Changes Coming For Small Green Space at 29th & Wharton

A reader reached out to us last week, having noticed some zoning notices at the southwest corner of 29th & Wharton. For those of you that have never visited this corner, the property at 2900 Wharton St. has served as a little neighborhood green space for at least a decade, along with the adjacent properties stretching to Hollywood Street. As little neighborhood green spaces with no funding go, this is one of the better ones we’ve encountered. There’s a lovely mural on the western side, dedicated to peace and racial harmony. Some nice-sized trees stand on the western side. There’s even a little pathway that runs from Wharton to 29th Street that features a mosaic image of a bird.

Zoning notices
A peek inside the park, image from Mural Arts
Zoning notices

When the zoning notices were brought to our attention, our first thought was that developers had purchased the entire property and would be pursuing a large project here. It turns out though, that’s not exactly what’s happening. The zoning notice only refers to the corner property, which developers purchased last summer for $75K. They’re looking to build a duplex here, even through the property is only zoned for single family use. Honestly, we have no idea whether they’ll get approval for the project, but we have to think that plenty of developers with an eye on Grays Ferry will be very interested to see what happens.

One party in particular will be monitoring this situation carefully, and that’s the owners of the three lots next door. Those lots changed hands less than a year ago, with the developers paying $90K per lot. They can build homes by right, but it might not work financially. Building duplexes and renting out the units, on the other hand, might be a successful path forward.

It makes sense that developers will likely build on these parcels in the near future. We’ve seen increased construction in Grays Ferry over the last few years, and while these parcels are a bit farther west than most of the development we’ve seen, they’re only a block and a half off of Grays Ferry Avenue and very close to the Grays Ferry Shopping Center. It will be bittersweet when these projects happen, as they will replace about two thirds of a really nice neighborhood green space. Some of the green space should stick around though, as the remaining properties are owned by a City agency and as far as we know, they haven’t been sold to developers thus far.