We last visited the corner of Mascher & Oxford a little over a month ago, and were a little confused about a zoning notice posted on a vacant lot at the corner advertising a plan for eight new homes. This seemed curious, since the developers had subdivided part of the property into ten lots last summer, so we didn't know whether this application was a change to the previous plan or whether it meant that even more homes would be rising here. Passing by the property just the other day, we spied a sign at the corner which directed us to a website for the project that provided some helpful information.
Though many surrounding blocks have improved dramatically over the last several years, the 2000 block of Reed Street has remained stubbornly crappy. Part of that may have to do with the fact that there's a funeral home at the corner of 20th & Reed. But we'd say it's got more to do with the the fact that there have been several long vacant properties on the south side of the block and the north side of the block has historically been a mix of vacant land and a big ugly warehouse. But times are changing for this block.
Looking west on the 2000 block of Reed
Closer look at two new homes
At 2036 and 2040 Reed St., developers are building a pair of new townhomes. These lots have been sitting empty for at least a decade, so it's encouraging to see that they are finally filling in. Also notable, the blighted home next door was purchased by another developer back in 2014, so there's a good chance it will soon get redeveloped as well. As for the still vacant lot at 2038 Reed St., it's owned by a City agency and could continue to sit empty for years to come. Or it could change hands tomorrow, for affordable or market rate housing. One thing is almost certain, if someone does buy it, they will almost definitely not pay full price, as we've seen time and time again in this neighborhood.
Inspired by a reader tip, we took a trip up to the beautiful riverside neighborhood of East Falls the other week. 3460 Midvale Ave. was once the property of Redeemer Lutheran Church, which was closed after a sad and politically messy property rights battle between the congregation and the Lutheran Synod around 2008-2012. It ended with the Synod winning and the property being sold to developers. At the time, East Falls Local provided extensive coverage of the neighborhood dispute and also posted a good number of pictures of the interior of the church. In 2015, the new owners, HOW Properties, presented residential redevelopment plans for the building and the rest of the property which fronts W. Penn Street. Under the plan, the church is being repurposed as a 9 unit apartment building and 5 townhouses are getting built along W. Penn Street. The zoning variances that were requested for the development were eventually granted and the property has been under construction ever since.
The old church building
The actual church building looks very much as it did when it was still a church. The W. Penn Street side of the property originally had a one story school building and a small playground. Here's what it used to look like back in 2014:
Meandering through the River Wards the other day, we spied a vacant building at 2530 E. Hagert St. that we had never noticed before, even though it's been in poor condition for several years. Something about the property gave us the feeling that developers already had this property in the crosshairs, and we were on the money in that regard. The property traded about a year ago, selling for $95K, and we have to think it won't be long until the owners tear down the blighted building and construct a new single-family home here.
Tasked with purchasing some ephemera for a New Years Eve party, we recently found our way to Party City, located in the Whitman Shopping Center at 3rd & Oregon. Party hats and plastic champagne flutes in hand, we made our way back toward Center City, enjoying the South Philly experience of driving north on 2nd Street for a spell. After just a block though, we were stopped dead in our tracks by the sight of some new construction on the 2500 block of S. 2nd Street. This is simply not an area where we would ever expect to find any development activity. And yet...
Three new homes
Two foundations next door
We couldn't tell you why this unassuming block had a large stretch of empty lots for many years on its western side. But if we turn back the clock to 2007, we see that the vacancy dates back at least a decade.
We should have guessed the the developer was the Riverwards Group, as they've been behind just about every major project in this neighborhood of late through their BMK Homes arm. They're calling the project Avenue 30, probably because it's on Lehigh Avenue and it will involve 30 homes. The project will include five different floor plans, with sizes ranging from 1,640-2,200 sqft, and as we said, some units will have one-car parking while others will have space for two cars. The site plan shows a surprising number of homes with a square shape, an approach we don't often see developers take when they aren't faced with oddly shaped lots. Still, it seems to work pretty well in this case. Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the project is that ingress and egress will happen on Amber and Collins Streets underneath carriage house units, and not from Lehigh Avenue. This is the case even though the shared drive-aisle is oriented toward Lehigh. Though this is perhaps a little counterintuitive, it will surely increase traffic safety as it relates to this development.
The Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse is located at the corner of 2nd & Cecil B. Moore and holds biweekly furniture sales, offering a collection of "professionally restored American Mid-Century, and Scandinavian furniture" in a spacious and unheated warehouse. We've been meaning to check it out for quite some time and finally made it over there this weekend. The place is legit, and if money and space were no object we would have bought up half the stock. Alas, both money and space are indeed objects and we left emptyhanded. Around the corner though, we spied some new construction at 1638 and 1640 N. 2nd St., so the trip wasn't for naught. These properties were, until quite recently, sitting vacant.
In the past
As of this weekend, a pair of four-story buildings had appeared here.
Thanks to our unquenchable thirst for Rival Bros. coffee, we often find ourselves walking on the 2300 block of Naudain Street on our way over to the cafe. This walk has featured non-stop construction on the south side of this block for nearly two years which in a vacuum is quite unexpected given the settled nature of the surrounding neighborhood. But if you recall, a gas explosion in the spring of 2014 resulted in the demolition of three homes and thankfully no fatalities.
A few years ago before the explosion
We wrote about the plans to rebuild the first of those three homes almost two years ago, as the owners were going through the permitting process. 2308A Naudain St. was zoned for single family use, but had functioned as a duplex for many years. As such, the ZBA gave their blessing to this use for the rebuilt building. Perhaps because the building is part of a condo development, the owners opted to recreate the white stucco exterior of the demolished building rather than opting for something more contemporary (or more traditional). They did, however, opt for a fourth story and we honestly cannot blame them even a little bit.
But just because some projects have happened on this block over the years doesn't mean there isn't room for more. 1723-29 N. Howard St. was sitting vacant for a long time, languishing as one of thousands of City owned parcels in town. We don't quite know how it happened, but developers were able to purchase this roughly 8,000 sqft parcel earlier this year for a mere $150K. Once again proving that the City should not be in the real estate business, this street-to-street property would have sold for at least four or five times that price on the open market. Oh well, as you're well aware the City's coffers are bursting so this is no big whoop at all.
We promise, we'll eventually stop being surprised about the continual southern shifting of the development border in Point Breeze. But that day is not today, folks. Last spring, we visited the 1900 block of Fernon Street and noted that this street, formerly overrun by vacancy, had six homes under construction. Over the summer, we visited the 2000 block of Fernon, and discussed a batch of new homes under construction and a few rehabs to boot. We should not be shocked that similar things are happening on the 1800 block, and yet...