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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
About thirty years ago, the Philadelphia Housing Authority tore down all the homes on the western side of 19th Street just north of Fairmount Avenue, and built a collection of less-than-attractive one-story buildings with front yards. The affordable housing units had deed restrictions which prevented their sale to individuals who didn't meet certain income thresholds, but those restrictions expired after a couple of decades. Now, with the explosion of development in Francisville, many folks who bought these homes back in the day have an opportunity for a tremendous windfall.
We covered an example of this a couple of years ago, when an older home was demolished and replaced with a new three-story duplex. This created some controversy in the neighborhood, with some neighbors concerned about gentrification and others upset that the new building disrupted the flow of the block. The building does indeed stick out, both in terms of height and depth, as you can see below.
A couple of months ago, we brought a new project on the northeast corner of 15th & Master to your attention. At that point, it was framed to three stories. Checking back the other day, it's been fully framed to four stories, and brickwork is getting started. When it's done, it will contain ten apartments and three parking spots.
Taller than last time
Looking to the south, down 15th Street, you can see additional projects in the works. But there's one that really catches the eye.