We were meandering through the neighborhood a couple weekends ago and happened upon an 'Open House' sign at the corner of 18th & Carpenter. The sign pointed us toward 1715 Carpenter St., a building we've wondered about for many years.
Home for sale
This home, listed for sale for $850K, certainly doesn't look like any other homes in the area. We always thought it was built from the ground up, designed by a creative architect that was looking to make a statement. It turns out it's an adaptive reuse of a former warehouse, redeveloped about a decade ago when there were only warehouses on the north side of the 1700 block of Carpenter. Since it's a converted warehouse, the interior lays out differently than a standard home, with one bedroom on each floor. The photos in the listing don't really do it justice, but you can get a good look around at one of the open houses taking place this weekend.
A reader reached out recently and gave us the heads up about some construction that recently got underway on N. College Avenue, less than a block off of Ridge. Even though this reader has a wonderful Instagram account called Genbrewerytown that follows development around Brewerytown, we were in the area today and were in the mood for Rybrew anyway, so we snagged some of our own photos.
With numerous projects popping up on the 1400 block of Germantown Avenue over the last few years, the large property at 1413-27 Germantown Ave. represented one of the more tantalizing development opportunities in South Kensington. So it was with some intrigue that we brought the property to your attention about a year ago, noting that it was listed for sale for $3.9M and wondering just how much someone would actually be willing to pay for it. We still don't know the answer to that question, since it still hasn't officially sold just yet- but it's been under contract for many months and we've now heard about two very different development plans for the property.
Recently, another business joined the fray, as Booker's Restaurant opened its doors on the north side of the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue. Restaurateur Saba Tedla, owner of Aksum Cafe on the 4600 block, had been planning a restaurant called Babylon Bistro at 5021-23 Baltimore Ave. several years ago, but somehow the business morphed into Booker's along the way. Now it's a hundred seat bar-restaurant that also has live music. We'll properly check it out next time we're in the area during their business hours, but the menu looks pretty solid. And not for nothing, but the buildings are looking much better than they did a few years back.
A reader tipped us off recently that they noticed some demolition activity on the south side of the 1600 block of Poplar Street, but it seems that the demo contractors moved pretty quickly and were mostly finished their work by the time we were able to pay a visit. In the past, there was a rather wide building standing at 1624 Poplar St. which we imagine was at one point affiliated with the adjacent Church of the Living God. The cross above the door seems like a pretty good indication, at least.
In the past
The property is quite large, measuring roughly 9,000 sqft in total. With multi-family zoning, it represents an easy opportunity to build condos or rental apartments by right, and that's exactly what's happening. The developers have a plan to subdivide the parcel into five lots and are planning to build a quartet of quadplexes, leaving one of the lots vacant for the time being. We confess, we have no idea why they're keeping the westernmost lot vacant, we'd think it would make sense to develop that one too. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the last lot is directly next door to a building that dates back over 150 years. Maybe the developers are worried about underpinning?
We've never been to Chima, but we've heard good things from friends that are fond of the unlimited meat on a stick experience. Soon though, the Brazilian steakhouse could disappear from its longtime home at the Kennedy House, at the corner of 20th & JFK.
Looking east on JFK
A posting went up in December on Loopnet, advertising that the space was available for rent. At the time, Michael Klein chimed in, noting that the steakhouse was in negotiations with their landlord on a new lease, perhaps seeking a reduction in their monthly rent. If those negotiations were successful, Chima was planning a renovation effort inside, with improvements to the bar and VIP section on the docket. Klein also indicated that February could be a deadline for the negotiations, and last we checked we've got four days left in the month and the Loopnet posting remains intact. And while we're hopeful that the business and the landlord can cross the finish line, we have to consider the possibility that this space will indeed turn over.
It seems those negotiations didn't go very well. Last month, Alterra received a conditional zoning permit to demolish the building and replace it with a mixed-use building with 65 apartments over 5 stories, ground-floor retail, and 43 underground parking spots. This project appears to be by-right, gaining 15 feet of allowable height due to a "fresh market" bonus provided by the zoning code, and gaining additional density because of a green roof bonus. This information comes from a SHCA notice that went up today, which also indicates that the project is under appeal with a hearing date to be determined.
It was almost five years ago (man, we've been doing this awhile) that we told you about plans for three duplexes on the corner of 36th & Wharton in the Forgotten Bottom neighborhood. The properties at 3536-40 Wharton St. were sitting vacant, though neighborhood bar Tony D's had stood there until just a few years earlier. That building looked like three stories of garbage, so it's no shock it got torn down.
In the past
Earlier this week, we got word that construction had gotten started here. And we needed to see for ourselves, since we keep expecting to see development in Forgotten Bottom but have found ourselves perpetually disappointed by the slow progress in the neighborhood. And by slow progress, of course, we mean that there's been almost no construction here despite the proximity to West Philadelphia and the easy access to the Pennovation Works. But hey, when we zipped by the properties we did indeed see that there's some construction happening.
Student housing development has exploded in the West Philadelphia neighborhoods surrounding Penn and Drexel over the last several years, and it doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon. Already, the southern blocks of Mantua are littered with new apartment buildings, and we've covered a couple new projects coming to Haverford Avenue in the last couple months. Closer to Lancaster Avenue, we've seen countless projects on the blocks surrounding 40th & Baring, with more on the horizon. And just yesterday, we told you about a new building on the 4600 block of Baltimore Avenue with retail on the first floor and seven apartments above. If there's anything limiting the new construction of student housing in this area, it's a lack of available properties for developers. Enter the new frontier for student housing development, Southwest Philadelphia.
We're not talking Eastwick here, we mean the northernmost edges of Southwest. Already, we've seen some projects around 47th & Woodland, targeting students at University of the Sciences. And we've also seen the occasional project closer to Baltimore Avenue, like the duplex built over the summer at 50th & Pentridge. Speaking of Pentridge Street, when we passed it the other day we noticed that the 5000 block has experienced major changes of late.