About a year and a half after we first told you to expect a sizable new project at 1700 Germantown Ave., plans are coalescing into one of the most unique developments to date in South Kensington. You’ll recall that this property was used for many years by a family business called Pallets Plus, which has been supplying pallets in the area for three generations. Not only did this business successfully capture a large share of the local pallet market, but they also allowed graffiti artists to use the walls of their property to create some of the most unique street art in town. Even though the Pallets Plus family no longer owns the property, the graffiti has remained, and new street art has appeared on the walls of the year old dog park on the northern end of the property.
As we told you previously, Flow Development now owns this property. When we covered the property in the past, we didn’t have a perfect grasp on what the developers were planned for the site. Now, thanks to the magic of Civic Design Review, we have a pretty good idea of what’s to come. The developers presented their plans earlier this month at CDR, and now we know to expect an L-shaped building at the corner of 5th & Cecil B Moore, with underground parking, ground-floor retail, 2nd floor office space and “research and development,” and 138 apartments on floors 3-8. On Germantown, the developers are planning another building with retail on the first floor and six stories of office space. Check out the renderings, which also show new space for street art on the walls of the courtyard between the new buildings.
The unique aspect of this project is obviously the plans for new office space and industrial research. The overwhelming majority of projects in South Kensington have been exclusively residential, with certain larger projects typically calling for limited retail. This project will reserve almost 40K sqft for non-residential and non-retail uses, making it a serious outlier. The again, Billy Penn Studios is just down the street and 2424 Studios is a short distance away in Fishtown, so there’s certainly evidence that office space has a market in this part of the city.
Be that as it may, don’t look for any changes to the Avenue V plan for the property across the street. As we told you last summer, that property (which Pallets Plus should be vacating soon for less valuable pastures) will soon see a project with 146 apartments and 4 retail spaces from Riverwards Group. Permitting is moving along for this one, and we imagine groundbreaking sometime in the coming months. We wonder, will some of the people living at Avenue V find work in an office across the street? Whether or not that happens, we can say with greater certainty that the 300 plus new residents in this pocket will get use out of the new retail spaces coming with the two projects. We’ll certainly be interested to see what businesses will open here, in an area rather distant from any commercial corridor.