Development Opportunity on Frankford Avenue?

Back in the day (and by that we mean like ten years ago), things were radically different on the Frankford Avenue corridor than they are today. As the years have fallen off the calendar, Frankford Avenue has become one of the premier commercial corridors in Philadelphia, with an enviable mix of small businesses that make it a crucial aspect of life in the neighborhood and a destination for people who live elsewhere. A mere ten years ago, it would have been better described as an industrial corridor, home to numerous active industrial businesses, a number of empty buildings that once held industrial businesses, and a ton of vacant land. Many of those businesses have closed or moved, many of their buildings have been demoed or repurposed, and most of the vacant land has been redeveloped, but some vestiges of the past remain.

View of the property

1831 Frankford Ave. is one such property. This building has been home to an auto shop for as long as we can remember, and this made all the sense in the world until a handful of years ago. But given the new buildings that have risen nearby and the businesses that have appeared over the years on surrounding blocks, an auto shop simply isn’t the highest and best use for this property. That being said, we’re really into the mural on the section of the building that faces Berks Street.

The owners of this property (and we assume the operators of the auto garage) bought the place back in 2001, paying $75K (!), which was surely a fair price at that time. They obviously appreciate that the land that their business sits on it more valuable than the business being located there and are looking to sell the property. The current asking price is $1.25M for this 2,934 sqft property with CMX-2 zoning. By right, a developer could build a four-story building with retail on the first floor and five apartments upstairs. With a green roof bonus, they could bump that unit count up to six, which seems like it would be worthwhile.

NKCDC garden across the street
Row of new construction looking up Frankford

Given the location, right in the heart of the corridor, the redevelopment of this property is a no brainer. Perhaps a developer will demo the building and build new from the ground up, or maybe someone would look to build on top of the existing structure if it can hold the weight. But the how of the redevelopment of this property is purely academic, as it’s just a matter of when. Given that the property has been on the market for a few months, we imagine the price will need to come down a little before a buyer finally comes forward, but once it lands in the sweet spot, it’ll just be a matter of time before we see something new and different at this prime corner.

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