We’ve found ourselves in the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood a handful of times over the years, most prominently when the Dupont Crescent section of the Schuylkill River Trail opened back in 2011. As the name suggests, this small neighborhood is off the beaten path, and it covers only a handful of blocks west of 34th Street and south of Grays Ferry Avenue. Despite its lilliputian size and the fact that most people have never heard of it, we’ve pushed its potential for many years because of easy access to West Philadelphia. The opening of the Pennovation Works just to the north of the neighborhood has made the area more attractive, as has the fact that it’s been included in the Penn Home Ownership Program since 2014.
Even though Forgotten Bottom has a lot going for it, it’s still seen relatively little new construction over the last several years. Repeatedly, we’ve reported on planned projects, but relatively few of those possible developments have actually come to fruition. A notable exception is the project going up at the corner of 36th & Wharton, after a 5 year delay. Another exception is the home under construction at 3616 Sears St., right around the corner. And if the ZBA says okay, yet another project should soon get underway in this neighborhood.
Developers purchased 3613-19 Sears St. a little less than a year ago, paying a little over $100K for the four properties. The lots are only 14′ wide and 47′ deep, which is a little too small to build homes by right. As a result, the developers are going to the ZBA this week, ostensibly looking to get a variance for open area and rear yard depth so they can build homes that people will want to buy (or rent). As we’ve said many times before, you’re ideally looking to build a home at least 39′ or 40′ deep, as building a shallower home tends to make for inferior living space, especially on the 2nd floor.
One other thing to note, if the project gets approved and the homes get built, it seems someone will need to find a new home for the boat that’s been parked on the block for who knows how long.
Assuming this project moves forward successfully, it could be a sign that developers are finally taking notice of Forgotten Bottom. The good news is that there’s still plenty of opportunity in the area, with another large vacant lot sitting around waiting to get redeveloped on this very block. It wouldn’t surprise us in the least to come back here in a few months and find construction replacing the zoning notices and new zoning notices on the vacant lot pictured above.