New Construction

Developers came back with a revised proposal

Before the New Year, we told you about plans to transform a vacant lot/garage combo at 1123-27 Earl St. into 14 single-family homes. That project was supported by the community and approved by the ZBA in February.

Across the street, the Fishtown Neighbors Association supported plans for 17 units and ten parking spots at 1133 E Columbia Ave., a vacant lot, next door to the Candy Factory building. Designed by Harman Deutsch, it was approved by the Zoning Board a couple of weeks ago. The parcel stretches all the way to Earl Street. This project originally came before FNA last fall, at the same time as the aforementioned 14-home project, but didn't get support. Shedding a few of the units and making a couple of design changes got the community behind the project. 

Three homes are under construction

A few years ago, the tide of development started flowing across Washington Avenue, and new homes appeared on blocks like Ellsworth, Federal, and Latona Streets. But there wasn't a whole lot happening south of Wharton Street, at least in the western sections of Point Breeze. More recently, we've seen a serious bump in construction south of Wharton, with many projects in the ground and some more still to come. Today we look at the 1700 block of Dickinson Street, where three homes are currently under construction and at least one more should follow soon.

Two new homes are under construction

The southeast corner of 18th & Dickinson has been vacant since at least 2007 per Google Maps, and we're guessing for many years before that as well. If you visit the corner today, you'll see two new homes under construction. Emerald Properties bought the three lots on the corner a couple of years ago and now they're redeveloping the properties. The corner lot is zoned commercial and has approvals for a first floor commercial space and an apartment above. They have an application to the ZBA to build a single-family home, but whether they get approval remains to be seen.

One larger project and a couple of one-offs

Over the last few years, the blocks surrounding the intersection of 19th & Poplar have seen so much change. On the southwest corner, a church was demolished and replaced with six homes. On the southeast corner, duplexes replaced vacant lots. Just to the south, a major project resulted in over thirty new units with a combination of apartments and new homes. Oh, and a bunch of homes also went up on Ginnodo Street too.

Six homes that replaced a church on the southwest corner
Duplexes on the southeast corner
A gaggle of new units just south of the intersection

For neighbors who have lived through this sea change, we'd guess they wouldn't expect much more development in the area. After all, what's left?

But it seems that developers have found at least a few more projects to bring to the area. One of them, we actually first told you about a couple of years ago. For years, the stretch of 19th Street between Cambridge and George was a combination of vacant lots and a blighted building. Now the building is gone and there's four foundations. Look for at least a couple of triplexes.

A new Whole Foods is that much closer

Have you been to 21st & Hamilton lately? It's a major construction zone right now, thanks to the Rodin Square project. Remember, we first told you about this two summers ago. Last July, we told you about the fence surrounding the old Best Western Hotel, signifying the demolition was neigh. By the time September rolled around, most of the hotel was gone. Now the hotel is totally demolished and construction has been going on for a good amount of time. Now you can see a good section of the building that's already risen from the ground.

View from 21st & Spring Garden
From Hamilton Street

You can't see from this perspective, but there's much more building brewing to the west, but that effort is still underground aside from some framing near 22nd & Spring Garden.

So many other projects nearby

If you were to look at a map of Northern Liberties, and on this map include new development projects since 2013 alone, you would see projects at various levels on so many blocks. Such consistent development points to an ongoing trend in the neighborhood where you'd be hard-pressed to walk more than a block or two before coming upon a project that's under five years old.

That's the sort of framework we consider when we think about smaller projects, like plans at 410 Green St. for a one-off single-family home. On the surface, it's one simple project. But, there's more to it than that. Right now, the lot is corner parcel and serves as a small parking lot. It's where Green Street intersects with N. Lawrence street, where, yes, there's been new building the past few years. Silk City is around the corner too. Recently, the Northern Liberties Neighbors Neighbors Association supported plans for a home with a garage, designed by Harman Deutsch.

Buildings will be replaced by Dranoff's SLS building

Back at the end of 2013, we attended an event that served as the kickoff for a new project from Dranoff Properties at the corner of Broad & Spruce. In the five seasons that have passed since then, it's been pretty much status quo at this corner, the former home of Philadelphia International Records. A couple of months ago, we spied demolition notices on the property. And when we passed by yesterday, we discovered a demolition effort that's well underway.

Will join another project coming soon on the block

It's no secret that South Kensington is experiencing a building boom. And we've seen projects of all shapes and sizes in the neighborhood, with one-off projects, multi-home projects, and major mixed use projects all within blocks of each other. In the fall, we told you about plans for twenty new homes in the middle of the 1300 block of Mascher Street, and we confess we don't really have any updates on that project at this time. But if you take just a few steps to the north, to 1350 Mascher St., there's definitely something brewing.

In the past
Recent view
Looking down Mascher Street toward the other project that's in the pipeline

As you can see, an old warehouse has been totally demolished. In its place is now a vacant lot. But the signs on the site suggest that it won't remain vacant for long. No folks, Mascher Street is getting another twenty homes. Check out the rendering and site plan:

The rest is probably gone by now

Last summer, we told you that the former Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ at 1401 Marlborough St. was under agreement at a list price of $750K. At the time, we speculated that any buyer stepping in at that price point would likely be demolishing the handsome building, likely in favor of residential development. It was just a few months later that our suspicions were confirmed and plans came out from Greenpoint Developers, an offshoot of Tower Investments for six homes on the site. After negotiations with the community, the oddly shaped sixth home was axed and the project got approval from the ZBA. At that point, it was just a matter of time before the church came down.

Old picture of the church

Recently, when we told you about plans for tacos on Frankford Avenue, we mentioned that demolition had begun at the church. When we passed by last week, only one entranceway remained from a church that was originally built in 1841. It would come as no surprise to us if even this remnant has now passed into oblivion.

Demolition reveals an old sign

Years ago, we brought you to the 1300 block of N. Palethorp St. and told you about a new home under construction in a bit of a DIY situation. The owner didn't hire a builder, he was instead building the home on nights and weekends in his spare time. We're not sure how long the project took to complete, but we're pleased to say it looks like it's all done. Just to the south, a new project looms on the horizon, though this time we suspect professionals will be taking care of the construction.

In the past
Current view

As you can see, at 1314-16 N. Palethorp St., a cinderblock wall and an old garage have been demolished. Keystone Group LLC bought the properties about a year ago, and looking at an old listing it looks like the southern parcel was previously home to a swimming pool. Interestingly, as you can see in the second photo (and as a reader was kind enough to tell us about), the demolition has revealed what looks like a sign for the auto detailing place that may or may not still be in operation next door. Not as cool as a swimming pool, but still.

Another great addition to West Girard

Yesterday, we came upon an excavator in a hole at a construction site at Taney & Brown in the Fairmount neighborhood. Today, we stroll a couple of blocks to the north, to where Taney Street hits Girard Avenue. Last summer, the last time we visited this intersection, developers MM Partners had just demolished two buildings on the northeast corner. Remember, their original plans had been to renovate the buildings that once stood here, but fatal structural problems made salvaging the buildings impossible. So they went the demolition route, and they're now in the process of building a big new building on this parcel dubbed the Braverman Building.

New building is progressing

This building, as we told you previously, will have sixteen apartments and two retail spaces. One of those spaces is already spoken for, and will house the MM Partners offices. We'll be interested to see who takes the other space.

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