Staggering Changes For the 1900 Block of N. Orianna

At this point, it’s well worn territory that South Kensington has changed dramatically over the last several years. In its heyday, this neighborhood was part of a larger section of town known as the Workshop of the World, home to numerous factories which produced goods that were used locally and, uh, all over the world. But industry changed through the 20th century and American urban factories fell out of favor as production moved to less expensive locales. As the factories closed and the jobs disappeared, South Kensington suffered tremendous disinvestment, and by the time Y2K rolled around, the neighborhood was chock full of blighted buildings and vacant lots. Some blocks stayed relatively intact. Others, like the 1900 block of N. Orianna, lost just about everything.

The view on this block as recently as a year and a half ago

Yeah, that’s exactly three homes on this block. Out of 54 properties. Remarkably, this was the situation on this block as recently as 2018. But since we’re telling you about the block in this space, you can probably guess that things are changing on this block. And if you did indeed guess that, you’d be absolutely correct.

Current view
Closer look at new homes
View from the north

By our count, there are 16 new buildings on this block, either recently constructed or under construction. Amazingly, all of that work has happened in the last two years. V2 Properties, which specializes in building new homes as a matter of right, sometimes in fringy parts of town, is responsible for six of the new homes. A mix of other developers are building the other properties on the block, even mixing in a couple of duplexes on some larger lots. Only one home has sold on the block to date, trading at $375K. Another home is currently listed at the same price, and a condo unit is listed for $280K.

We’ve theorized that development pressure coming from Fishtown and Northern Liberties have been the primary driver for development in South Kensington. Naturally then, construction has pushed from south to north and from east to west, as vacant or underused land gets more and more scarce in parts of South Kensington nearest to those neighborhoods. Based on the location of Orianna Street just west of 3rd, it makes sense that development is only now getting to this block. It also follows that we should expect additional construction on this block and on blocks to the north and west of here in the years to come.

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