New Construction

Three homes under construction now

We're seeing a common redevelopment theme these days in East Kensington, though it's much more obvious on some blocks than on others. Last week we found ourselves on the 2000 block of E. Hazzard St., a block that's in the midst of some fairly significant changes. Just a few years ago, this block had more vacant land than it had occupied homes, an unfortunate deterioration that must have taken decades. Just in the last couple of years though, new homes have sprouted. V2 Properties built two homes at 2012 and 2014 E. Hazzard St., both of which sold last month. Another developer built a home next door which sold at the end of last year.

Three relatively recent additions to the block

Across the street, V&B Properties have built three skinnier homes in a project dubbed the Haz3Homes, and they've already sold one of them. The remaining homes are listed for sale, with one at 325K and 2019 E. Hazzard St. listed at $335K.

But we don't have the specifics just yet

We moved to South Philly a little less than a decade ago and quickly discovered a new Mexican place at 12th & Passyunk & Morris called Cantina Los Caballitos. As the years have passed, this intersection has seen all kinds of change. El Zarape has come and gone, with the excellent Bing Bing Dim Sum taking its place. Doggie Style has moved to the south to make way for Birra. A double-wide building at the northwest corner of 12th & Morris, previously home to Artisan Boulanger Patissier, has been demolished, and a new building has arrived in its place. Neighborhood stalwart Interior Concepts has closed, and to the south, A Man's Image will soon move to a smaller location.

Bing Bing Dim Sum

Now let's look to the future, shall we? The clearest situation can be found at 1709 E. Passyunk Ave., home to A Man's Image for the last sixty years. According to Michael Klein, a Spanish wine and tapas restaurant called Barcelona is slated for the space, and this will be the fourteenth location for this small chain owned by Barteca. With a 4,400 sqft space, Barcelona will be one of the largest restaurants on Passyunk Avenue. Of course, a space across the street could present a challenge to that title.

Apartment building coming next door too

A century ago, the 900 block of Marshall Street was home to a bustling outdoor market, with hundreds of pushcart vendors hawking all manner of products. By the time the 1960s rolled around, the changing neighborhood and the threat of an urban renewal plan meant an end to the pushcarts on Marshall Street, and the block began a slow decline that persisted until very recently. A couple years ago, we were excited to see some buildings rising here, closer to Poplar Street, and that has slowly continued ever since.

A bunch of newer buildings close to Poplar Street

Today we look a little bit to the north on this same block, where an old building will soon be renovated into apartments and two buildings will rise on either side of it. At 980 N. Marshall St., the Kneses Israel Anshe S'fard built a synagogue in 1909 for $1,000, according to a story from the Jewish Exponent. The congregation moved away in the 1960s, and the building was most recently home to the Emmanuel Full Gospel Temple. Despite the fact that the building has been a church for many years now, you can still see the original Hebrew inscription at the top of the building's facade.

Could apartments be possible for this location?

Grays Ferry has seen some amount of redevelopment in the last few years, but most of it has been limited to the northern and eastern section of the neighborhood. That's why we were fairly shocked to hear from a reader that spotted zoning notices at a vacant lot at 3229 Tasker St., across the street from Audenried High School and just a few steps from I-76.

Zoning notices
View of Audenried at 32nd & Tasker
Looking toward I-76

This parcel is quite large, measuring over 6,000 sqft, and could accommodate a large number of apartments by right, since it's zoned for multi-family use. On the other hand, we're not too sure that people would clamor to live so close to a highway onramp. We thought it was quite odd for this parcel to be zoned for residential use, we'd think that commercial or industrial would make much more sense given the proximity of the highway. Digging a little deeper though, we discovered that most of this pocket is similarly zoned.

Across the street from Sidecar

Things sure have changed in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood in the last decade. Back then, vacant homes still dotted the streets and some large parcels remained, ripe for redevelopment. There were a few more churches, too. Today, but a handful of vacant lots remain and we can't think of too many large parcels left in the neighborhood. As such, a lot of the development we're seeing here these days involves renovation of existing buildings or the complete demolition of existing buildings and the construction of something all new in their place. Such is the case for two adjacent properties on the 2200 block of Christian Street.

The view in the past
Current view

Developers acquired 2204 and 2206 Christian St. last year, paying $340K (yikes!) for the former and a much more appropriate $230K for the latter. The old homes are now getting torn down, and new buildings will rise in their place. The permits aren't clear about exactly what we can expect here, but given the purchase price and the multi-family zoning for the properties, we'd wager on condos. Perhaps we'll see duplexes, or maybe even triplexes. And with Sidecar trucking along across the street, this would seem like an ideal location for anyone looking to move to the neighborhood.

And they're much bigger than they look

A formerly wooded stretch of Manayunk Avenue is slowly transforming into a row of new homes. In the past, this side of the 4000 block of Manayunk Avenue looked like this:

In the past

If you pass by today though, you'll see a very different scene.

Second phase of homes have gray brick

News of this project first came out at the end of 2012, according to the Roxborough-Manayunk Patch. The twelve-home project has been built in two phases, with the first five homes finishing in 2014. Those homes sold in the mid-$400K range. Despite a fire about half a year ago, the second phase has been slowly going up, and a few are currently listed at prices a little below and a little above $600K.

Head-on view of a second phase home

Though it may appear to be the case at a quick glance, these are not two-story homes. Like other projects in Manayunk, these homes sit on a steep hill and have additional stories "below grade." Each home has 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, parking, and over 3,000 sqft of living space. And the views ain't bad, either.

A little mixed-use building is on the way

It was almost exactly two years ago that we brought a development opportunity to your attention at 1713-15 Fairmount Ave., after we noticed 'For Sale' signs posted on an old garage and vacant lot next door to Stone's Beverage Center. About a year and a half later, we learned that MJL Properties had jumped on the property, and had plans for a four-story mixed-use building with ground floor retail and parking, and ten apartments on the upper floors. Checking in on the project today, we see that the old garage has been demolished and a fresh foundation has appeared.

We have to assume two homes are coming

There's another small project coming to East Kensington, but we're not exactly sure what it'll look like. Today we spied a zoning notice at 2023 E. Letterly St., a vacant lot on a block that sits between Coral and Emerald Streets. Homes only line one side of the block, with the Kensington Health Sciences Academy covering the other side.

Zoning notice

Developers bought this property about a year ago and went to the ZBA a couple of weeks ago with a plan to subdivide the property into two parts. This makes some sense, as the property is roughly 26' wide. The zoning application doesn't mention the plans for the property, but we have to imagine the developers will build two homes here. At 13' wide, they'll be two rather skinny homes, but compared to some of the other new homes in the neighborhood, they'll be positively cavernous. We wonder whether these homes will feature a third-floor setback like the newer home nearby. Let's hope not.

Just like its newer neighbor

Back in 2014, we first covered an interesting development case at 245 S. 45th St., where an old derelict Victorian rowhome was being torn down and replaced with a fifteen unit building, taking up another vacant parcel next door. We then checked back in on the project last summer to find it completely built out but still missing its facade. At that time, it was becoming ever more obvious that this building was not going to fit very well into the neighborhood of beautiful architecture. Here's what the building looks like today:

New apartment building on the right, traditional Spruce Hill home on the left

Not terrible, but not great either. In case you didn't notice it in the photo, there's a gaping hole right in between the newer building and the older ones. Just last summer, this lot held a perfectly functioning 6 bedroom rental house, practically identical to its neighbors, renting out for $2300 a month. It was torn down over the past few months and it looks like a new building, which will copy the format of its brand new neighbor, will be built in its stead. Last year, the property was sold to an owner under the name South Fortyfive 243 for the sizable sum of $400K.

Or else time is passing slower than usual

Getting in the ground for the Museum Towers II project took quite some time, so it's a little jarring to see that construction is moving along so rapidly. It was back in 2012 that we first told you about plans to replace a surface parking lot between 18th & 19th, Buttonwood Street & Mattias Baldwin Park with a residential tower and some homes, but it was two years before the project even went before Civic Design Review. Finally, last summer, we discovered that developers Forest City had started construction, with a pile of fresh dirt announcing that the project was underway.

Passing by last week, we discovered so much progress.