Soko Lofts Project Rising From the Dead in South Kensington

There’s a huge vacant lot at 1300 N. 2nd St. that’s been in development purgatory for over a decade. Back before the 2008 recession, developers were planning a significant for-sale project for this 2.5 acre property, eyeing 160 condo units and 16 artist studios. After everyone finished licking their wounds from the economic downturn, the same developers came back five years later with a project called Soko Lofts, a Piazza-like 311-unit development centered around a courtyard. We were excited about the prospect, and were even more tickled a couple months later to tell you about a similar project, Liberty Square, planned right across the street. Here’s a look at Liberty Square, where one of the buildings is finished and others are still under construction.

Liberty Square, across the street

And here’s a look at 1300 N. 2nd St., the Soko Lofts project.

Dirt moving around!

Pretty easy to see the contrast between the sites, right? Liberty Square was delayed a couple years after we initially told you about it, finally moving forward in the fall of 2016. Soko Lofts… never happened. The property has been sitting untouched for years, and new developers stepped forward at the end of 2015, paying $7.2M for the parcel. Since someone paid that price for the property, we’ve assumed something would eventually happen here, we just figured it would have happened already. That being the case, we’ve been legit worried that the property would continue to sit empty through the next downturn.

But if you look closely at the image above though, you’ll notice something new and different- dirt moving around. Finally, it seems something is happening with this long vacant property. A reader tipped us off to this situation, and was also kind enough to link us to new building permits, pulled last month. The activity on the site combined with the buildings permits pretty clearly indicatate that the Soko Lofts project is finally getting going. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, as the Soko Lofts moniker has gone to the real estate development graveyard. The new developers are calling this project Dwell Philadelphia.

The same reader that shared the news about the activity at the site also pointed us to the website of Barton Partners, the architecture firm that also designed the National building, currently under construction in Old City. On the architect’s website, we see several renderings of the Dwell Philadelphia project, which give us a pretty good idea of what we can expect now that construction is finally, probably, almost definitely happening really soon.

Aerial rendering
Project rendering
Another rendering
Yet another look at the project

That same website also gives some updated information for the project stats, telling us to expect 320 units in buildings that range in size from four to seven stories. The project will differ from the Piazza in terms of commercial space, as it will only have retail on select corners, not all over the first floors of the buildings. Moreover, the first floor of the building on American Street will be almost all car parking, adding to a total of 140 parking spots on the site. We don’t see how this project needs so much car parking considering its proximity to the El, but we don’t imagine it would have gotten community support without it.

The Barton Partners website also indicates that the project will get built over two phases, but we’re not sure which side will get built first. However the project proceeds, we’re just thrilled to see something is finally happening here, and look forward to the additional density and energy in South Kensington.

  • jimco

    will appreciate the local density but that first floor n american st parking is just awful, especially on a street with so much potential that’s just starting to be realized…

  • Ivan Mawesome

    Hideous, as usual, and “Dwell Philadelphia” is not a good name at all, but thank the Kensington gods that “Soko” is dead.

  • Frank

    They have that, it’s called New Jersey. Just go there.

    • ZH Bizzle

      I’ll pass. I could make a Jersey joke, but I’ll just leave it alone- AKA, never go there.

    • JimmiefromFeeshtown

      What could be better than spending $800k on a giant mcmansion and not having to worry about turning left anymore. They even have Jersey Mikes over there!