bay windows

Seven homes with parking will be finished later this year

We don't find ourselves reporting on too many projects in Fairmount, mostly because there aren't all that many projects to cover. A mature neighborhood, Fairmount has its share of rehabs and the occasional one-off project, but there haven't been many projects sizable enough for us to cover over the years. In fact, this is our first Fairmount post of 2017 and we're more than a third of the way through the year. So let's get on with it, shall we?

We first brought the northeast corner of Taney & Brown to your attention back in 2012, pointing out a seemingly vacant building on the corner, some rough looking garages around the back, and a blighted and vacant building next door on Taney Street. We told you that the same party owned all of these buildings and that they owed back taxes, and we were hopeful that they would eventually sell to developers.

A few years ago

In 2015, the owners demolished all the buildings on their property and at some point they posted a small sign advertising that the property was available for sale.

Home replaces a long vacant lot

We're not usually in the business of bringing a one-off project to your attention, but for the new home at 2251 Catharine St., we decided to make an exception. And it's not because this new home was constructed on a lot that was sitting vacant for decades.

In the past

In fact, we're bringing it to your attention because it's a remarkably handsome new home that's been built in a neighborhood famous for awful residential architecture. Even if you've never heard the term "Graduate Hospital Special," you're surely familiar with the homes that were commonly built in the neighborhood over the last decade or so, with stucco-bay windows as their most prominent feature. It's clear that the developers were looking to take this particular project in a very different direction. Perhaps a good moniker for this new home is a "Graduate Hospital Exception."

The home

Look at this place. You've gotta love the stone base, the brick work, the mansard, the lintels, the cornice, the little bay window, and the mansard. We especially appreciate that the developers bothered to continue the brick all the way to the rear of the property, given the prominence of the back yard to people coming down 23rd Street. Nice touch.

But those bays!

Last year, a fire ravaged Jack B. Fabrics at 748 S. 4th St. on Fabric Row. When we last visited the property in April, a new building was being framed out, replacing the demolished structure. When we passed by the other day, the exterior looked nearly complete.

Before the fire

Current view

Once it's finished, the new building will have four apartments and a commercial space downstairs. In many ways, especially with the bays moving down Fitzwater Street, it seeks to imitate the building it replaces. But we have to wonder, was the architect dreaming of the shore when they designed the color scheme/material combo for those bays?

What do you think? Do you like the new building?

With no help from Kate Pierson

October was our last visit to the 1700 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, when two new buildings were finished up and a few more were on the way. At the time, we remarked on the inclusion of "commercial space," as required by the zoning code, but speculated that based on the design the developers never intended for businesses to open but instead would eventually convert those spaces to apartments. We still think that seems likely.

But we're not here today to think about the future of these buildings. No, we're here to make fun of some shiny bay windows.


On the plus side, at least they went with Temple colors, sort of.

Failed attempt at something interesting

Bay windows are wonderful, in theory. They give homes a little extra square-footage, and they inject facades with extra personality. And they come in all shapes and sizes. In the past, we've taken a careful look at the bay window situations in Graduate Hospital and then again in Northern Liberties/Fishtown. The other day, while in Fishtown, we came upon four homes that were built in the last few years that we've somehow never seen before. The bay windows for these homes, located on the 2300 block of E. Dauphin St., are really, er, something.

Not our style

What do you think? Are you likewise wondering what they were thinking? Or are we just overreacting?

Though we think people give it a little too much credit, the classic Philly row home has proven to be a timeless architectural choice in our fair town. Throw up some bricks, some stone lintels, and a cornice, and you probably won't win any design awards but nobody will complain either. It's with bay windows, sometimes innocuous and often beautiful in hundred-year-old homes, that modern architects seem to have a little more trouble. We've studied this phenomenon in both Graduate Hospital and Northern Liberties, heaping praise where it's due and dishing out criticism perhaps a little more frequently.

Just when we thought we'd seen it all, we came upon 2315 Coral St. in East Kensington. What a wonderful feeling to be reminded that there's always something new and different out there!


This property is currently listed on the market for just under $315K. The home has about 1,800 sqft of living space, spread over 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances etc are also mentioned in the listing for this home, which replaces a long vacant lot.

Every now and then, despite our best efforts, we don't get the facts right. And usually in such cases, we find the need to come clean, eventually. Which is what we're doing right now. Back in March, we told you about three new quadplexes that were about to go up on the 1800 block of N. 17th St., across the street from a series of new student housing units that have been built over the last couple of years.

In the past

Gosh, this is soooo embarrassing. Turns out, it isn't three quadplexes going up here. It's four quadplexes! All are being built by the same developer, ZMA One LLC, and the apartments are now for rent, despite the fact that the buildings are still not finished.

Current view

Our big regret at this time is that we still don't know the finish or the color for the bay windows for these new buildings. As you can see looking at the rest of the block, there's a combination of shiny metallic and a rainbow theme that makes the new construction here look a little different than some other boring new student housing you might find around the neighborhood.

Though there are fewer and fewer spots to be found for new construction in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, developers are slowly tracking down the remaining lots and building with aplomb. And with a paucity of vacant lots in this neighborhood, we're seeing an uptick of late in rehabs of existing three story buildings. Today, we have updates on two projects we've told you about in the past, and some new info about a project we just noticed nearby.

First, we look at the corner of 19th & Kimball, where two new homes have progressed considerably since foundations were poured back in November. The homes, designed by Harman Deutsch, are a nice departure from the stucco bays next door, and we also appreciate the lack of garages, creating more eyes on the street. The developer here, you may recall, is also working on the former Saint Albans check cashing place just a few blocks away.

About a year ago, we checked in on the 1800 block of N 17th St., noting a series of new duplexes featuring shiny bay windows. A few months later, we checked back in on the same block, and told you about some more new construction on the block, this time with some colorful bays.

Shiny bays
Rainbow bays

Today, we've learned about three new quadplexes coming to this block, but across the street. ZMA One LLC pulled permits for three new buildings at 1816-20 N 17th St. back in January, and it looks like things are getting underway.

A reader checked in the other day, and gave us the heads up that construction activity was stirring at 1014-16 S. 19th St., two long-vacant lots near Washington Avenue. Since no zoning notices had been posted, the reader was assuming that the construction was by right, but was concerned about aesthetics, considering the surroundings.

The lots

Taking a peek at the handy L&I Map, we were able to determine that two new homes are indeed on their way to this address, designed by Harman Deutsch. Fortunately, it seems that these homes will not be garage front homes, ensuring additional eyes on this street.

This project is just one more in a string of completed, ongoing, and upcoming residential developments on the southern end of this neighborhood. Much of the housing stock was seriously deteriorated 'round these parts as recently as a decade ago, and the developers have reinvented blocks at a time, many making  some fairly regrettable architectural decisions in the process.