Passyunk Avenue runs on an angle through several neighborhoods east of Broad, offering walkable retail and an impressive mix of different types of businesses. Over the last twenty years or so, this corridor has changed dramatically, shifting away from a focus on the surrounding neighborhood and becoming a retail and dining destination for people from all over the city. During those years, we’ve also seen changes in the neighborhoods around Passyunk, as home values have gone up and up and development activity has increased at an impressive clip.
Point Breeze Avenue, on the other side of Broad Street, has always given us Passyunk Avenue vibes. Like its sister street to the east, it ignores the city grid and runs at similar angle. Historically, Point Breeze Avenue was a thriving neighborhood commercial corridor, such that people living in the area didn’t even need to visit Center City to accomplish their household shopping. But that hasn’t been the case for decades, as Point Breeze Avenue experienced significant disinvestment starting in the 1960s, like the rest of the surrounding neighborhood. The corridor has seen some modest levels of investment over the last decade, with some new buildings and businesses, but in general it’s still in a fairly depressed state, with a number of vacant and/or blighted buildings on multiple blocks. By the time you get below Tasker Street, much of the retail disappears and the street takes a turn toward mostly residential uses. Here’s a view of the 1900 block, just to give you an idea of what we mean:
Last year, we covered some new construction on the 1600 block of Point Breeze Avenue, noting that this marked some significant southern creep for development on the corridor. Today, we have another project to bring to your attention, this time at 1951 Point Breeze Ave., almost at McKean Street. There’s a vacant lot at this location which measures nearly 15K sqft. The current owners have put together plans to build a four-story building here with 29 apartments, 2 commercial spaces, and 13 parking spots. This project is completely by-right, by the way.
It’s unclear whether this project will get built, as the property and the development plans are currently listed for sale for $1.75M. Maybe the current owners are just looking around, hoping someone is willing to pay a premium for the property, but they will develop it themselves if nobody comes forward. It’s also possible that the owners will never develop the property and will wait until someone comes forward, even if it takes years. We also see the potential for a totally different project to take shape here, with double the density, which would seem like an optimal move to wring some more value out of this large parcel in a rather far flung location.
Still, that developers would even consider a property at this location speaks volumes about the change in mindset regarding Point Breeze Avenue in recent years and gives us hope that we’ll see other long vacant lots get redeveloped in the coming years. A little remapping would probably make things move faster, of course. But as we’ve been banging that drum for many years to no avail, so we’re not gonna hold our breath that remapping is coming to Point Breeze Avenue any time soon.