In South Kensington, wide and often bare American Street is a leftover underused thoroughfare from the era when industrial work dominated this section of Philadelphia. With wide open lots and plenty of room, we've been wondering if developers might begin to see American Street as an opportunity for reinvestment, given consistent building nearby and in the neighboring Fishtown and Northern Liberties neighborhoods. And it seems that change is already afoot.
Last month, the ZBA approved a proposal to build a mixed-use building at 1500 N American St. with an art gallery on the first floor and an owner's apartment unit. There will also be a parking space included. Before the building can be built, the garage that now occupies the parcel must first be razed. We think the building was once an auto shop, so a gallery will represent a nice improvement.
We wondered about this area in the waning days of 2013. At the time we noted the vacant lot across the street, on the SWC next to the Crane Arts building. Actually, anywhere you look across the street here, there are vacancies. Meanwhile, since then, a new manufacturing facility was constructed a block to the north, the result of a collaboration between the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and Veyko.
Last acquired for $150K in May of last year by Joe Property LLC, 1500 N American St. is part of a wave of hundreds of new units planned for this locale. Between SoKo Lofts, planned for 2nd & Master, and Liberty Square, at American & Thompson, where work began this winter on a 191-unit project, there's an incredible amount of development in the pipeline. Consider that in tune with 20 new townhouses finished last year at 2nd & Jefferson, and heaps of one-off projects nearby, and you can clearly see that South Kensington is one of the hottest neighborhoods in town.