Sometimes, boundaries between different neighborhoods feel quite arbitrary. What makes South Street so special that it divides Grad Hospital from Rittenhouse or Hawthorne from Wash West? When wide streets like Washington Avenue or Broad Street separate neighborhoods, that at least makes a little sense. But perhaps the clearest dividing line for neighborhoods are elevated rail lines, like the way the El on Front Street delineates Fishtown from South Kensington. Another fine example is the 25th Street viaduct, which carries the occasional CSX train but presents a significant physical barrier between Point Breeze and Grays Ferry.
While elevated viaducts are a convenient way to cart people and stuff from here to there, they’re not generally considered to be selling points in the real estate world. Even though we live in a city full of row homes, people still appreciate light and air, and a viaduct gets in the way of both. Throw in the noise factor, and it’s self evident why the Front Street corridor was a development wasteland for decades and has only recently started waking up as the surrounding neighborhoods have surged. It’s similarly understandable that many light and heavy industrial businesses have set up shop on 25th Street, and not residences or retail shops. But that’s slowly changing as Point Breeze development continues to thrive. A couple years back, we saw new homes and duplexes rise on the 2400 blocks of Federal and Manton Streets, with the western units right next to the viaduct. Further south, two additional projects are taking a residential approach.
1501 S. 25th St. is a 15K sqft parcel which is mostly vacant but is also home to the Point Breeze Recycling Center. Developers bought the parcel recently and are now pursuing a project that would result in 18 units, with a mix of homes and duplexes. The project needs ZBA approval because of the property’s industrial zoning, but given the aforementioned project on Federal, we don’t see why it won’t get the variance it requires. There’s also another project that provides some precedent, right across the street.
A little over a year ago, we brought the vacant lot at 1500 S. 25th St. to your attention, noting that developers were planning a row of 25 homes on 25th Street. That project, dubbed Grays Pointe, started construction recently, and foundations are now in place for the first couple units. While the Federal Street project only has a couple of units with frontage on 25th Street and the project on the east side of the street would only have some of the units on 25th Street, every unit in Grays Pointe will have front door views of the viaduct. Combine that with the fact that the homes sit on the Grays Ferry side of the street and it makes the project feel all the more gutsy. Many of the homes on Manton Street sold at prices exceeding $500K- so we can’t help but wonder what kinds of sale prices we’ll see at 25th & Dickinson when these two projects start going on the market.