It’s been a few months since we were here, so of course it’s time to revisit Ridge Avenue in Francisville with info about some new development. We found ourselves in the area the other day and a relatively new pile of bricks suddenly caught our gaze. Until somewhat recently, there was a junky looking two-story warehouse at 1521 Ridge Ave., with a stucco coating on the facade that eliminated any charm the building might have once possessed. The lousy look of the building is moot by now though, as it’s been demolished.
We’re pretty sure that it was a single developer that bought this property, along with the four vacant lots to the east, just a couple months ago. At the moment, we see permits for the consolidation of the former warehouse property with the property next door into one lot, and the combination of the other three lots into another lot. We don’t know exactly what’s planned for the two large parcels at this time, but it’s a safe bet that we’ll see buildings that are very much in line with the other projects we’ve seen on the block in recent years.
To the west on the north side of the street are two such buildings. As they sit on smaller lots, they both have 2 residential units on the upper floors, above ground-floor retail. Across the street, we see some larger buildings that are probably a better indication of what we’ll see in place of the warehouse and next door.
At 1526-30 Ridge Ave., we see a triple-wide building with 8 condo units and commercial on the first floor. Immediately next door, a building with the same specs is now under construction after a small delay. Closer to 15th Street, we see considerable progress on another building with 8 units that will specifically include a restaurant space on the first floor. The last time we checked in on that particular building, it was just a foundation.
All of these projects have at least one thing in common, that they sit on land that’s zoned CMX-2.5. While some of the projects went to the ZBA, the fact that the properties had this zoning designation made for much easier sledding in terms of height and density than if they had been zoned CMX-2, for example. While the retail explosion still hasn’t occurred on Ridge Avenue, the zoning has created a situation where the corridor is now overflowing with new commercial spaces and sits poised for a massive influx of businesses in the very near future. As we’ve said before, the customer base is pretty much in place, we just need one or two brave business people to test the waters to show that retail is now viable on Ridge. Maybe this will be the year it happens.