New Construction

Join other new homes on the block

Yesterday, we were on our way back to town from King of Prussia and cut through Manayunk due to traffic on I76. With Main Street closed thanks to the Streat Food Festival, we got detoured through the neighborhood and fortuitously stumbled upon a project where Sharp Street hits Dawson Street, right near Ridge Avenue. Just a few years ago, the 3700 block of Sharp Street was rather underdeveloped, with trees on one side and cars parked along a vacant strip of land on the other.

In the past
An old view of the block

Oh how the block has changed thanks to one developer. A couple of years ago, Rock Construction Development bought an old building that had been used for parking, and built five homes in its place. Now, they're in the process of building some additional homes next door, filling in the entire side of the block.

And phase one is finished

It's been a long road for Renewbold, but it seems that the journey is finally approaching its end. It was all the way back in February of 2011 that we first told you about this project from LPMG, the guys behind American Sardine Bar and South Philly Tap Room. About a year later, the project, with sixteen homes, two condos and a retail space at 16th & Moore got approval from the ZBA. In October of 2013, the first phase of the project broke ground, with 6 two-story homes and 2 three-story homes fronting Bancroft Street. Those homes now appear to be finished and are sold out. Take a look-see.

Shells and vacant lots dropping like flies

A couple days ago, after we enjoyed a coffee at One Shot and after we noticed the finished construction next door which is now home to DnA Salon, we headed south down American Street and spied a little more construction activity. At 1004 N. American St., a kind of unfortunate addition has appeared, with a slightly different color brick on the third floor facade giving it away. At 1006 N. American St., there's a new home that's replaced a vacant lot that's on the skinny side.

Framing well underway

Months ago, we told you about plans for seventeen new homes on the 800 blocks of Lawrence and Orkney Streets in Northern Liberties. Back then, the warehouse that was once home to Marcis Wire Works had just been demolished at 812-32 N. Lawrence St., and a snow covered pile of rubble foretold better things. If you visit the site today, however, the rubble is as long gone as the snow. Instead, nine homes fronting Orkney Street have been framed out.

Construction moving along. Image from the company that did the project website.

The homes will be large and fancy, according to the project website (like it would say otherwise!). Look for 2,600 to 3,000 sqft of living space with home widths between nineteen and twenty-one feet. Each home will also have rear-access, two-car parking, accessed via a curb cut on Lawrence Street. No idea how that will work when the Lawrence Street homes get built as the second phase of the project, but it won't be an issue long-term. Look for the first run of homes to finish in the spring. Check out these renderings, which are a different look than the renderings we showed by before.

Replaces awful garage

It seems like the area near One Shot Cafe has been a major construction zone forever. The Stables project, which will eventually include dozens of new construction homes, started a couple of years ago and recently came back to life in a big way after a lengthy lull. The building immediately to the north, 1109 N. American St., was previously an ugly garage until it went under construction last year.

In the past

Remember, we told you that it would be converted into a salon and an apartment, though we didn't know what it look like. Passing by recently, we noticed it was finished. Now we know what it looks like and we must say the warehousey look is a massive improvement.

Gosh it's taken awhile

Fifteen years ago, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood was home to over a thousand vacant properties. In the years since, all but a small handful have been renovated by developers or simply demolished and replaced by new construction. It was a little less than a year ago that we brought one of the few vacant properties in the neighborhood to your attention, the long blighted 923 S. 23rd St.

Last year

Last October, we shared the good news that developers had purchased the property, which had been cited (appropriately) with Doors & Windows violations, and there were plans to demolish what was left of the building and replace it with a duplex. This surely came as fabulous news to near neighbors who have had to deal with a backless house on their block for many years. The previous owners, in a failed renovation project, tore down the back wall and stopped work soon after. But despite the apparent efforts from the new owners to start work on the property, nothing seemed to be happening. Until recently.

Current shot

In July, the owners finally got their demolition permits to tear down this eyesore. And that's just what they did, making the front of the property match the back. Look for construction to get going soon on a project that we would still wager will include condos. Not that rentals versus condos means much to the neighbors- we just imagine they're happy to finally see a positive change at this property. It's about time.

Squeezed in but looking spacious

In Fishtown, developers are stuffing in new houses wherever they can. As in East Kensington, they're building homes on super skinny lots, unexpectedly small lots, and on little streets. Take, for example, the 1400 block of Emerick St., which qualifies as little more than an alley that leads to Miller Street. Still, Brickstone Group LLC is building three houses at 1410-14 Emerick St., former vacant lots. These guys are also, by the way, involved in a project on Coral Street that we've covered.

In the past
Current view from Belgrade St.
Closer look

The developers purchased the lots a little less than a year ago, and are now offering three homes for sale for a range of prices. The largest, with 2,600 sqft of space, 4 bedrooms, and 3.5 bathrooms, is listed for $469K. A skinnier version, with 1,750 sqft inside, 3 bedrooms, and 3.5 bathrooms, is listed for $384K. With high performance closed cell insulation, at least the energy bills should be extremely reasonable for whoever ends up buying these homes.

Refining the vision

We're generally peeved about large vacant lots in prominent locations. Broad & Washington (two lots!) drives us nuts. We're annoyed about the large triangular lot at 19th & Wylie in Francisville. And the vacant lot at 13th & South has raised our ire for years.

The lot

But ah, when those lots get developed does it ever feel good. That's why we were so excited to share the news earlier this year that new owners, PRDC Properties, had stepped in with plans to finally redevelop the parcel. We shared a rendering from Interface Studio back in June, but the visuals have changed some. So here we go.

New construction condos in Old City

Over the last several months, a new four-story building has appeared on the 100 block of Race Street. This quadplex, which has been dubbed Race Street Square, is replacing a surface parking lot at 138 Race St. that was previously associated with the building next door. Since cars had to go up on the sidewalk to access said parking lot, the new building certainly seems like a safer alternative.

The new building

It looks like three of the four condo units are still on the market, with prices ranging from $369K for a 1 bed/1.5 bath unit to $439K for a 2 bed/3 bath unit. And you can't argue with the location. Just down the street, past the Race Street Connector, is the wonderful Race Street Pier. And the surrounding blocks have all the Old City goodness with galleries, bars, restaurants, and so forth. And it's far enough away from the weekend rigamarole south of Market Street that the block is pretty quiet, outside of bridge and Patco traffic across the street. Our only regret on this project is that we wish they would have gone for something a little more creative architecturally, given then rich history of the area.

Homes get a facelift

The other week, we passed by Carpenter Square on 17th Street just south of Carpenter, and saw some work happening that piqued our interest. This project, in case you don't remember, has meant the construction of eleven new homes on a long vacant lot. A second phase, with a mixed-use building and a courtyard at the corner, is currently under construction. In a neighborhood for which an unattractive architectural style is named, the handsome look of this project has been a welcome break from recent history.

The homes in the past
Mixed-use phase under construction

The construction that caught our eye a few weeks back was not work on the corner, but on the homes that were finished earlier this year. It looked like the facades were being replaced. So we reached out to the developers to get the scoop.