East Kensington has been on a rather dramatic upswing over the last several years, but the neighborhood was struggling for decades before this recent boom. We believe it was likely the NTI efforts by the Street administration that knocked down hundreds of blighted buildings in the neighborhood, leaving it with a ton of vacant land. An extreme example can still be found on the 1900 block of E. Cumebrland, which was pretty much an open field until relatively recently. The Suite Row project has filled in several vacant lots, but a ton of lots still remain empty.
On the 2000 block of E. Cumberland St., it’s a radically different story. This block has remained remarkably intact, with just a couple vacant lots to be found. The eastern side of the block contains a row of two-story homes that were surely built at the same time, as they generally look alike and each home has a setback with a garden in the front. Though home prices have exploded across the neighborhood, the prices here have remained on the lower end due to the lack of new construction. The highest sale price on this side of the block belongs to 2031 E. Cumberland St., a rehab which traded for $220K last year.
In the middle of the row is 2039 E. Cumberland St., a property that has been sitting empty for quite some time. Developers purchased the property about a year ago, paying $70K. Now they’re working on a three-story building which will match its neighbors, at least in terms of setback. The reader that brought this property to our attention indicated that the developers that own the property tend toward more contemporary design, which would definitely stand out from the neighbors.
We generally don’t care about new construction architecture blending in with existing homes, and frankly it won’t matter to us what materials the builders use relative to the neighboring homes. Window heights and cornice lines might not match up, so the building might end up looking awkward, and not just because it’ll rise three stories. The best news is that it will be set back, so at least in that regard it’ll blend in with the rest of the block. When the construction progresses over the next few months, we’ll get some answers on how things will turn out.