It's been a few years since our last visit to the 1200 block of Carpenter Street, an unusual Hawthorne block in that the south side is covered entirely by a playground and the Hawthorne Cultural Center while the north side of this block is dominated by 1241 Carpenter Studios, a collection of artist studios located in a former belt manufacturing building. Despite these factors, developers were building a triplex on the block when we visited last, and with that building long finished we believe they're renting out the units. Next door to the newish triplex is a double wide 2,500 sqft parcel that's mostly empty but for a small one-story garage.
North side of the street
As you can see in the image above, the owners of this property have been marketing it for sale. And perhaps you can also see that the building has a zoning notice posted, so it's probably a safe bet that they've found somebody that wants to buy it. Looking at the zoning application, we see that the potential buyers want to construct a new building here that rises up to 60' and includes six apartment units. Interestingly, last summer, another proposal came through for this property for a quadplex with two-car parking, but it got withdrawn from the ZBA. We don't go to many community meetings in Hawthorne, perhaps someone who lives in the neighborhood can explain the change in plans? Also, wouldn't you think that neighbors would prefer fewer units with parking, rather than more units and no parking? Of course, the industrial zoning for the property doesn't help anybody.
Want to buy a home in East Kensington? We've got good news and bad news. The good news is that the neighborhood has improved by leaps and bounds and is pretty much better than it's ever been. The bad news is that home prices have gone up as the neighborhood has developed, and projects are happening deeper into the neighborhood, ever closer to Lehigh Avenue. Remember, just a few weeks ago, we told you about the Avenue 30 project, a thirty home development which will have some frontage on Lehigh. Wow.
So it should come as no surprise that we have news about plans for four new homes at 2130 E. Albert St., with two new homes fronting Albert Street and two new homes for Harold Street. Harold Street is a mixed bag to be polite, with one side of the street dominated by a large warehouse that may or may not be in use, and the other side a collection of two-story homes. The proposed homes are planned for the side with the two-story homes, 'natch.
Behind this building is the 700 block of Daly Street, a fairly standard South Philly block with a little more vacancy than we'd have expected. The north side of the street is mostly filled in, though there are a handful of double-wide vacant lots to be found. The south side of the block worse, with a mix of vacant lots and a fenced-in surface parking lot. It's two of the vacant lots on the south side, 728 and 730 Daly St., that have the zoning notices.
A new addition has appeared on Laurel Street in Northern Liberties, representing the second phase of a project that began over a decade ago. According to a story in Arch Daily, Capital Meats was located at 144-158 W. Laurel St. for about 80 years, closing in 1989. After the business closed, the buildings quickly fell into disrepair, looking absolutely terrible by 1999, when folks from Onion Flats took their first tour. They purchased the property, demolishing the structure at the corner of Hancock & Laurel and converting the remaining building into 8 units, dubbed Capital Flats. This project was finished in 2002 and looked pretty much the same until last year.
Whether you're laying bricks for a new row home or painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, you're gonna need some scaffolding to reach those areas that sit more than the first few feet off the ground. And that scaffolding needs to come from somewhere. Many builders (and famous Renaissance artists), get their scaffolding from Eastern Scaffolding, located for many years on Front Street, in the shadow of an I-95 onramp. But a zoning notice recently appeared at their address at 408 N. Front St., indicating that the scaffolding business is out and apartments are in.
A decade ago, when the Graduate Hospital neighborhood still had more than its fair share of blight, the sight of a vacant building didn't really cause anybody to think twice. Today, it's a different story, with demand for homes in this neighborhood at an all time high and developers vying for an increasingly short supply of potential projects. This was pretty much the case a couple years ago too, when we wondered about the vacant building at the southeast corner of 15th & Fitzwater. Here's a look at the building in 2009, to give you an idea of why it caught our attention:
The view in 2009
The property is owned by the family that owns the Slater Funeral Home, located next door on the 1400 block of Fitzwater Street. They acquired the property over 35 years ago, but we couldn't tell you what kind of condition it was in back then. Perhaps in response to a violation, the owners installed some actual windows a couple years back to make the building seem less vacant, but we're pretty confident that it has remained empty in the years since then. But that situation seems to be changing.
We were traveling across South Philadelphia the other day and spotted some construction projects on the 500 and 600 blocks of McKean Street, an unsurprising sight given some other development we've seen in this neck of the woods in recent years. On the 500 block, two lots at 537 and 539 McKean St. had been sitting vacant for many years and are now seeing a pair of homes rise. These homes will have some nice balconies on the upper floors, giving them a different look than the standard new construction home you'll see around town.
Two new homes on the 500 block
On the very next block, two more homes are under construction. At 606 McKean St., the same developers working on the homes on the 500 block are building another home. This is pretty clear based on the architectural similarities of the three homes. At 602 McKean St., V2 Properties is staking claim to yet another project in this area, where they've already built a ton of homes. It's clear that the home is being built by V2 both because that's what it says on public record and a sign in the window of the new home says as much.
Westrum Development was a pioneer in Brewerytown construction, building the Brewerytown Square project a little over a decade ago on a block-sized parcel that had been sitting vacant for decades. For years after, Brewerytown Square was on something of an island, surrounded by tons of vacancy. Since the market began its recovery, those properties have slowly filled in. A shopping center with a supermarket appeared to the south. The Fairmount @ Brewerytown project renovated an old warehouse across the street into apartments and retail. And Westrum doubled down on the neighborhood with the 31 Brewerytown project on the 3000 and 3100 blocks of Thompson Street, adding over a hundred new units to the neighborhood. Now Westrum is set to, uh, triple down on the neighborhood, to coin a phrase.
We aren't exactly sure what brought us to the 2400 block of Kimball Street the other day, but when you consider that there was snow all over the place at the time and it was like 70 degrees yesterday, perhaps you can forgive us for not remembering- it feels like a lifetime ago. Whatever the thought process was that brought us to the block was quickly interrupted by the sight of 2440 Kimball St. and the giant pile of garbage bags in front of it. The photos don't really do justice to the impressiveness of this pile of construction detritus.
Looking west on Kimball Street
All the garbage bags
As we said, we were there a few days ago so it's quite possible that this isn't the current situation. And in case you're wondering, this is a renovation project that will involve the addition (with an unfortunate setback, 'natch) of a 3rd floor. You can see this is a mostly intact block of two-story homes, heaven forbid a developer use a mansard roof here. On the plus side, since it's a rehab, at least they'll be maintaining the cornice line.
Starting at 16th Street, as you head east on Dickinson in Point Breeze, you'll notice several projects are currently in the early stages of construction. First we'll mention the long-vacant lot at 1537-1539 Dickinson St., a spot that was previously even more vacant until developers built a home 1541 Dickinson St. a couple years ago. While that home has been offered as a rental for the last few years, we have to imagine that the pair of homes planned next door will be listed for sale. It bears mentioning that the two homes are being built by different developers, so you shouldn't expect they'll look alike or get built on the same timeline.
Construction fence on the 1500 block
Moving to 15th Street, we see a foundation has been partially poured at the northeast corner. This double-wide property is getting developed by a single developer, who has combined two parcels into one and is in the process of building a triplex. This project had to go to the ZBA last year, and we're a little surprised they got a variance, as we don't see any particular hardship for building 3 apartments here instead of 2 homes. Some near neighbors might consider this whole project to be a hardship, as it fills in a well maintained and well used green space. So it goes so often when privately owned land is used thusly.