New Construction

Could this be the project that moves Washington Avenue forward?

Last night, developers presented plans at the monthly SOSNA zoning meeting for a new building at 2401 Washington Ave., a property that today is a vacant lot. You can imagine, this kind of development would tickle us pink.

Vacant lot today, building to come?

At the meeting, representatives from Harman Deutsch talked through the project before a relatively small crowd, detailing a proposal for this oddly shaped lot. In short, the plan calls for a five-story building with 113 units, about half as many parking spaces on the first floor, and commercial space on Washington Avenue. Check out some pretty images of what's currently on the table.

It's been about a decade

It was over three years ago that we first brought the north side of the 100 block block of Alter Street to your attention, but the stalled construction has been bogging down the block for almost a decade. From what we can tell, the Stein & Silverman Family Partnership started work on three homes here in 2004 or 2005 after building two homes next door on Front Street. They cleared the lot, put in foundations, and then did absolutely nothing. As the years have rolled along, the lots have alternately been overgrown and strewn with garbage and then cleaned up by neighbors and/or owners. Also, the entire south side of the block has filled in with new construction, as we've detailed.

But there's good news on Alter Street. Finally, it seems these lots are going to be developed, as the owners have sold the lots to new developers. We passed by the other day and spotted the early stages of construction.

Construction seems to be starting

Not only is construction underway, but the three homes are already listed for sale. 103 Alter St. is available for $599K, 105 Alter St. can be yours for $625K, and 107 Alter St. is a steal at $700K. The first two homes will have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two half-baths. The last home, which will be long and skinny, will feature four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and one half-bath. Check out these black and white elevations from Landmark Architectural Design along with a hand-drawn site plan.

It's been well over a year but site work is underway

A biggie is finally underway in South Kensington. Back in the summer of 2013, we told you about Liberty Square, a project from Blackstone Development to redevelop an entire city block into residences, businesses, and artist space a la the nearby Piazza. Back then, the developers had just presented their plans to to the community for 247 apartments, 161 underground parking spots, and 75 bike parking spots on the large parcel bordered by Thompson Street, North American Street, Stiles Street, and Germantown Avenue. Harman Deutsch did the design work.

Project site plan

We're guessing that negotiations with the community resulted in some changes to the project, as the ZBA approved 191 units, 153 parking spots, and 159 bike spots about a year ago. Here's a rendering of the project from its original iteration, we're guessing the finished product will look something like this.

Germantown Avenue elevations

Since the project got approved, we've been waiting around patiently, optimistic that work would eventually get rolling but realistic in our expectations that projects like this are often derailed. But last week, a reader gave us the heads up that work was indeed underway on the site, with some old buildings getting demolished and heavy equipment pushing dirt around. Yesterday, we saw it with our own eyes.

Hear about 'em in person

We generally like to tell you about projects after the wheels start turning in the community process, but tonight we're gonna make an exception. On December 15th at 6:30pm, South Philadelphia Homes is holding a community meeting for several larger projects planned for Point Breeze. Later this week, we'll have some additional info on these projects, but for now here's the agenda:

- Thirteen units at 24th & Manton with thirteen parking spots
24th & Manton
- Expansion of Madira at 1252 S. 21st St., 
- Duplex 1301 S. 23rd St.
- Signage at 1447 Point Breeze Ave.
- Additiona at 1822 Latona St.
- Four homes at 2408-14 Manton St.
- Mixed-use building at 24th & Ellsworth
24th & Ellsworth

You've heard about these meetings on this site in the past- go to one and be a part of the community process!

Disclosure: This may come as a shock but our parent company, OCF Realty, is involved in none of these projects.

Next to a row of homes under construction

Two months ago, when we last visited New Market Street in Northern Liberties, we updated you on a couple of projects currently under construction. Since then, the three new homes under construction at the corner of New Market & Laurel have progressed some outside, and we imagine they've gotten quite a bit of work done inside in the meantime.

Recent shot

Next door, at 117 W Laurel St., the community voted to support plans for a new home designed by KJO Architecture at one of last month's Northern Liberties Neighbors Association zoning meetings. The ZBA approved the project last week. Last acquired in September 2013 for $95K, the parcel is zoned for industrial use even in the recent remapping associated with Phila2035, which sought to update zoning classifications and other details of neighborhood parcels that were long outdated.

“I was surprised when he called and I looked it up [to find it] was industrial,” said Larry Freedman, NLNA zoning chair.

So much development taking place

If you've looked west from Center City across the river, it's hard to miss the growing University City skyline. There's now Evo near the Cira Centre; a 25-story mixed-use tower going up at 38th & Chestnut; and The Study, a new 10-story hotel is going up at 33rd & Chestnut; next to Chestnut Square, the 861-bed Drexel building recently finished at 32nd & Chestnut. 

That's just to name a few.  Last year, the biggest change in University City was a spike in the amount of private investment. This year, according to the State of University City 2014/2015 report, released by the University City District, it's more investment. So much so, it's leading the city, with 82% of all office construction in the region taking place in UC. It's no surprise that the cover to their report featured a crane.

Cover of the report

“I think the biggest story has to be the scale of the new residential construction here,” said Seth Budick of UCD, “which will really change the face of 'downtown University City' creating an even more vibrant core, and which is a response to the ongoing growth in employment and university enrollment, and the desire for close proximity between work and home.”

We thought things would look different by now

Back in the spring we shared news how a decade-long vacant corner lot at 46th & Sansom had finally changed hands from the Redevelopment Authority to new owners, a process that took almost ten years, and work on six buildings, each with four two-bedroom apartments, was underway. But when we passed by recently, that lot was not a project in progress, but a big lump of bulldozed earth.

Lot shows no progress

Meanwhile, just across the street, workers were busy commanding cranes, demolishing a strip of old long-blighted homes also owned by the Redevelopment Authority. In their history, 125-129 S. 46th St. have compiled a nice rap sheet of L&I violations. The PRA also owns 133-35 S. 46th St. to round up this fist of sorry old buildings. At the least, the demolition of these buildings will eliminate blight in the neighborhood. Hopefully, it means the parcels will soon turn over and new construction will rise here.

Mirrors changes on the corridor

For years, the northwest corner of 17th & South was a large vacant lot. Three summers back, we told you of plans to redevelop the parcel, a project that would mean nine apartment units and a 7-11 on the first floor. It took awhile, but construction finally started moving earlier this year. And then it came to a screeching halt and the project sat, seemingly in limbo, for several months. Thankfully, construction started moving again in October or November, and much progress has been made. The building is certainly an upgrade over what we had here before, though we confess we're holding out hope that the 7-11 thing will fall through.

Construction is on track again

Across the street, it's worthwhile to mention that another project we talked about way back when is set to move forward. In May of 2013, we told you that Puentes de Salud, a non-profit that focuses on health care needs of the Latino community, was hoping to open a clinic on the southwest corner of 17th & South, in a space that's attached to an unattractive parking garage. We always kind of envisioned a bar opening there, but South Street West has gotten new drinking establishments in other locations such that near neighbors shouldn't find themselves so thirsty these days.

New restaurant coming soon, new building sometime later

Our last official visit to the corner(s) of 12th & Morris & Passyunk came back in July. We say that because we've unofficially visited several times since, enjoying tasty food and beverage at Cantina and Birra. Soon enough, those places will have some company. Remember, El Zarape left their space at the beginning of this year because of escalating rent, and the guys from Cheu Noodle Bar will be opening a place called Bing Bing Dim Sum. According to Michael Klein, they're looking to open their doors in January.

Plenty of action in this area

In Northern Liberties, the blocks near the corner of 4th & Fairmount are in the midst of big changes. Last winter, we told you about the planned conversion of the former TransAtlantic Warehouse on Fairmount Avenue into 48 apartments, and a couple of weeks ago we told you about new homes under construction at 4th & Brown.

400 block of Fairmount Avenue

Now, the former Royal Bank branch at the northwest corner along with several properties along Fairmount Avenue are set for rehab. Wrapping around the corner onto N. 4th Street, there's currently a garage that stretches back to Olive Street which will be demolished and replaced with five new homes by developer Sam Weiner of IronStone.

4th & Fairmount
These will go and be replaced

“The project was pretty much by right,” said Larry Freedman, Northern Liberties Neighbors Association zoning chair.