Triangular Development Opportunity Near Meredith School

Most of downtown Philadelphia is organized on a grid, thank goodness, which makes it really easy for tourists and locals alike to get around town. An extension of this idea, the grid is helpful for developers too, as it generally results in rectangle-shaped lots, which helps produce those desirable right angles in new construction. But we don’t have to tell you that the grid gets interrupted from time to time by diagonal streets like Passyunk Avenue, Point Breeze Avenue, and Ridge Avenue. Those streets rumble their way through the grid with no regard for the natural order of things, but they helpfully create natural commercial corridors. They also result in some oddly shaped lots at various points where they intersect with the grid.

One such unusual lot is 715 E. Passyunk Ave., a triangular parcel created by Passyunk Avenue smacking into 5th Street. The property measures almost 1,100 sqft, and includes a little commercial building at its southern end and a small parking lot as you move to the north. We believe it was used as a gas station once upon a time and more recently, it was a water ice spot. But for at least the last decade, the commercial building has been vacant and the parking area has been used for, uh, parking. While we’ve wondered about this property on and off for a long time, we bring it to your attention today because we recently learned that it’s listed for sale for $400K.

The property

Who wouldn’t want to buy such a property? It’s got some nice size to it, and it’s in a fabulous location, pretty much across the street from the Meredith School. The neighborhood is largely residential to the south, but it’s all mixed-use to the north, so we’d think a mixed-use building would make sense here. But a triangular home would also be a worthwhile pursuit for the property, as we’ve seen some homes go up on unusual lots in this neighborhood in the past.

Handsome Rite Aid across the street
Looking north from the property

Ultimately, whoever puts in an offer on this property will probably be wise to include a zoning contingency. It’s zoned CMX-2, which allows for small-scale mixed-use development by right, but given the challenging dimensions of the lot, we suspect any project here will require some dimensional variances from the ZBA. That being the case, whoever buys the property will have to work closely with the neighbors and the community group to come up with a plan that everyone will support. The only by-right move might be to maintain the existing building and operate a small restaurant out of it, a la Heffe Tacos in Fishtown. Hm, interesting thought. Call us selfish, but we’ve figured out what we’re hoping for with this property.

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