We were making our way through East Kensington the other day and as we approached the Front Street from Susquehanna, we spied some construction activity just on the other side of the El. The construction in question was taking place at 100 W. Susquehanna Ave., a mixed use building that’s had a variety of uses over the years. Per old zoning records, this building has been used as a drug store, a candy shop, a clothing store, a grocery store, and office space. A sign on the building indicates it housed a location for Northeast Community Mental Health Center, but they left a few years back and from what we can tell the building has been empty since then.
The place was listed for sale back in 2017 and interior photos from the listing show a space that was renovated within the last several years but still needed some real TLC. When developers bought the building for $260K, they surely didn’t have TLC in mind, but instead they gutted the building. They’re now working their way through a full renovation, and the building will eventually have a vacant retail space on the first floor and four apartments above. The project also entails a fourth floor addition to the existing building, and we appreciate the unusual shape of the upper floor. After all, people will be zipping by on the El and looking at this thing for many years to come, so this is way better than a bunch of right angles.
Ordinarily, we wouldn’t feel the need to call out a project of this relatively small size; and sure, the design of the 4th floor is cool and all, but the location of the project is really what’s of interest here. For the last several years, we’ve shown you various projects that indicate a push from East Kensington into Norris Square, and this follows that trend. In addition, it shows continued development pushing its way north on Front Street, and we have to think we’ll see more of it as the corridor continues to evolve. We wonder what kind of business will open at the corner of Front & Susquehanna when construction is done, and we confess we’re a little concerned that COVID will make it all the more challenging to find a tenant here. What do you think would make sense at this location?