The historic Queen Village neighborhood is home to all sorts of architectural treasures, but it’s also got its share of clunkers. Firmly in the latter category are a pair of one-story homes on the southeast corner of 3rd & Montrose. From what we can tell, this property once contained four homes, but those homes were torn down in the first half of the 20th century and the property then sat vacant for quite awhile. In the early 1960s, a new building appeared here, housing a laundromat and a dry cleaner. In the mid-1980s, the buildings were converted into the homes that we see today.
The ownership history of these homes is interesting, if a little confusing. The properties were owned for years by the United Cerebral Palsy Association and their lack of interior or exterior stairs made them incredibly suitable for use as housing for people with cerebral palsy. A little over a year ago, it appears the homes were purchased by the Barber National Institute, an organization that provides services to individuals with intellectual disabilities. Earlier this month, however, the property was listed for sale for just shy of $950K and it’s already under agreement. Before the property was even listed, an application went to the ZBA to demolish the buildings and construct three new homes, each with two-car parking. We can’t quite wrap our heads around what happened here- why did the Barber National Institute buy the buildings and sell them in a year? What were they doing making an application to the ZBA? Why was the property only listed for sale this month? It’s a bit of a puzzle, for sure.
If we may pivot away from wondering about the behind the scenes stuff, we’ll be pleased to see this blah building get torn down, assuming the ZBA approves the project. Given the purchase price for the property, we have to think that the new homes will be on the higher end, with sale prices into seven figures. On its face, this may seem a little surprising, given that the Southwark public housing project is right across the street.
We’d instead argue that 1) there’s plenty of market rate property in this immediate area, including most of the homes on the 300 block of Montrose Street and the Salter Mews project just across the street, and 2) it’s a really good thing to have people at different income levels living very close to each other. In our increasingly polarized world, it’s east to find ourselves in an echo chamber- and smushing PHA housing, market rate Queen Village homes, and a few high end homes into the same immediate area will help people better understand each other. Or maybe the people buying the expensive homes will only drive in and out of their garages and never speak to anyone, who knows.
Of course, none of this is a sure thing until the ZBA has their say, which is at this point at least a couple months away. With the City and the ZBA shut down indefinitely, it may be more than a couple months, now that we think about it.