For many decades, until around 2008, a pair of industrial buildings covered the property at 2304-18 E. Sergeant St., despite the fact that the immediate surrounding area is primarily residential. Given the industrial history of the neighborhood, this wasn’t an unusual situation, but we nevertheless have to think that most neighbors would have preferred the sight of homes over the sight of these worn down structures. Even back in the mid-aughts, we imagine that at least a few developers were drooling over the potential of a 132’x80′ lot.
By the time 2009 rolled around, the old industrial buildings were gone and seven new homes had appeared. The developers took advantage of the deep lots (and a ZBA that was much friendlier to driveways than the current board) and set the homes back from the street to create parking spots out front. Perhaps because this was a fringier part of Fishtown, they also only opted to build two story homes, a choice that nobody would make today at this location. Another value engineering effort and a sign of the times of when these were built, the developers also went with stucco facades. The homes sold quickly, at prices in the low to mid-$300K range.
We were in the neighborhood the other day, and one of the homes caught our attention because it’s now blue. Perhaps because the stucco hasn’t held up and possibly just because of aesthetics, one of the owners in this development opted to convert their facade with some blue board and batten vinyl siding. And they’re not alone in redoing their facade, as a few other homeowners have also made changes to the fronts of their homes, with several opting for siding and a few installing new windows as well. Our favorite change is the home at 2316 E. Sergeant St., where the triangular top of the pilot house has been mirrored to give the home a pointy crown, of sorts.
These homes obviously don’t compare to brownstones on Pine Street, and many would argue that they prefer a classic brick Philly row home as well. We are probably in that camp, but we also appreciate these homes for the architectural diversity that they bring to the area, and for the fact that they at least look different front all the other new construction we’ve seen over the last decade plus. Of course, no matter what the homes look like, we’re not fans of the setback from the street from an urbanist perspective, but as we said, the ZBA doesn’t really allow this type of design anymore.
Perhaps the best thing about the homes is that they sit just around the corner from the terrific pizza joint, Circles + Squares. This feels especially apropos for homes whose pilot houses produce the silhouette of a slice of pizza. And… now we want pizza. Great.