Project H.O.M.E. Mega-Project Probably on the Way in Francisville

Mr. Fox

Last week, when we wrote about the 30 unit residential project on the southern side of the 1400 block of Fairmount Ave., we alluded to a large-scale development from Project H.O.M.E. and People for People on the triangular lot across the street.

The big triangle

Currently, this half-acre lot contains a tent and a stage, but in the coming months it will turn into a pretty dramatic construction zone, provided the ZBA grants the requested variances.

Looking south
From 15th and Fairmount

Currently, the developers are proposing a four story LEED certified building with 55 apartment units, second floor office space for Project H.O.M.E., a ten-space parking lot on 15th St., and about 12K sqft of retail space on the first floor, with almost all of the commercial frontage on Ridge Ave. The residential units will include 47 efficiencies and 8 one bedroom units, with residents of between twenty-five and forty of the units receiving some rent subsidies. Rents are expected to be $700/mo for efficiency units and $900/mo for the one bedroom units. All of the units will target residents who require affordable housing.

The facade of the building will be mostly brick facing, and the bay windows will use composite fiber board. The commercial spaces will have large windows to make them more inviting for tenants and customers. There will be a green roof over at least some part of the building, and numerous street trees will be planted around the site. We have one rendering from architects Kitchen and Associates, and it's a view of the building looking north, up Ridge Ave.

Looks alright

Plans for this project have been going back and forth between the developers and the community for quite awhile. The community voted the project down back in August, but at the very crowded FNDC community meeting a couple of weeks ago, the revised project received community support by a roughly 60/40% vote.

A project of this size will obviously have a significant impact on Francisville and Spring Garden. It's not entirely clear just what that impact will be. Long-time neighbors and new neighbors alike have concerns about the tenants for this project, fearing that a large-scale affordable housing project could negatively effect the value of their homes and their quality of life. Neither is a definite outcome by any means, but either remain a possibility.

On the other hand...

If leased properly, the new commercial spaces on Ridge Ave. could provide residents with much needed commercial services. We imagine no one would complain about a small market or a pharmacy on this site. Interestingly, representatives from FNDC suggested the possibility that some of the space could be leased for a "Francisville Marketplace," an indoor/outdoor concept where small, local merchants or residents would be able to lease a small areas, creating a hyper local bazaar for the neighborhood. An interesting idea, certainly, that may or may not be viable. Additionally, the new commercial spaces would likely spur new development on Ridge Ave., one of the more depressed commercial corridors in the city.

This project looks like it will absolutely be a game changer for the eastern end of Fairmount Ave. Exactly what that change ends up being is, at this point, anybody's guess.