Development abounds all over South Kensington, with projects large and small dramatically changing the landscape in a neighborhood that’s still emerging from a post-industrial hangover. As developers continue to buy up vacant land in the neighborhood as ever escalating prices, we’re seeing the natural progression of builders pushing the boundaries to find more lots at lower prices. This is done with the understanding that projects farther north and west will result in lower sale prices and rental rates, but many projects still seem to pencil out, given the lower acquisition costs. Still, we find ourselves surprised to see just how far out the development has moved.
The 2200 block of N. 7th St. is pretty much a wasteland. The vast majority of the properties on the block are vacant land and all but two of the residential buildings on the block are sitting obviously vacant. The present condition of the block isn’t stopping two developers from hanging a shingle on this street, though. On the west side of the block, we see a duplex is currently under construction, and a pair of triplexes have risen on the east side. All three of these buildings are rising on properties that were sitting vacant previously.
As we said, the rest of the block is rough. It’s dominated by vacant lots, though there are a few PHA-owned shells on the block as well. Perhaps the most notable edifice on the block is an old industrial building, the rear of what looks like a non-operating auto garage. Interestingly, in the one-story building next to said structure, there’s an active business called HoodCo, which fabricates hood ventilation systems for restaurants. We’d never have guessed that this place was operating from this block if not for Google Maps, and we wonder whether the push of development might eventually lead the owners of the business to sell their property and move to less expensive digs some number of years from now.
Just how much more this block will change in the coming years is an open question. Developers own maybe half of the vacant lots on the block, while a combination of City agencies and PHA own the rest. Given the pace at which the City has sold vacant lots, it could be some time before those lots roll into private hands. As for the privately owned lots, it’s unclear whether they’re owned by parties that have actual plans to develop in this part of town or whether the owners are speculators, waiting to flip their lots to developers that do. Certainly, if the new buildings fill quickly with Temple students that are willing to walk four blocks just to get to the edge of campus, it might result in more developers considering this block. If the units take time to rent or don’t get great rental rates though, it could be awhile before we see more construction here. As is usually the case with this stuff, time will tell.