Ask ten people and you’ll probably get ten opinions on what to do with the Delaware River waterfront. Historically, the Delaware was the center of commerce for Philadelphia, bringing goods in, shipping goods out, and providing countless jobs in this endeavor. As times have changed and shipping has become less of a thing in this town, the waterfront has undergone a massive transformation, and currently accommodates a mishmash of uses, including shopping centers, public space, residences of different shapes and sizes, a casino, and a mix of commercial and industrial buildings. The Central Delaware Zoning Overlay, implemented several years ago, attempts to direct development along the river so that it’s at a human scale and successfully integrates with the rest of the city, but proposals and new projects that have materialized since its passing have been all over the map. On the other hand, it’s a generally positive situation that we’re actually seeing development proposed along the Delaware, after years of stagnation.
Back in 2017, we told you that developers were planning a 19-home development at 1145 N. Delaware Ave., on a parcel that saw a 168-unit apartment building project fall through during the 2008 recession. We should note, we had previously told you that the parcel was available for purchase at auction, and the party that bought the lot at said auction ended up flipping it for a seven figure profit. So listen up when we tell you about development opportunities!
The 19-home project is currently under construction, and the development is being called the Views at Penn Treaty. Prices for these homes start at $1.9M, with sizes ranging from 4,000 sqft to 5,500 sqft and each home including two-car parking. On the plus side, these homes will have amazing river views, enjoy incredibly close proximity to Penn Treaty Park, and sit only three blocks from East Girard Avenue. On the negative side of the ledger, the garages will surely flood from time to time after major storms, Sugarhouse is around the corner, and access to Girard will require walking under I-95. Nevertheless, we suspect people will end up paying top dollar for these homes. And if they don’t like them for whatever reason, they’ll have an alternative nearby, since another 60 homes are planned for 1121 N. Delaware Ave., the parcel immediately next door.
This parcel sits right between the Views at Penn Treaty homes and Sugarhouse. It’s currently a large, one story warehouse, but the developers that own the property intend to tear down the existing building and construct sixty new homes here. Each home will rise four stories, with a drive-aisle providing access from Delaware Avenue. Needless to say, the homes won’t have basements. Here are some renderings from Cecil Baker, to give you a sense of what’s coming.
As you can probably guess, the images above come from a Civic Design Review packet, which is necessary due to the size of the development. Since the project needs CDR approval, it will also get presented to the community, where it may win rave reviews or meet significant opposition. The community response is only of moderate interest to the developers though, since the project is happening by right and CDR is completely non-binding. So if the developers are so inclined, they can build exactly what you see in the renderings, or something that slightly or strongly resembles the renderings.
Is this the best use of this prominent parcel on the Delaware waterfront? We honestly have no idea. To us, intuitively, it feels like an underuse, and that a taller building with more density would make much more sense from a city planning perspective, if not from a financial point of view. But again, different people have different views on what would be the perfect Delaware waterfront, so you might think this is the appropriate use for this parcel. Or maybe you’d prefer that Sugarhouse took over the parcel to build a hotel or a larger parking garage? Hey, different strokes for different folks.