What’s in Store for an Old Industrial Building at 6th & Berks?

A couple readers have reached out to us over the last few weeks, wondering about the old industrial building on the northwest corner of 6th & Berks. It’s a little surprising we’ve never thought about this building in the past, as we’ve previously covered projects in this general area, including a barn-like home/studio space on the southeast corner of the intersection. That building is a picture of contemporary industrial chic, while its catty corner neighbor is a prime example of the industrial style that ruled Kensington for over a century.

View at the corner
Looking west
Looking north. Development in the distance
Looking south from the corner. Newish home/studio at the corner and construction beyond

You’ll notice from the photos above, there are some orange barriers in the street on 6th Street, suggesting that some work was recently taking place here. There are no permits on the property, but we do see that a series of failed inspections have taken place over the last several months, suggesting that there could be some structural problems. We see an old Loopnet listing for the property from 2015, which suggests that the utilities, roof, and floors all need total renovation. When you have a roof that’s in need of repair for a number of years, that will eventually result in structural problems, which squares with the violations on the property. Without an engineering report though, we couldn’t tell you the extent to which the building is compromised.

Figure this won’t be the case for long though, as the building changed hands about half a year ago. We couldn’t tell you what the new owners are planning for the property for which they paid $900K, though anything other than another industrial use would require a variance from the ZBA. The building has some nice looking bones, so a residential conversion would be a nice move- but like we said, the building could be in terrible shape and renovation might not be practical, economically. If demolition is the ultimate decision, the developers could go a number of ways with this 14K sqft parcel.

Of course, some kind of residential development makes considerable sense here. South Kensington has seen all kinds of residential construction in the last half dozen years, and we’ve watched as projects have pushed westward through the neighborhood during that time. Temple is sort of close in the other direction- the owner of the aforementioned studio/home combo is a professor over there- but it might be a bit too much of a shlep for the student set. As you can see though, there’s active construction in both directions on 6th Street right now, which suggests that there’s room for additional development at 6th & Berks. What shape that development takes will remain an open question until plans surface for the property, which could takes days, weeks or months.