can when he can, but he probably needs some help. He’s also got active violations relating to fire code, so he’s got a lot on his plate now. But he’s paying hisntaxes and actually has a vacant building license, so he has 2 up on most other blightlords. Just sayin.

    • James Goodwin

      Hopefully he will find partners to make the Bromley Building a reality into 26 dwelling units. No man can do it alone if under capitualized.