New Construction

Progress a welcome sight

Chadwick Street between Catharine and Fitzwater has been a constant construction zone for five plus years. It's not so long ago that this block was pretty much desolate, with vacant lots outnumbering homes by a healthy margin. A couple of multi-home and one-off projects later, the block is all filled up. Well, there's not entirely true. The block's northern end is still unoccupied, thanks to a four-home project that's been in the works for years.

We first told you about Fitz4 after developer Metro Impact presented the project to SOSNA at the end of 2011. After that, it was radio silence for quite some time. We came back to the site last June, when foundations finally appeared on the southeast corner of Chadwick & Fitzwater. The homes were framed relatively quickly, then it seems the project stalled for months. But recently, action has resumed on the site, with brick and sheathing appearing on the three homes that got framed several months back.

Facades looking close

As a refresher, the homes, designed by Shimi Zaken of Atrium LLC, will have four bedrooms, five bathrooms, and parking. There was a pre-construction option for a car lift, but we couldn't tell you whether any of the units have one. If you can't tell from the image, the corner home has a traditional Philly rectangular row home layout and the two southern homes are square-shaped.

It's actually gonna look pretty cool

A few weeks ago, we told you about plans to build a giant home on the northwest corner of 24th & Manning. To refresh your memory, this industrial-zoned lot has been vacant for quite some time, which is rather unexpected considering the location. Just a block away from the entrance to the Schuylkill River Trail, it's hard to find a more desirable location for a new home.

Current view

When we initially told you about this project, work had just started at the site. It seems little progress has been made since, so you may be wondering why we're revisiting the project so quickly. Well, if you look back at our previous post, we presented some black and white elevations drawings from Cecil Baker + Partners to give you an idea of what the home would look like. Turns out the developers have changed the design of the building, hiring Harman Deutsch to do the architecture instead. We were able to get our mitts on some renderings and thought we'd share.

Student housing isn't slowing down in University City

If you've followed the University City thread here then you're likely familiar with the flash of redevelopment that whipped through the 4000 block of Baring Street two years ago and kept on going to the 4100 block, transforming a block of vacant lots and older homes into student housing. Located just north of Market Street and just west of Lancaster Avenue, these blocks have proven attractive to developers and then students, with all of the new units occupied and more coming down the pipeline.

Today, we look at a couple of projects just one block to the north. Two years ago, the 4000 block of Spring Garden was host to a few vacant parcels, and at the end of the block on the northeast corner of Spring Garden & Budd, a three-story home was under construction after a fire.

In the past

After a long time, construction still doesn't look finished. Unfortunately, the renovation efforts have totally stripped out the architectural details that made the building so wonderful before it burned. Fortunately, the others on the block still look pretty great, at least from a distance. Meanwhile, at 4080 Spring Garden St., a new building with a third-floor setback is under construction on a former vacant lot. More student housing to come, surely.

But those bays!

Last year, a fire ravaged Jack B. Fabrics at 748 S. 4th St. on Fabric Row. When we last visited the property in April, a new building was being framed out, replacing the demolished structure. When we passed by the other day, the exterior looked nearly complete.

Before the fire
Current view

Once it's finished, the new building will have four apartments and a commercial space downstairs. In many ways, especially with the bays moving down Fitzwater Street, it seeks to imitate the building it replaces. But we have to wonder, was the architect dreaming of the shore when they designed the color scheme/material combo for those bays?

What do you think? Do you like the new building?

Shocking number of units

A reader tipped us off last week that a rowhome had been demolished on the 4200 block of Chester Ave., around the corner from Clark Park and next door to the District 3 Health Center. We passed by the other day and discovered that the old building at 4213 Chester Ave. has indeed been demolished and there's now formwork in place for a new foundation.

In the past
Current view

When we went by, we figured that this would soon be the site of a new West Philly apartment building, likely covering the same footprint as the old home that was demolished. We figured there would maybe be six units max. Instead, according to the L&I Map, the developers, who bought the property earlier this year for $650K, are building a 26-unit building. Wowza. There will be eight bicycle parking spots, and no street parking. Though they needed a variance, we're pretty sure it was only needed to accommodate an extra unit or two. The lot is a surprising 11,500 sqft, which allows for a ton of units by right.

Two duplexes coming

In the northeastern section of Point Breeze, two long vacant lots should soon get redeveloped. A couple of years ago, we told you about plans for two triplexes on the 1100 block of S. 15th St. which received pushback from some folks in the neighborhood who didn't want to see the additional density. We were happy about the project, however, because it was replacing two blighted and vacant homes. Those buildings are now finished and rented out.

Two newer triplexes

A few doors down though, at 1154 and 1156 S. 15th St., the block has suffered with two vacant lots for many years. The northern lot has some nice size to it, and the southern lot is even larger, stretching all the way to Hicks Street. Developers purchased the larger lot late last year, and closed on the smaller one in January. They purchased the latter from the City through the Philly Land Works site, proving that every now and then the City does indeed sell off its lots. Just not quite frequently enough for our liking.

A long dormant block is making a comeback

For many years, the 1600 block of Ogden Street was a vast vacant wasteland. A number of City-owned lots sprinkled among privately owned lots combined with an a stunted Ridge Avenue made developing the block a challenge to say the least. And so it sat.

But as Francisville has seen considerable investment in recent years, with Ridge Avenue slowly pulling itself up, and with some City agencies selling off lots on this block to developers, we've started to see some real progress. Last year, a string of three duplexes sprouted on the block's north side. Passing by the other day, we spied formwork for the foundation for a fourth duplex. This is coming from the same developer that built the others.

North side of the 1600 block

The vacancy on the south side of this block was only broken recently when a four-story, two-sided building started construction. That building will soon be joined by two more duplexes on which work just began. It's different developers than the duplexes on the north side, so expect the buildings to look a little different.

Another home under construction on the 1900 block

Back in April, we checked in on the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Titan Street, noting three new homes under construction on the 2000 block and two more on the 1900 block. Since our last visit, there's been plenty of progress, as one would hope.

Three new homes on the 2000 block

In recent weeks, the new home at the corner and 2004 Titan St. have both sold. 2002 Titan St. is still on the market, at a list price of $355K. Considering the fact that this corner was a giant vacant lot for many years, the transformation is pretty unbelievable.

In the past

Looking over to the 1900 block, different changes are afoot. 1944 Titan St., which replaced a long-vacant home one off the corner, has been finished and is now under agreement at a list price of around $350K. At the corner is a big home that went up last year in the place of another vacant lot.

Under agreement on the 1900 block near the corner

A few doors down, at 1930 Titan St., the same developers that rehabbed 1944 Titan St. are doing more of the same. Unlike the home near the corner, 1930 Titan St. has a third floor setback, which will hopefully only have a minimal impact on the upstairs floorplan.

Will the new building blend in?

If you've even found yourself on the 1600 block of Christian Street, especially at night, you've surely noticed 1631, 1635, and 1637 Christian St., opulent visions of redevelopment in a neighborhood that's had more than its fair share. The fact that this section of the block was pretty much bombed out as recently as fifteen years ago makes the homes stand out all the more as dramatic examples of a neighborhood's transformation.


We would have to imagine it's been sticking in the craws of the folks who live in these homes as well as anyone else who lives nearby that 1627 Christian St. has remained blighted despite the renovation and construction in the neighborhood. The contrast is pretty stark when you look at it.

Last blight on the block

But there's good news indeed for the people who live on this block; the blighted building is finally getting redeveloped. A demolition notice has appeared on the property, and it should soon be coming down. According to a reader who tipped us off about it, in its place will rise a new building with three condo units. According to public record, the same developers who hilariously purchased the building for $13,700 from the Redevelopment Authority back in 2010 still owns it, but we wouldn't be shocked if they flipped it to somebody else.

Ten homes will replace it

A couple of months ago, we told you about a proposal to demolish the Color Reflections warehouse at 413 Green St. and replace it with ten new homes. After the developer presented the project to the NLNA in early July, the community group's zoning committee requested that the project eliminate one of the units. Much to nobody's surprise, this was a no-go with the developer. At the following zoning meeting, the developer must have either whispered sweet nothings into the ears of the committee members or simply agreed to disagree, as the project was recently approved by the ZBA with ten homes as originally proposed.

Warehouse that's going

Designed by KJO Architecture, the project will include three standard homes on Green Street and a fourth home that's a carriage house, floating above a drive-aisle. That drive-aisle will provide parking access not only for the four units on Green Street, but also for five of the six units planned for Wallace Street. The sixth Wallace Street home (which wasn't eliminated) will have a front-loading garage. Here, maybe the site plan will make things clearer:

Project site plan. Green St. on the right.

If examining detailed architectural drawings isn't your thing, perhaps you'd prefer to see project renderings. Good thing we have some of those!