Could We See Student Housing at 22nd & Diamond?

Historically, the 2200 block of N. 22nd St. was entirely residential, with a few dozen twin homes with enormous backyards. As we do mean enormous. In greater Center City, lot sizes are generally in the 1,000 sqft range or smaller, even though minimum lot size standards require lots to be 1,440 sqft in size. The lots on 22nd Street were more like 4,500 sqft, which are more commonly found these days in West Philly neighborhoods or in neighborhoods in the northwest. And the homes were of normal size, leaving plenty of space for… horses for carriages? Over time, most if not all of those homes turned into apartment buildings and as disinvestment hit the area, many were demolished.

In the 1960s, the block picked up an industrial building when a sign manufacturing business opened its doors. By the 1980s, that business either closed or moved to a new location, and a medical office took over the building. Eventually, the upper floors became a community space, per old zoning permits, but as far as we can tell, the building at 2024 N. 22nd St. has been vacant for at least the last few years. Architecturally, the building won’t blow your doors off exactly, but it’s still a nice looking building, with vacant land on both sides.

For Sale sign on the building
Includes the lot to the north
Vacancy to the south

As you can see, there’s a ‘For Sale’ sign on the building. The property was listed earlier this year, along with the adjacent northern lot, for just under $1M. The properties are now under agreement, giving us an indication that they’ll be redeveloped sometime soon. Figure any redevelopment will take place as a matter of right, since the properties are zoned multi-family. As we mentioned earlier, the lots here are huge, and the developers buying the property are picking up a roughly 25K sqft parcel. Without bonuses, you could build a 47-unit apartment building. Throw in green roof and affordable housing bonuses, you get build 89 units here without dealing with the ZBA. That’s obviously very attractive.

Less attractive is the location. This property sits north of Sharswood, east of Strawberry Mansion, and west of Temple University. In all likelihood, anyone building something here would either build student housing or affordable units. We honestly aren’t sure which would be the right approach- it’s a bit of a hike from Temple and entering into an affordable housing development while paying market rate for the dirt seems like a challenging proposition.

Vacancy across the street

If a developer does indeed pursue student housing and it works out, there’s plenty of other properties in this general vicinity that could be purchased for a relatively reasonable price. Ideally, we’d like to see a combination of market rate and affordable development around here, but that would likely require an investment from PHA, but their energy is focused on Sharswood at the moment. If PHA would sell off some of their vacant land in the area to an established affordable housing developer, that would be another avenue. And it would help them save a couple bucks in their vacant lot maintenance budget as an added bonus.