A reader reached out to us recently, noting two ongoing projects on the 6600 block of Ridge Avenue which will soon add some nice density (and not enough parking, eek) to this area. Before we get into the upcoming developments though, first let’s take a look back at what was here previously:
6604-12 Ridge Ave. had been home to a small strip mall for decades. Most recently, a laundromat occupied a portion of the building while a carpet store operated out of the rest. About half of the property was used as a surface parking lot, as we commonly see with these types of commercial properties. Across the street at 6618-24 Ridge Ave. was a used car business which used even more of its property for surface parking, ‘natch.
Ridge Avenue is the local commercial corridor, and these buildings and businesses have made sense at this location for years. One could argue, looking in either direction on Ridge, that they still make sense. We’re of a different opinion, as you might guess, because Ridge Avenue is changing in a big way as Roxborough continues to see an influx of development. More and more people appreciate this neighborhood that’s still Philadelphia but offers a very different vibe when compared to the neighborhoods downtown, and as a result we’re seeing a building boom in this part of town.
At 6604 Ridge Ave., a new building is under construction that will rise five stories and include 54 apartments plus some parking on the ground floor. Stamm Development is the group behind the project, with M Architects doing the design work, and they’re calling the project the Azalea. The rendering looks like it’ll be a nice building that utilizes quality building materials, befit of the prominent corner location and a slight upgrade over a one-story strip mall.
6618 Ridge Ave. will be a similar project, but with 44 units on a slightly smaller parcel. Like its neighbor it will also include some ground-floor parking, but will unfortunately also lack retail space on the first floor. We couldn’t dig up a rendering of this one, but we’ll cross our fingers and hope for something similar to the project across the street.
Between these two buildings, Roxborough will pick up just shy of 100 new units. And while the location is close enough to the main commercial drag just down the hill for residents of these buildings to get there easily enough, we find ourselves wishing for commercial space in these new buildings as well. But that was never in the cards for one simple reason – both properties are zoned for multi-family residential use and commercial uses are forbidden without a variance. This is true even though businesses operated here for decades. The moral of this story is that the zoning maps could use some help in Roxborough, just like in just about every other neighborhood in Philadelphia. Maybe we’ll get it right by 2035.