We’ve openly wondered of late whether we’re approaching a saturation point in terms of student housing in the area around Temple, in light of the staggering number of projects that have appeared here in the last decade. While we’re not there just yet as far as we can tell, we certainly have seen a slowdown in terms of new projects. But we don’t believe that’s due to oversupply of existing rentals, instead we think it’s got to do with a shrinking pool of available land and/or reasonably priced properties. As such, when developers are able to acquire vacant land or vacant properties, we’re still seeing new construction.
Take 1227-31 N. 15th St., for example, where three triplexes are currently under construction. The two northern parcels were previously vacant and the southern property had a vacant and blighted home that looked like it was being slowly eaten by vegetation.
The developer bought the southern parcel at sheriff’s sale back in 2015, picking up the other properties from the City. The same developer owns a few other vacant lots nearby, also procured from the City, on the southwest corner of 15th & Stiles. Once they’re finished with the buildings currently under construction, figure they’ll get to work across the street. We don’t see any active permitting yet for those properties, but it’s safe to assume that the developers will be able to offer greater density for those properties, as they’re a bit bigger than the neighboring parcels.
While we’re here, we might as well also show you 1236 N. 15th St., where another new building is under construction. For some reason, the owners of that property are working on a building with two apartments on the upper floors and a retail space on the first floor. While we acknowledge the presence of a hair salon at the corner, we honestly cannot understand why the developers are going for a mixed-use building at this location.
Thinking about it a little more, we’re going to posit that this block must have been remapped from commercial to multi-family at some point in the last couple years. The triplexes that we mentioned above needed to get a variance from the ZBA despite seeming like by-right projects in the zoning district. Meanwhile, the mixed-use building didn’t require a variance, but commercial use is specifically not permitted in the zoning district. Assuming that the block was indeed remapped, it will be even easier for the developers to develop the lots on the southwest corner, as an apartment building will be allowed without a trip to the ZBA.
Hooray for remapping, now let’s see it on Washington Avenue!