New Construction

Squeezed in but looking spacious

In Fishtown, developers are stuffing in new houses wherever they can. As in East Kensington, they're building homes on super skinny lots, unexpectedly small lots, and on little streets. Take, for example, the 1400 block of Emerick St., which qualifies as little more than an alley that leads to Miller Street. Still, Brickstone Group LLC is building three houses at 1410-14 Emerick St., former vacant lots. These guys are also, by the way, involved in a project on Coral Street that we've covered.

In the past
Current view from Belgrade St.
Closer look

The developers purchased the lots a little less than a year ago, and are now offering three homes for sale for a range of prices. The largest, with 2,600 sqft of space, 4 bedrooms, and 3.5 bathrooms, is listed for $469K. A skinnier version, with 1,750 sqft inside, 3 bedrooms, and 3.5 bathrooms, is listed for $384K. With high performance closed cell insulation, at least the energy bills should be extremely reasonable for whoever ends up buying these homes.

Refining the vision

We're generally peeved about large vacant lots in prominent locations. Broad & Washington (two lots!) drives us nuts. We're annoyed about the large triangular lot at 19th & Wylie in Francisville. And the vacant lot at 13th & South has raised our ire for years.

The lot

But ah, when those lots get developed does it ever feel good. That's why we were so excited to share the news earlier this year that new owners, PRDC Properties, had stepped in with plans to finally redevelop the parcel. We shared a rendering from Interface Studio back in June, but the visuals have changed some. So here we go.

New construction condos in Old City

Over the last several months, a new four-story building has appeared on the 100 block of Race Street. This quadplex, which has been dubbed Race Street Square, is replacing a surface parking lot at 138 Race St. that was previously associated with the building next door. Since cars had to go up on the sidewalk to access said parking lot, the new building certainly seems like a safer alternative.

The new building

It looks like three of the four condo units are still on the market, with prices ranging from $369K for a 1 bed/1.5 bath unit to $439K for a 2 bed/3 bath unit. And you can't argue with the location. Just down the street, past the Race Street Connector, is the wonderful Race Street Pier. And the surrounding blocks have all the Old City goodness with galleries, bars, restaurants, and so forth. And it's far enough away from the weekend rigamarole south of Market Street that the block is pretty quiet, outside of bridge and Patco traffic across the street. Our only regret on this project is that we wish they would have gone for something a little more creative architecturally, given then rich history of the area.

Homes get a facelift

The other week, we passed by Carpenter Square on 17th Street just south of Carpenter, and saw some work happening that piqued our interest. This project, in case you don't remember, has meant the construction of eleven new homes on a long vacant lot. A second phase, with a mixed-use building and a courtyard at the corner, is currently under construction. In a neighborhood for which an unattractive architectural style is named, the handsome look of this project has been a welcome break from recent history.

The homes in the past
Mixed-use phase under construction

The construction that caught our eye a few weeks back was not work on the corner, but on the homes that were finished earlier this year. It looked like the facades were being replaced. So we reached out to the developers to get the scoop.

Comes as a shock to nobody

As the vacant land near 40th & Baring has continued to fill in with new construction student housing, it comes as no surprise that existing properties are now seeing some attention from developers as well. Last month, we directed your attention to an apartment building just north of the intersection, blighted for years, which was finally getting renovated. Today we look at 328 N. 40th St., a large building on the southwest corner.

Interior demolition is ongoing

Though the building was occupied until about a year ago, it's looked shabby for quite some time. Still, it has some nice architectural details like an intact cornice, some bay windows, and a fancy entryway. It's also got what looks like an addition on the 40th Street side which was either a functioning flower shop at one point or was intended as a flower shop but the business never happened.

Joining its brethren

A couple months back, we visitied the 2200 block of Coral Street, noting the appearance of a new home at 2231 Coral St. and foundations for two more next door. The homes, collectively from developers Luval Inc., were of particular interest because of their slenderness. The typical Philly row home is 16' wide, but these were a mere 12' from side to side. The difference is significant.

We were back on the block the other day and spied some progress. The foundations have been framed out. And the home that had been framed out now has a facade and stucco on the side. All three are currently available for sale, with prices ranging from $310K to $330K. Check out the progress:

Current view

The vacant lot next door, which we told you will eventually turn into four more skinny homes, remains vacant at this time. We wonder whether those developers are waiting for the project next door to finish before they bring more supply to the area or whether something else is holding up the project.

A new hotel for West Philly

Over the summer, while attending a wedding in Connecticut, we stayed at a cute hotel in New Haven called The Study at Yale. Next to the elevator, there was an easel with a rendering of a future hotel, The Study at University City. It's like they knew we were coming!

Project rendering

Developers Hospitality 3 recently presented this project to Civic Design Review, clearing the way for this project to get underway on the northwest corner of 33rd & Chestnut. The building is designed by Digsau, and will stand ten stories high. It will include 212 hotel rooms, a restaurant, and meeting and banquet facilities on the second floor. The building is right on the border of Penn and Drexel, but it will apparently target Drexel families, coming to visit their kids. Currently, the James E. Marks Interculural Center building is on the site. The scale of the new building seems much more appropriate, given the location and all the institutional development taking place nearby.

After a single predecessor was demolished

We were driving through Roxborough last week, and spotted some new construction from maybe a quarter of a mile away. This is what happens when developers build on the top of a hill. When we were finally in front of 4004 Pechin St., we discovered two new homes that were recently framed out. Previously, a vacant home sat here on an oversized lot.

In the past

That home possessed a similar architectural character to the home next door, which was made more interesting by the fact that all the other homes on this side of the block are only two stories tall. Still, it should come as no surprise that the developers, who acquired the parcel back in 2012, are opting for three story homes to replace the one they tore down. Check 'em out.

Homes will replace it, like we told ya

Over the summer, we shared the news that Lily Development was planning seven new homes over the 700 blocks of Bainbridge and Kater Streets. Some kind of residential development on these parcels makes perfect sense. 739-41 Bainbridge St. was an unattractive garage for many years that's now been demolished. 734-38 Bainbridge St. had been home to Klinghoffer Carpet for quite awhile, but we'd posit that homes are more appropriate for this location than a big carpet store. We know there was some community opposition to the project, but that was due to the details of the homes like front loading garages for some and bulk for others. Despite this, the project was approved by the ZBA and now seems to be moving forward. Recently, demolition signs appeared on the former carpet store.

Demolition coming soon

Signs advertising the project, which is being called Bella Vista Strada, have appeared on both sides of the street. A reminder, the project includes three homes on the south side of Bainbridge, two homes on the north side of Bainbridge, and two more homes on Katers Street. Ah, what developer doesn't love a good street-to-street lot?

One section at a time

Early this summer, we spotted new construction activity at 31st & Thompson, behind the still kind-of new Brewerytown Bottom Dollar. We were pleased to fill you in on the project, dubbed 31 Brewerytown, as Westrum's newest venture into the neighborhood where they previously built Brewerytown Square. When we passed by the project site today, we were really surprised at the amount of progress in just a few months. And then we realized that it's a modular build and everything made much more sense.

Nice progress
Modules on the 3000 block of Thompson St.

In case you don't remember the details of the project, it will feature four-story buildings with a total of sixty-four rental apartments. The units will start at $1,200/month and will have high end features and finishes. Many of the units will have balcony space, and parking will be available for some tenants as well. Check out the look of the project: