The cleverly named Avant Gardens landscaping company made its home at 102 W. Berks St. for some time, from 2004 until sometime in the last few years. In 2011, the owner of the business started thinking about greener pastures (see what we did there?) and put the property up for sale for $450K, eventually reducing the price to $300K, but finding no buyers. To provide you with some context, the property includes a parking lot on Berks Street and a commercial building on Front Street, covering a total of roughly 6,200 sqft. That’s a sizable parcel with favorable CMX-2.5 zoning, but as recently as 2013, the buyers weren’t lining up around the block. The old listing even specifically called out the “constant police presence” in the neighborhood, providing a sense of what things were like around here just a handful of years ago.
It doesn’t take much imagination to guess where we’re going with this. After all, we’ve covered numerous projects making their way up Front Street, as South and East Kensington continue to flourish. Berks Street is no slouch either, seeing a couple sizable town home developments in the last couple years. So you probably won’t be shocked to learn that this parcel, which couldn’t find any buyers in 2013 for $300K, sold for $1M back in January. Someone please let us borrow their time machine so we can go back and give ourselves a quick investment tip.
Since they bought the property, the developers have been working to get permits for the site. Their plan calls for the construction of a new five-story apartment building with retail on the first floor and 28 units on the upper floors. The project is proceeding as a matter of right, though this is necessitating some retail spaces that might not find tenants very quickly. Fortunately, there’s no parking component, which is quite reasonable given that the Berks El Station will probably be accessible from the windows of some of the units in the building.
As the price points at the old and unsuccessful listings would suggest, this project would have been inconceivable at this location even half a dozen years ago. Even though we’ve seen the explosion of developer interest in this area first hand, it’s still remarkable for us to reflect on just how much has changed and how quickly things have moved. If this is any indication of what might happen in the next several years, might some speculative investments in Harrowgate be money well spent?