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Slow start but should start chugging along now

Ignoring the occasional giant building built by the university itself and a handful of other exceptions like the buildings at the old Wanamaker School site, most of the new construction we've seen near Temple has been on a smaller scale. Need a new triplex or quadplex? Walk a block or two from Temple's campus and you'll find 'em by the bushel. But today we look at one of the larger new projects we've seen in the area of late, which will contain dozens of units when it's finished.

View of framing last week

We first told you about the project at 1325 N. 15th St., which is being built by Blackstone Development, back in April when it was literally a hole in the ground. The building, which has been dubbed 'The Greenery,' will contain 64 studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units, along with an underground parking garage. Unlike many student housing projects we've seen in this area, the project isn't cramming as many beds into each unit, offering larger units for students to destroy enjoy. There will also be a first floor courtyard area inside the building which will have planters, small trees, and a seating area. Harman Deutsch did the design work.

Better than what's been there

Last week, a couple of folks who work at the still shiny JBJ Soul Homes tipped us off about some new construction activity at the northwest corner of 15th & Swain. It took us a little while to get to this Francisville corner, which was a vacant lot for years and often home to some pickup trucks. When we finally visited yesterday, we discovered a new hole in the ground.

In the past
Current view

The lots were purchased by developers earlier this year for a combo price of $220K. They've hired Harman Deutsch to design a mixed-use building for the site, making this a by-right build. Plans are for a four-story building with a commercial space on the first floor and an apartment on each floor above. No idea what the commercial tenant will be, though we don't know what kind of retail will be the right play here.

Great to see the building preserved

It's been over a year since we checked in on 1221 Mount Vernon St., a former power station turned auto body place with dreams of a residential conversion. We first brought this building to your attention a year prior when it was sitting on the market for a steep $1.8M. Ultimately, the property sold for just shy of $1.4M, and now it's well on its way to being converted into forty apartment units.

Next to another newish duplex

Two winters back, we brought the construction of a duplex at the corner of 11th & Wallace to your attention. At the time, we were pleased to see that the long vacant lot was being filled, and lamented the fact that the surrounding lots remained undeveloped. There was also a vacant former bar on the block crying out for demolition or redevelopment.

Recently built on the corner

Passing by over the weekend, we discovered that the duplex is complete, but it looks kinda bad. The stucco bays (which don't look any good the minute they're installed anywhere) look like they're already cracking. Somehow, somebody bought this building for $470K last September. As you can see in the photo above, there's construction going on next door.

Demolition coming soon

For years, we've been talking about Washington Avenue West, hoping for better things than forklifts and building supply warehouses, and dreaming of a more accessible bridge between Graduate Hospital and Point Breeze. And there have certainly been some small improvements, like the opening of NextFab Studios, a crossfit gym, and Kermit's Bake Shoppe. But to us, the real game changer will be residential on Washington Avenue. We're sure it's coming, but where and when have remained open questions. Finally, it seems like we have the answers- and they are 18th & Washington and very soon.

Slowly though

Real estate development doesn't happen overnight. Even the simplest project can take years to come to fruition. And as a project becomes more complicated, the timeline tends to stretch out. Still, the speed at which the medium-sized project at 11th & Mount Vernon has progressed has come as a bit of a surprise to us.

In the past

In October of 2011, we first told you that the a developer had a deal in place to purchase the Ruffin Nichols Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church and school. At the time, we were hopeful for an adaptive reuse project here. But it wasn't to be. Demolition of the church took over a year, pausing intermittently for months, until it finally wrapped up in November. By February, it seemed as though the project was finally beginning to hit its stride, with a few foundations in the ground. At that point, we finally learned that the lovely church would be replaced by four single-family homes and seven duplexes.

Guess the homes have been shortened

For over a hundred twenty years, Saint John the Evangelist Episcopal Church proudly stood on the northwest corner of 3rd & Reed. And a year ago, we visited the site as a crew demolished the gorgeous old building, which was coming down in favor of a new twelve-home development dubbed Constitution Court. Though we're generally very much in favor of new construction, we lamented that it was coming, in this case, at the expense of such a great building.

In the past

Shortly after demolition was completed, four foundations were poured and construction was underway on the first two homes. By last fall, two homes had been framed out right at the corner. And then, nothing. Work was completely stalled on the site. The reason, according to Plan Philly, is that the new homes were 22 inches taller than was permitted by the zoning variance the developers received. As a result, L&I shut down the site until the developers could resolve the problem.

Tough to find

You don't necessarily think of Old City as a place where lots of new construction happens. With a name like Old City, new stuff is pretty much the opposite of what you'd expect. But lately, we've seen a noticeable uptick in new construction, in locations both prominent and hidden. Remember, just last week we told you about plans for 250 units in a big building next to the Ben Franklin Bridge. And today, we have news of a much smaller, harder to find project that's now under construction.

In the past
Construction ongoing

Have you ever tried to drive onto I-95 via Race Street, but somehow ended up still on Front Street? The corner of Front & Quarry is the first intersection you hit when this happens. And it's where a formerly beat-up vacant lot is currently under construction. When we passed by last week, it looked like an elevator tower was being built. Soon, a new five story building will rise here, designed by Harman Deutsch.

Better than vacant lots

A couple of vacant lots near Point Breeze Ave. could soon be on the outs. 1314 and 1316 S. 21st St. have been vacant for many years, though the surrounding neighborhood has experienced tremendous development.

Current view

The lots in question are located at the corner, and if they're redeveloped there would still be a vacant lot remaining between the new buildings and the seafood place you see pictured above. That parcel is privately owned, so it's possible it could be redeveloped sometime soon, if it turns over. As for the lots on the corner, there's a proposal on the table for a pair of triplexes. These buildings are designed by Harman Deutsch, and would include a unit in the basement and first floor, a second floor unit, and a third floor unit with roof deck access.

One year later

In a matter of terrifying coincidence, it's been exactly one year since we first told you about plans for development at 1110-14 South St., which has for years been a surface parking lot next to an unattractive mural. For the bulk of the last year, nothing much has happened on this site, with cars continuing to park there and the mural continuing to be ugly. But over the past few weeks, anyone that tried to park here would have a big problem on their hands. Because they'd find themselves at the bottom of a pit.

View from the west
The new hole. The same terrible mural.

In case you don't remember, this will soon be the site of two new mixed-use buildings. 1110-12 will have six residential units, while 1114 will have five apartments. Both will have commercial spaces on the first floor, though none of the commercial space has been spoken for as of yet. The design, which comes from Harman Deutsch, is relatively innocuous, and will blend in pretty well with its surroundings despite the fact that it will be taller than the neighboring buildings.

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