New Construction

But it still may look regrettable

The 1500 block of N. 16th St. enjoys the presence of numerous buildings that are, in our estimation, architectural gems. A few years ago, a new stucco apartment building rose on the block, looking like a tumor next to an amazing old structure. Earlier this year, we told you of plans for yet another addition to the block at 1516 N. 16th St., and hoped that the new building would reduce the impact of the aforementioned stucco tumor.

The new structure
Some good looking buildings on the block

In case you don't recall, this four-story building will eventually have nineteen apartments. As is the case with most new construction in the area, it will surely target Temple students, and make us jealous of their living conditions compared to those of our college days. We still don't know what this building will ultimately look like, but it sure is doing a fine job of blocking the view of the stuccoed building next door.

Big lot on Poplar Street on the outs

In Francisville, long vacant lots are filling in at a disarming pace, and it seems like the development fisherman has hooked another big one. A reader checked in today, alerting us to the outcome of last night's Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation zoning meeting, where neighbors overwhelmingly supported a new development at 1617-33 Poplar St. that would replace a giant vacant lot near Ridge Avenue.

Current view
View of the site from above

As you can see, this parcel is quite large and quite vacant. The overhead view is clearly from a couple of years ago and doesn't show other development that's happened nearby since. Surrounded by other projects, the new development here will feel quite at home, though it will be among the larger projects to come down the pike for this area. So you may wonder, what was it that neighbors learned about last night and supported to the tune of 69-4?

As more projects push along

The number of projects popping up in recent years on the blocks surrounding 40th & Baring has really been astounding. On Baring Street numerous apartment buildings have risen, mostly housing students, generally replacing vacant lots. Recently, a new run of construction and renovation has gotten underway in the area. A large building on the southwest corner is getting turned into a duplex. Just north of the corner on 40th Street, developers recently renovated a long-blighted row of buildings. Closer to Spring Garden Street a row of quadplexes are progressing. And on the east side of the block, a building with 22 units is very much under construction.

And there's a groundbreaking in their backyard

Another day, another handful of vacant lots by the wayside in Point Breeze. This time, we found two new homes at 2313 and 2315 Ellsworth St., both of which were formerly vacant lots. Remember, we last visited this block over the summer, covering a few other homes under construction closer to 24th Street. Developers To The Sky LLC bought the aforementioned pair last year, and they're now building single family homes here. They also bought the adjacent vacant lot, 2311 Ellsworth St., and will soon be building a third single family home there to join the two we see today. 

Two new homes have been framed

Directly behind this project there's another development that's finally moving forward. In September, we told you about plans for fourteen new homes on the 2300 block of Alter Street, and noted that an old warehouse was getting demolished. Checking back today, we see the warehouse is gone and a new hole has appeared on the block. At the bottom of the hole, we spotted footers for the first three homes in the development.

Block has turned around thanks to PHA auction

A little over three years ago, the Philadelphia Housing Authority held a press conference on the 3000 block of Cambridge Street, announcing plans to auction off 400 scattered site properties. Included in that list were five vacant and blighted properties on the block. The press conference set up shop in front of 3020 and 3022 Cambridge St., which were in terrible condition at the time.

Press conference in 2011

Those same homes are looking much better these days. Like many other homes on the block, they've been sold to private developers, renovated, and resold to residents. 

Current view of those homes

A couple of homes on this block could still use some love, but the changes have been incredible in just a few short years. And some more changes are surely on the way. The western end of this block is a dead-end, separated from Fairmount Park by railroad tracks. But the homes end before the end of the block. We spotted zoning notices a couple of weeks ago though, suggesting that the end of the block will soon fill in some.

Not expected but not a huge shock either

Marshall Street between Poplar and Girard was once a bustling commercial corridor, full of shops and pushcarts like the Italian Market. Philaplace gives a lovely telling of the history of this stretch, and explains that a combination of white flight and a redevelopment plan from the 1950s that never came to fruition ultimately sunk most of the Marshall Street businesses. The street never really recovered and it looks pretty bad today. Many of the buildings remaining on the block appear to have residential tenants, but the storefronts are mostly shuttered. And there's not shortage of vacant lots either.

Some older buildings on Marshall Street

But there's something funny happening on the 900 block of Marshall Street. New homes are getting built. Two have risen to date, at 922 and 936 N. Marshall St., one of which has already sold. 936 N. Marshall St. is currently on the market for $550K.

Project has dragged some and changed over time

A couple of years ago, we were very pleased to bring you the news that the former Pride of the Sea warehouse at 4th & Brown was being demolished, and that new homes would rise in its place. We're generally bummed when handsome old churches or row homes come down in favor of new development, but this building was adding nothing to the neighborhood. And even if someone wanted to reuse it, we wonder whether that fish smell ever comes out.

In the past

The demolition took place back in June of 2012, and we expected to see two new homes rise on 4th Street and three more on Brown Street. The project, which was called Foundry Court, was of particular interest because of a partnership with with Nexus EnergyHomes to build the first Net Zero homes in Philadelphia. Plans included the use of geothermal heating and cooling and extremely tight building envelopes. From what we can tell looking at a past and current listing for the 4th Street homes, the project moved forward with only those two properties. The 3,000 sqft home at 718 N. 4th St. is currently on the market for $779,900.

A the corner of Mascher and Thompson

In a vacuum, 1265 Mascher St. is an ideal candidate for redevelopment. It's been vacant for decades. It's a block away from Girard Avenue and two blocks from Frankford Avenue. Located in South Kensington, it's surrounded on all sides by small and medium sized projects and there's a couple of huge projects in the pipeline nearby. With a footprint of about 20'x44', you can build a nice house here which should sell quickly. So... what's the problem?

In the past

This property was, until recently, part of the Cohocksink Community Garden. The parcels pictured above have been used as a garden on and off over the years, and according to the current iteration was organized in 2010. A lot that's owned by the Kensington South CDC is bookended by two privately owned properties, a situation that meant that the garden was always living on borrowed time, especially given the rampant redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood. Recently, work got started on a new single family home on the corner, a parcel that previously featured plantings, a tall pine tree, and a picnic table. Now it's literally a hole in the ground.

Changing lot lines makes two homes possible

It's more infill development in South Kensington to share as the "build wherever you can" motif continues to transform old out of date garages and vacant lots into residential units. This time, developers have taken two lots next to a bodega where Palethorp hits Master Street and they're rearranging lot lines to build two single-family homes.

Current view

Right now, 180 Master St. is definitely a buildable lot, measuring 17' wide by about 53' deep. 1349 Palethorp St. presents a bigger challenge, as it's an unusual 36' wide and only 17' deep. But if you move the lot lines around, you can slightly reduce the footprint of the corner property and extend the Palethorp property to allow for two reasonably sized lots and eventually homes. It's common sense stuff really. Both lots were acquired in January of this year by Infill Ventures, a most fitting name, for about $125K together. Interestingly, the lots were previously owned by two different parties who were able to coordinate the sales of their separate lots, probably resulting in higher sale prices for both.

Apartments joining warehouses

The 1000 block of Wood Street doesn't seem like a natural fit for development at first glance. It's half a block from the Vine Street Expressway. The block is lined with warehouses that contain, among other businesses, a food distributor, an art gallery, and a tofu factory. Though the viaduct nearby might soon become a park, it more looms over the area than benefits it right now.

On the other hand, the Goldtex building is just a block away. There's been other development nearby in the neighborhood, including the project we recently revisited on Noble Street. And if when the viaduct turns into a park, this location will suddenly become extremely desirable. So really it isn't so shocking that we recently came upon three new foundations at 1028-32 Wood St., a former parking lot.

In the past
Current view

This project is odd in that we couldn't find any permitting info online. Fortunately, a sign on the site filled in the blanks. Soon, 3 four-story buildings will rise here, each with five apartment units. This will be a change for this block, which is currently, as we said above, quite industrial. But like so many other blocks in this formerly industrial neighborhood, times are changing.