It's been a few months since we last checked in on the 2300 block of Alter Street in Point Breeze. Back in April, we updated you on the progress of the residential development on the block, noting that additional homes were under construction and many units had sold from the first phase of the project. At the same time, an unfortunate storage facility was rising on the north side of the street (and more prominently on the 2300 block of Washington Avenue), and we knew it would only continue to get taller as the months rolled off the calendar. Checking in today, we see, predictably, that more homes have been finished, more units have sold, and the storage facility has gotten bigger.
Row of new homes on the 2300 block
Tons of storage coming soon across the street
If we look a block to the east though, we see additional development on the 2200 block of Alter Street. We last visited this block in 2012, at which time a two-story modular building was under construction to be used as artist workspace. Seeing as it looked nothing like any other building in the neighborhood, a reader remarked that it looked like a spaceship had descended into Point Breeze. Four years later, there's still nothing like this building in the area.
We're not usually in the business of bringing a one-off project to your attention, but for the new home at 2251 Catharine St., we decided to make an exception. And it's not because this new home was constructed on a lot that was sitting vacant for decades.
In the past
In fact, we're bringing it to your attention because it's a remarkably handsome new home that's been built in a neighborhood famous for awful residential architecture. Even if you've never heard the term "Graduate Hospital Special," you're surely familiar with the homes that were commonly built in the neighborhood over the last decade or so, with stucco-bay windows as their most prominent feature. It's clear that the developers were looking to take this particular project in a very different direction. Perhaps a good moniker for this new home is a "Graduate Hospital Exception."
Look at this place. You've gotta love the stone base, the brick work, the mansard, the lintels, the cornice, the little bay window, and the mansard. We especially appreciate that the developers bothered to continue the brick all the way to the rear of the property, given the prominence of the back yard to people coming down 23rd Street. Nice touch.
A reader told us the other day about some ongoing demolition on the 2200 block of Wilder Street, giving us some inspiration to visit the block. We wrote about a seven home proposal on this block back in January, which would have entailed three homes on the south side of the street and four homes on the north side of the street. The three homes were to replace vacant homes and the four homes were to replace vacant lots. But the project hadn't yet gone to the ZBA and given the complicated nature of zoning in Point Breeze, we weren't entirely confident that the project would even happen.
With demolition now happening, it's a pretty clear sign that something is happening here.
When we last visited the 2300 block of Federal Street a few years back, we told you about some renovation activity on the south side of the block, close to 23rd Street. In the time since then, some of that work progressed to a logical conclusion, while other work sadly stalled out. It seems likely though, that any work that's now interrupted will eventually get finished. Such is the nature of development in Point Breeze these days.
South side of the 2300 block
At the time of our last visit, we also drew your attention to a former church on the northwest corner of the intersection. At the time, 1144 S. 23rd St. was seemingly sitting vacant, with L&I sealing the side door after a slew of violations. When we passed by the property over the weekend, the building was clearly getting some work done, so we figured we'd look into the situation.
While walking through town to meet up with some friends over the weekend, we sought some shade on the 2100 block of Waverly Street and were surprised to discover a couple of ongoing projects. We don't typically stumble upon development in this high rent part of town, making the projects a little more notable than they'd be if they were happening in South Kensington, for example. First, let's look at 2031 Waverly St., a new duplex that's getting built on a lot that was previously used for parking.
A duplex is under construction
This 850 sqft lot was listed for sale a bunch of times over the years, finally selling for $215K in 2013. We would have to imagine that the developers will sell the units off as condos, and though we don't see any listings as of yet, given the desirability of the location we suspect they'll eventually sell for high prices. Incidentally, we first thought that the garage next door was related to the new building but alas, it's just being used for parking for the adjacent property on Pine Street. Thinking about it, the different brick color was a dead giveaway and next time we'll have to pay closer attention.
It was over three years ago that we first told you about Soko Lofts and Liberty Square, two major projects that we predicted would change the face of South Kensington. Both promised the transformation of large former industrial properties into mixed-use developments with hundreds of units, multiple retail spaces, and Piazza-like common spaces. Needless to say, we were extremely excited, predicting that these projects would spur a ton of additional development in South Kensington.
Today, neither project has become a reality, but the neighborhood has nevertheless experienced a development surge. About two years ago, we told you that construction was getting started at Liberty Square at 1203 Germantown Ave., but aside from some demolition work the site has sat mostly quiescent. When we passed by the property earlier this week though, we spied something very exciting- a construction fence, a hole in the ground, and heavy machinery actively working on the site!
Despite the fact that it's been under construction for over a year, we've somehow never covered 500 Walnut, the new ultra-high-end apartment building at the southwest corner of 5th & Walnut. This parcel was sitting vacant for years, and has several development possibilities come and go before Scannapieco Development Corporation, the company that developed 1706 Rittenhouse Square, stepped forward with the project that's now happening. That project is currently about 12 stories tall but will eventually rise to 26 stories.
Sure, we haven't been to Front Street for a little while, but now our Front Street coverage is returning in force, with multiple posts in the same week! You may remember that just a couple of days ago, we told you about the upcoming renovation of a church turned warehouse on the 1500 block, which commenters have clarified will be turned into office space. Today we turn our attention to the 1800 block, where a long vacant lot is seeing some new construction activity.
View from the north
1814-16 N. Front St. is a large lot which stretches all the way to Hope Street. You can see in the image above that developers have constructed a new building on each lot, and according to the permits each building will contain three residential units. Residential buildings are by-right here, as the properties are zoned for multi-family use. We'd have guessed that the properties would be zoned commercial, but the homes next door would suggest otherwise.
When we checked in on the property last fall, it was still sitting vacant but developers had a plan to build a four-home project here, with two homes on Moyamensing Avenue and two more on 4th Street. But the project still had to go to the ZBA, so it was no sure thing at that point. Be that as it may, four homes on a 3,200 sqft lot made all kinds of sense and we were optimistic that it would happen. And our optimism has been rewarded!