Earlier this week, we told you about plans for six homes at 1208-12 E. Susquehanna Ave., a large parcel near Girard Avenue that's three times as deep as it is wide. The site currently underused, with only two houses and a bunch of one-story garages on the 7,700+ sqft property.
When the developers presented the project to the community last month, the neighbors opposed the project because of concerns about height, density, and pilot house size. At the time, we said that we couldn't really offer an opinion on the project without seeing the design. Thankfully, the good people at Harman Deutsch sent us a site plan and a rendering, and now we know exactly what to expect.
You can see, the project calls for six homes positioned on the northern side of the property with a drive-aisle to the south. Most new homes in this neighborhood have a standard layout, with a width of 14-18', and a depth of 36-42'. These homes would be wider but shallower, with most of the homes measuring about 24' wide by about 30' deep. This creates a floor plate that's a little larger than the typical home and also allows for two-car parking on the first floor.
This past week we checked out some interesting but slightly confusing development activity at 917 Arch St. thanks to a reader tip. This building definitely has some history, having been home to Stewart, Ralph & Company about a hundred years ago, and also housing the Asam Brothers wallpaper warehouse for a stretch. By the 1970s the structure looked pretty rough, but it's taken a turn for the better in recent years.
The building in 1975
Back in 2014
Visit the building today, and you'll see it's getting a three story addition. We've actually seen this happen to a few other properties in Chinatown, usually with a similar scale.
A recent commenter led us back to an interesting project which combined a surprisingly large number of units (twenty-four) with architecture that was meant to mesh with the neighboring structure. The building of interest is at 4213 Chester Ave.- we first mentioned the property last year when the dilapidated twin house that was there had been demolished to make way for new development. Since the parcel itself was so large, it allowed for a larger than expected replacement structure. At that time, Harman Deutsch, the architect for this project, reached out to us and provided an applause-worthy rendering.
We first noted the Mode7 project at 134 N. 22nd St. way back in the spring of 2011 when Masada Custom Builders had just started construction on the first two homes. That summer, framing began on the next pair of homes, and by the time 2013 rolled around three more homes were under construction on Croskey Street. These homes are all over 5,000 sqft in size, with all the high-end bells and whistles, and strong architecture work from Atrium. We were really impressed in 2012 when one of the homes sold for $1.7M and given the direction of the market in the last few years it should come as no shock that the last home in the development sold for $2.04M. Not too shabby, and it's clearly a price point that the project up the street is looking to piggyback off of.
Any casual observer has surely noticed the trajectory of the Frankford Avenue commercial corridor in recent years. New buildings have appeared, almost overnight. Countless new businesses have opened, increasing amenities in the neighborhood. And there's more coming. But today we check in on two big projects on the 1500 block of Frankford Avenue which we first told you about last year. Even though they're still under construction, you can get a decent idea of what they'll look like when they're done. And if your imagination stinks, we have drawings that we can share.
South Kensington has come a very long way in the last few years, but it still possesses entirely too many enormous vacant lots. This doesn't really come as much of a surprise- it's actually to be expected when witnessing the redevelopment of a neighborhood once dominated by industry. But today we have good news on this fine Monday! One of those aforementioned big lots should soon be on the outs.
Currently, the east side of 5th Street south of Thompson is an overgrown mess. It's only half a block from Girard Avenue though, making it a excellent candidate for redevelopment. Last week, developers for 1213 N. 5th St. came before the community in a South Kensington Community Partners meeting to present information on their big plans for the parcel. Without even seeing the plans yet, you can imagine it would be an improvement.
Looking north on 5th Street
But it just so happens, we've seen the plans, thanks to the good people at Harman Deutsch. And they do indeed make for a fine improvement over what we see today. The project will entail 14 duplexes on 5th Street, 7 duplexes on Orkney Street, a mixed-use building at the corner of 5th & Thompson, and a dog park. The site plan also shows 45 parking spaces for the 45 units that will be created.
Across the street, the Fishtown Neighbors Association supported plans for 17 units and ten parking spots at 1133 E Columbia Ave., a vacant lot, next door to the Candy Factory building. Designed by Harman Deutsch, it was approved by the Zoning Board a couple of weeks ago. The parcel stretches all the way to Earl Street. This project originally came before FNA last fall, at the same time as the aforementioned 14-home project, but didn't get support. Shedding a few of the units and making a couple of design changes got the community behind the project.
If you were to look at a map of Northern Liberties, and on this map include new development projects since 2013 alone, you would see projects at various levels on so many blocks. Such consistent development points to an ongoing trend in the neighborhood where you'd be hard-pressed to walk more than a block or two before coming upon a project that's under five years old.
That's the sort of framework we consider when we think about smaller projects, like plans at 410 Green St. for a one-off single-family home. On the surface, it's one simple project. But, there's more to it than that. Right now, the lot is corner parcel and serves as a small parking lot. It's where Green Street intersects with N. Lawrence street, where, yes, there's been new building the past few years. Silk City is around the corner too. Recently, the Northern Liberties Neighbors Neighbors Association supported plans for a home with a garage, designed by Harman Deutsch.
Too often, as West Philly has seen more than its share of new student housing rise over the last several years, developers have skimped on the design side of things, opting for function over form. It's not that the new apartment buildings in the neighborhood are unattractive per se, but looking at many of them in the context of the gorgeous Victorian homes nearby makes them look terribly plain in comparison. And while we generally don't care about uniformity on a block in terms of height or appearance, we're perhaps a little more sensitive on the west side of the Schuylkill, given the elevated architecture on so many blocks.
On the 4200 block of Chester Ave., we were excited to share the news a couple of months ago that a new apartment building would fit in very well with the adjacent twin, and have a compatible look with many other homes on the block. Today, we have another example of home that will purposefully fit in with its neighbor, this time at 33rd & Baring.