mixed-use development

Would take over first floor of new building across from Sidecar

Last winter, we discovered a Loopnet listing advertising retail space for rent in building on the northeast corner of 22nd & Christian, and we were encouraged to see a rendering that indicated plans for a new four-story building here. For as long as we can remember, there's been a one story laundromat at this address, and while the business definitely filled a need for the neighborhood, a one-story building is never the highest and best use for a property.

Current view
Project rendering

Last week, developer Max Glass presented this project to SOSNA in an information-only meeting, sharing details about the project we didn't know previously. When we covered the property several months ago, we assumed that the project called for retail on the ground floor and apartments above, but we were mistaken. Instead, the plans call for commercial space on the 2nd and 3rd floors, with a single apartment on the top floor. Possible uses on the 2nd and 3rd floor include office, yoga studio, and various other services, excepting massage. As for the retail space, the intended tenant is a vegan pizza place from New York called Double Zero. This place specializes in wood fired plant based pizza, while also offering a number of small plates. No question, it would be a fine addition to the growing vegan scene in this town.

Former site of Triangle Park

The saga of Triangle Park has seemingly come to an end after quite a long time. For those of you that haven't been following the situation at the triangular lot at 601 Christian St. over the years, here's a brief rundown:

Historically, this 2,600 sqft property was home to a gas station, though the business shut down quite some time ago. Roughly eight years ago, with the site clear of the remains of the gas station, the owner of the property permitted some neighbors to clean the lot and transform it into a green space called Triangle Park. And lo, it was wonderful, and the City had designs on purchasing the property and preserving it as a park in perpetuity. Then things went off the rails.

In the spring of 2012, the owner put up a fence around the perimeter of the property, unhappy that the City was taking so long to buy the land. Half a year later, we learned that the City was not willing to purchase the property without major ground testing and remediation of any contamination from the years of gas station use. Within a year, the owner tore up the entire park.

Looking forward to this upgrade

We're always game for a good zombie project, and it seems that's exactly what's in store for a crappy looking garage that we last checked in on quite some time ago. You may recall, but we'll understand if you don't, we told you about plans to renovate the former auto garage at 1128 S. 13th St. back in late 2013. Those plans called for a 3rd story addition, with an office and 3 parking spots on the 1st floor, and 4 apartments upstairs. For some reason, despite the support of the Passyunk Square Civic Association, the ZBA denied the application. It's a shame, it would be have been a nice addition to the block.

Elevations drawing from 2013

Since then, it's been nothing doing for this property, at least as far as we were concerned. So you can imagine our surprise when we passed by the other day and saw a construction fence around the front of the building. This was a strong sign indeed, that the project was coming back from the dead.

And the project across the street got approved

Last summer, developers came to the community with plans to redevelop the large parcel at 1405 Frankford Ave., the longtime home of Penn Treaty Metals. By right, the developers could have built a mixed-use project with 30 units and no parking, but they instead proposed 32 units and 16 parking spaces. Still, the community only came out in support of the project by a narrow margin. We mentioned last month that we'd heard rumblings that this project would soon get underway, and wouldn't you know it, those rumblings were accurate.

View of the property

Old building has been demoed

In case you don't remember the plans for this property, here's a rendering to jog your memory.

Not that there's anything wrong with that

We were making our way down N. 2nd Street in Northern Liberties the other day, and noticed a big new building on the 900 block. We've actually written about this property, 966 N. 2nd St., in the past, back in the fall of 2015. At that time, we told you that a long vacant building had just been torn down and that developers had approval to build a new building in its place. We were all kinds of pleased that this building had gotten demoed, it had been blighting the block for as long as we could recall and it also resembled Swamp Thing.

In the past

Pretty much the same thing

Today, it's a wildly different world at this location. Developer Shimi Zaken, who has done multiple projects in Northern Liberties, is behind this one as well. The building will have 13 residential units, a veterinary clinic on the first floor, and 8 underground parking spaces. It had to go to NLNA and zoning, but not for the reason you might expect.

Would be an improvement, certainly

Back in March, we visited N. 2nd St. just below Cecil B. Moore Avenue, providing updates on a couple of projects on the west side of the block. At 1638 and 1640 N. 2nd St., developers were initially building a pair of mixed-use buildings, but decided to pivot during the construction process. Realizing that a small ground floor retail space didn't make much sense that this location, they went to the ZBA for permission to convert the buildings into triplexes and got approval soon after we wrote our story. Just to the north, we noted that construction was just getting started on a separate project consisting of three single family homes.

Checking in now, the triplexes look like they're nearly finished and there's been considerable progress on the new homes.

Quite a bit more density proposed

Front Street's upswing is continuing, as a reader recently tipped us off about plans to redevelop yet another vacant lot on this long dormant corridor. There's a zoning notice posted at 1308-10 N. Front St., a 4,000 sqft parcel that goes all the way back to Hope Street and has been sitting vacant for at least a decade. By right, the owners of this property could build a 7-unit building that goes up to a height of 38'. Instead, they're proposing a 54' building with 14 units, some retail on the first floor, and parking for 5 cars. The project went to South Kensington Community Partners this week, maybe someone who attended the meeting can fill us in on how it was received?

Zoning notice

You'll notice, one of our favorite new buildings in town is located immediately next door. This unique building reminds us of a ski slope and contains 6 apartments over a retail space. But it's on a smaller parcel, so greater density next door would seem to make sense. We can only hope that the proposed project can hold a candle to its neighbor from an architectural standpoint. If history is any lesson though, we shouldn't be too optimistic.

Will the ZBA approve it?

Far be it from us to tell developers what to do- heaven knows we don't always know the right approach for a given property. But we're starting to feel pretty confident with the feedback that developers shouldn't try to get a variance for a multi-family project in Fishtown without providing parking. It seems that every time we see such a project come down the pike, it runs into a brick wall of neighborhood opposition. Let's look at 1502-08 Frankford Ave., the latest example of this phenomenon.

The property

As you might guess from the address, this property doesn't include the vacant lot at the corner, but does include the three story building with the zoning notice and the two garages next door. Developers bought the property last year and have proposed tearing down the existing buildings and constructing a mixed-use building in their place. That five-story building would include 28 apartments, commercial on the ground floor, and no parking. At the FNA zoning meeting last month, the community voted 40-11 against the project. We weren't at the meeting, but we'd think that the opposition had to do with the fact that the developers were looking to build 8 more apartments than they could include by right and the resulting parking challenges that would create. The project is slated to go to the ZBA, but we don't think it will fare very well, given the overwhelming opposition from the community. And what a shame, the building would've been pretty nice.

We have our doubts

When we got an email the other day about an upcoming Fairmount Civic Association meeting for a project on the 2600 block of Girard, our hearts soared with hope that the huge lot between Taney and 27th was finally getting developed after many years of vacancy. You may recall, we told you back in 2014 about a plan for that property that was to entail a four-story mixed-use building on Girard, ten homes on 27th Street, and a parking lot. Such a project would be a game changer for Brewerytown, eliminating a huge gap in the Girard Avenue corridor and adding a bunch of new neighbors to the community. Alas, the property still looks more or less the same as it has for a long time.

View at 27th & Girard

But we faked ourselves out! The meeting isn't about this property at all. Instead, it's about a totally different property at the corner of 26th & Girard. Bummer.

Project finally starting to come together

Four years ago, we told you about plans for Liberty Square, a massive mixed-use project from Blackstone Development planned for a large parcel bordered by Thompson Street, N. American Street, Stiles Street, and Germantown Avenue. Then... we waited. And we waited some more. At the end of 2014, it looked like construction was getting started... but it wasn't. So we waited a little longer. Finally, last fall, after we have kind of given up hope that the ambitious project was going to happen, construction got started.

We were in the area the other day and figured we'd share some images of the progress.