New Construction

All the old homes look alike

As Brewerytown hit incredibly hard times over the last few decades, many blocks in the neighborhood fell into serious disrepair, with several experiencing wholesale demolition of vacant properties in the interest of public safety and blight removal. The 1200 block of N. Etting St. is an excellent example of this phenomenon, though it's finally seeing some new development after years of vacancy. Some blocks, though, have remained amazingly intact, like the 2900 block of W. Flora Street.

Looking west on Flora St.

This block is not only impressive for maintaining almost all of its original housing stock, but also because the homes on both sides of the street were seemingly designed by the same individual, as they all feature similar architectural details. One exception is the three story double-wide Humble Tabernacle of Love church in the middle of the block, which possesses some unique architectural features (sweet cornice!) and rises a story above all the other structures on the block. Incidentally, there's a new home under construction next door. That property, 2923 W. Flora St. was previously a two story home that matched its neighbors but had clearly been sitting vacant for many years.

Several buildings have been demolished

We've discovered a new hole in the ground at 512 E. Girard Ave., just a couple blocks away from a less than perfect addition that we covered yesterday. This property previously looked kind of rough, with a vacant lot at the corner of Eyre Street, a one-story garage next door belonging to the car dealership across the street, and a bike store attached to another one-story garage. Especially when you consider all the development that's happened on and around East Girard over the last several years, it was really only a matter of time before the same thing happened here.

It's really just a shame

Well, that sucked.

Project rendering

1245 Point Breeze Ave. went to the ZBA earlier this week, with a plan for a four-story mixed-use building with a grocery store on the first floor and fifteen apartments above. At the community meeting for this project, the standing ovations gave the impression that a letter of support would be forthcoming but somehow, the vote and the letter reflected opposition instead. This resulted in opposition from the councilman's office, and at the hearing the councilman's representative specifically indicated opposition to the residential density. The Planning Commission voiced their opposition, and the ZBA then voted against granting the variance.

Several projects from different developers

A reader brought our attention to a new construction fence at 1130 S. 24th St. the other day, and we immediately starting thinking about all the other development that's happening on 24th Street over the last few years. We first wrote about this area about four and a half years ago, a year or two after 3 homes had been built on the 1200 block of S. 24th Street. At that time, developers had just poured foundations for three new homes next door and we were hopeful that the project would inspire additional development nearby. Those homes all sold for under $250K in 2012, btw.

Row of six homes built a few years ago in two phases

We wouldn't suggest that the aforementioned project led to additional development so much as the white hot real estate market in all of Point Breeze, but whatever the cause this area has seen a staggering amount of new construction of late. The most significant example is the huge project at 24th & Manton, where 19 new homes are either under construction or recently completed. Those homes have been selling for as much as $500K. Times have changed indeed.

This block of 2nd Street has seen some major changes

You may recall that the other day, we told you about a tiny house planned for the 1200 block of 2nd Street which some neighbors are fighting because it'll result in the elimination of an old tree. Less than a block away from here, and slightly farther away from Federal Donuts, we noticed a building was recently demolished. 1314 S. 2nd St. was a one-story auto garage for many years, but now only some steel beams remain where it once stood.

In the past
View of the property

Developers bought the property a little over a year ago, and took it to the ZBA for a four-home development, with two homes on 2nd Street and two more on Philip Street. It looks like the ZBA denied the variance in November of last year, but then the project came back for some reason and the variance was granted this March. Does anyone have any insight into what happened here?

Seems like an upgrade to us

Another day, another vacant Francisville lot getting redeveloped.

These days, it seems that you can't go a single block in this neighborhood without running into a contractors framing a building, pouring a foundation, or digging a new hole. Ridge Avenue is particular is seeing an explosion in development, with a bunch of mixed-use projects now under construction and more coming soon. We don't know exactly what businesses will fill all those retail spaces, but we do know that they'll need as many neighbors as possible to ensure success. Or at least viability.

So let's consider 1431 Brown St. as a prime example of the kind of project that will help Ridge Avenue get to where it needs to go.

The property

1431-33 Brown St. has been sitting vacant for many years, owned by religious institutions since the 1950s. At some point in the last few months, developers bought the property and now they're proposing a ten-unit building here. This is a lot of density for what's essentially a double-wide lot, but why the heck not? Ridge Avenue is just steps away and as we said, the corridor needs as much density as it can get. And not for nothing, but North Broad Street is almost as close, with a Broad Street Line station less than two blocks away.

This would mean rejecting a plan for a home next door

Trying to get through this sweaty Monday, we hoofed it over to Federal Donuts in Pennsport to grab some sugary and doughy goodness. Sated, we walked out the door and spied an odd banner on the fence on the northwest corner of 2nd & Manton.

Northwest corner of 2nd & Manton
The banner

From a quick read of the banner, it seems that a developer is planning a home for a small lot here and that someone else is none too pleased about the idea. Thankfully, the folks opposing the project have put together a website that details the situation. We did some additional digging to help better understand the situation.

And we can give you an idea of what it'll look like too

Take a look at this section of the 900 block of S. 5th St. back in 2007.

The view back in 2007

Passing by this area today, we see a very different scene, with previously vacant and blighted buildings either renovated or replaced. And one new building, at 934 S. 5th St., is under construction.

Current view

We actually told you about this project several months ago, when it was only a foundation. To refresh your memory, developers purchased this property and some others immediately to the east, they've combined the lots into one property, and they're building a nine-unit apartment building. It's tough to tell from walking by, but little Hall Street intersects with 5th Street here, though calling it a street instead of a path is a bit of a stretch.

Taking cues from the 1900 block

We visited the 1900 block of Fernon Street a few months ago and discovered a block under heavy construction. Perhaps this redevelopment effort was spurred by the renovation of the adjacent Ralph Brooks Park, or maybe it happened because development is moving ever further south in Point Breeze and this block happened to have a bunch of empty lots. No matter the explanation, there's at least eight homes at various stages of development on the block. And as you might guess, there's been some solid progress since our last visit.

Looking east on the 1900 block of Fernon

The 2000 block of Fernon Street is a very different animal, compared to the 1900 block. While the former possessed over twenty vacant lots as recently as a year ago, the latter block has remained mostly intact over time. Looking west on this block, you can see a few vacant lots, but it's mostly unrenovated two-story homes.

Papa Johns coming back?

Papa John's offered better ingredients and better pizza at 2100 Market St. for quite awhile, but closed their doors a couple years back. The building has sat vacant ever since, though an LLC related to Brandywine Realty Trust purchased the property as part of a larger assemblage last year. A reader gave us the heads up the other day that construction is now taking place here, with a fence surrounding the property and the retail space apparently gutted. Permits indicate a take-out restaurant is coming, and we wonder whether Papa John's will be making a return.