New Construction

Four story building has been framed out

At 1720 Fairmount Ave., what was for years a storage lot for building materials like brick and stone is now a framed out four-story building. When it's finished, it will include 18 new apartments and complete one of the closing paragraphs of the tale about redevelopment along Fairmount Avenue.

In the past

It's been a couple of years in the making, and seeing this project get some legs, and then a torso, as it was framed, shows developers are looking to get people living in the building sometime this year.

If someone's buying it seems likely they'll be developing

A couple of weeks ago, we heard some legitimate complaints from a reader living on the 1500 block of Brown St. about the condition of several of the properties on the 1500 block of Ridge Ave. which back up to her property. Not only are the properties an eyesore, but one of them apparently caught fire a little while back. Thankfully, the fire department was able to take care of things before the fire spread. We recently made our way over there and can certainly appreciate why someone wouldn't enjoy having some of these properties behind their home.

Backs of buildings on Ridge Ave., view from Brown Street

Some of the properties on this block have been renovated while others are long vacant and in terrible condition.

Modern building replacing long vacant lot

If you head west on Cecil B. Moore Avenue past Broad Street, in the past few years, Temple-related development has grown on numerous blocks. We've seen varying types of projects, mostly in the residential realm. As large projects go, Temple opened the 27-story Morgan Hall at Broad & Cecil B. in 2013, at once changing the face of the North Broad skyline. But there have been plenty of smaller buildings coming on the scene as well.

But another restaurant is in line to take over their space

For so many years, Chilis held down the northwest corner of 38th & Chestnut, on the edge of Penn's campus. Recently, the chain restaurant shut its doors and when we passed by recently there were signs advertising a "short term lease" opportunity.

Former Chilis

Apparently someone has already jumped on the space, as the Daily Pennsylvanian reports signs in the windows of the restaurant advertising a new restaurant called Tarka. The restaurant will serve some kind of Asian cuisine, but beyond that we don't have any more details.

Sounds extremely dangerous

Society Hill Beverage is getting a roommate, er, nine of them to be exact. Assuming the ZBA says yes, soon they'll have new upstairs neighbors, as developers plan to build an addition on top of the warehouse at 129-43 Washington Ave. that currently houses the beer distributor. Plans are to build a second floor with nine apartment units.

Apartments planned above the beer distributor

This Queen Village block has seen improvements in recent years. On the south side of the street, a collection of new homes have been built, with the latest phase recently coming to a close. Long abandoned foundations are finally on the way to redevelopment on this block as well. Just next door to Society Hill Beverage, the once bleak looking Sonny's General Auto Repair at 123-29 Washington Ave., is being converted into three homes fronting League Street with garages fronting Washington Avenue. Not the most spectacular improvement, garage to garage, but it's a clear step in the right direction and points to reinvestment along a block in an area that has historically been industrial.

This lot has been waiting a long time

For as long as we can remember, the corner of 36th & Sansom has been vacant. This parcel, on Penn's campus and across the street from the bookstore, hasn't been some unkempt lot like so many we've seen around town, but it's still been a curious vacancy at a high-traffic corner.

In the past

Recently, a student reached out, notifying us that a fence had appeared around the property. Naturally, we set out to learn what's going on.

Current view

A story from last month's Philadelphia Business Journal provided the answer. According to the PBJ, this is part of a $77.6M project that will eventually result in the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics. Not only is Penn building a new structure on the corner, but they're also totally renovating the West Philadelphia Title and Trust Co. building, which will be connected to the new building. The design work on the project was done by KPMB Architects.

Next door to a row of newer homes

About a year ago, we wrote about N. 7th Street between Girard and Thompson, a blighted block in need of a facelift and dotted with potential for development. We were drawn to this block by a project at the corner of 7th & Thompson that was at that time under construction but is now complete. We noted several blighted buildings and vacant lots that begged for redevelopment just to the south of the new development, but we wondered whether it would take several years of additional Northern Liberties and Fishtown development before builders would take more of an interest in the block. It turns out it didn't even take twelve months.

According to permits approved by the ZBA for 1216-20 N. 7th St. in late January, there are plans for six new triplexes on the block. Rb3 Thompson LLC bought the lots last summer and are rearranging the lot lines to create additional density. The zoning notice mentions turning four lots into six, so we wonder whether the additional lot is to the west on Franklin Street. The parcels are oddly zoned commercial and the new project will be strictly residential, which seems appropriate given the character of the block.

Quite an improvement, if you ask us

Generally when we cover development in East Kensington, it's on Coral Street or Amber Street, or perhaps on some of the upper blocks of Frankford Avenue. Today though, we look at the easy-to-miss 2600 block of Martha Street, a block which has seen significant changes in the last few years. Check out this image from 2011 to get a sense of what we're talking about:

Back in 2011

Holy crap, this is terrible. At the corner of Albert Street there's an apparently occupied home, but next door all we see is vacant land and blight. One of the buildings on the block literally looks like Swamp Thing. We visited this block last week and it's a radically different experience.

Recent shot

The home on the corner is all that remains from the previous photo. Next door, at 2615 Martha St., a single family home is under construction. Next to that is another home that was recently built and sold. Moving further down the block are three homes that we think are rentals, owned by the Fishtown Redevelopment Authority. Guessing they're not affiliated with the PRA?

This time it's six units

The 700 block of N. 19th St. is slowly going through a major change. We've actually visited this block a few times previously, bringing the construction of a duplex to your attention in 2012 and again last year. Of course, the construction of a couple of duplexes isn't typically so notable, but when all the other properties on the block are only one story tall, it becomes a bit more of a story. As a bit of a refresher, PHA built a bunch of homes on the block in the 1980s, and let's just thank our lucky stars that architectural standards have evolved in the decades since.

Looking south on 19th St., we see a two-year-old duplex in the distance

At 742 N. 19th St., just two doors down from the most recent construction on the block, we recently spied a demolition notice, indicating that the block will soon see some more change.

Positive change for a once-neglected corner

Last April, we brought the corner of Sepviva & E. Firth to your attention, noting the early stages of a six-home development. Previously at this corner, there was a City-owned basketball court that was in poor condition, and according to commenters it was rarely used for play and occasionally used for drug dealing. So no loss there.

In the past

We passed by this corner the other day and it seems that the project is done.

Current view
Five homes on Sepviva St.

We can only find the sales of some of the homes on public record, but from the looks of it, most if not all of the homes have found buyers. Architecturally, the row of new homes certainly stands out from the older homes in the neighborhood, and for us they evoke a bit of a Lego feel. Still, those front balconies will surely be a treat once the warmer weather rolls around.

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