residential development

Sold for more than we'd have expected

At the northeast corner of 7th & Morris, developers built a trio of new homes over the last year, replacing a surface parking lot. We told you about the project when construction was just getting started, and if you visit the intersection today you'll notice that the homes are finished. One odd architectural detail, the corner home has a nice sized bay with some hilariously small windows. We get it, the bathrooms have to go somewhere, but it seems like a missed opportunity to add natural light to the home with two frontages.

Beer distributor next door still doing its thing too

It was a little over a year ago that we told you that developers had purchased the long vacant lot at 617-21 Moore St. and redevelopment was on the horizon. We shared the details of the project, that it would include four homes on Moore Street with two of those homes interrupted by a drive-aisle, and five homes to the north on Pierce Street. We even included a shmancy 3D rendering, to give you an idea of what kind of project to expect.

Rendering from about a year ago

Checking in now, we see that the project is moving forward. Already, all of the homes have been framed out, with a little more progress on the Pierce Street side. We figured that some of the homes would be listed for sale by now, but it seems the developers are waiting until the homes are a little farther along before putting them on the market. It will be fascinating to see what kind of prices they're able to get for new construction homes with parking in this area, and how quickly they're able to line up buyers. We'll also keep an eye on how much of a price cut the developers must make to sell off the somewhat flawed carriage house units.

But not before a profitable flip

Every now and again, we pass along news of a sweet development opportunity and encourage anyone and everyone to consider taking advantage and making an investment. To give you a sense that we occasionally know what we're talking about, let's consider a recent example that worked out very well for a local real estate investor. It was a little over a year ago that we brought 1145 N. Delaware Ave. to your attention, noting that the 65K sqft waterfront parcel was going to auction with a minimum sale price of $3.6M. We shared some history, noting that a 168-unit project was sunk by the 2008 economic downturn, resulting in foreclosure in 2010. We also discussed the property's attractive location, right next to Penn Treaty Park, and its favorable CMX-3 zoning, which gives developers multiple by-right redevelopment options.

About a year ago

Aerial view of the property

In July of last year, developers purchased the property, paying $3.77M. Shortly after, they hired Abitare Design Studio to proceed with a zoning plan for 19 high-end 3,800 sqft townhomes, each with two car parking, elevators, etc. They even got a sweet rendering out of the deal.

And building a new home in the back

It was a pretty common thing, a few decades back, that developers were buying up huge old mansions in the Rittenhouse neighborhood and chopping them up into apartment units. In fact, some of the most affordable (and crappy) apartments in Center City can be found in those converted buildings. While this was a rather common practice back in the day, we don't see it very often anymore and the reason for this change is simple. Today, most of the old mansions that haven't been converted to apartments are well maintained and will likely remain single family for the foreseeable future. There are hardly any properties left where it makes financial sense to convert from single family to rentals or condos. But every now and then, we run into one.

Will fill long vacant lots

A reader reached out last week, wondering about some new zoning noticed they'd noticed on the east side of the 800 block of N. 15th Street in Francisville. These notices are posted on a pair of large vacant lots on either side of a building that went up in the last year or so.

Zoning notice on the east side of the 800 block

Newer building to the south

Another notice to the south is hidden behind a car

These are not your standard zoning notices. To wit, here's the content of one of them, at 825 N. 15th St.:


Property has been in limbo for a few years

We'd posit that the northeast corner of 26th & Pine is one of the most attractive locations in the city. It's in adorable Fitler Square, it's steps away from Schuylkill River Park, and so very close to the trail. Plus Jezabel's Cafe is right across the street and everyone loves empanadas. Oddly though, this corner has been in a state of development limbo for the last couple years. But with new ownership, it looks like things should finally be moving forward.

Turn back the clock a few years, and there were homes on this corner. These homes looked like they were built in the 1970s and certainly didn't provide a whole lot of architectural value. Like many homes built in this area in that era, they had garage fronts.

In the past

Somehow, a developer was able to buy all of the homes on this row, between Pine and Panama Streets. By 2015, they had demolished some of their buildings and had plans to build three new homes, but the plans weren't embraced by near neighbors. At the time, the developers indicated that they would try to find a way to move forward with a by-right development. But if you check in on this location today, you'll see that only one home was constructed and the rest of the property is sitting vacant. That home eventually did go to zoning, to legalize the curb cut to access its garage.

This time it's the New Light Beulah Baptist Church

We stopped dead in our tracks earlier today as we passed by the 17th & Bainbridge intersection and spotted a demolition notice on the front door of the New Light Beulah Baptist Church on the northwest corner. According to a publication from the Preservation Alliance, the building was originally constructed around 1870 as the First Church of the Covenanters Presbyterian Church, but we have to think the building looked very different back then. Clearly, the stucco on the facade is a relatively new feature for the building. Nevertheless, the edifice still provides the area with a dose or architectural diversity.

Seven new homes plus a ridiculous residential renovation

June is here and we have ice cream on the brain. Thankfully, Philadelphia is chock full of options, from old school Bassetts to new school Little Baby's and many others in between. Potts ice cream no longer exists as an independent company, having been absorbed by Bassetts, but its former factory at 2001 North St. remains as a tribute to sundaes gone by. Until this Art Moderne beauty was bought by MJL Properties a couple years ago, it had been sitting empty for quite some time.

Former factory at the corner

Back in the summer of 2015, we told the property would be redeveloped, and in reading the zoning application we indicated plans to renovate the corner building into four units and construct an additional four homes next door. If you visit the property today though, you'll see that's not exactly what happened.

And it's already under agreement

It's our job to ramble about the city, seeking out new and (sometimes) exciting development situations. Over the course of these ramblings, we not only find all sorts of projects, but we also regularly stumble upon unexpected features of the Philadelphia cityscape. For example, we were taking a walk through Queen Village over the holiday weekend and noticed the entrance to the little 700 block of S. Reese Street on the north side of the 500 block of Catharine Street. It caught our attention because the street surface looked porous, like the 800 block of Percy Street, which we covered last week.

Looking up Reese Street

Intrigued, we decided to take a walk up the street. And we quickly realized that there was a new home under construction on the block.

Replacing an overgrown lot

It's been a little while since we last checked in on the 3000 block of W. Stiles Street, as our last visit came over three years ago when we told you about a quartet of homes that were getting renovated. Like many others in Brewerytown, this block has been trending up in recent years, swapping blight for renovation. Despite this, a vacant lot has remained intact at 3018-22 W. Stiles St., seemingly ripe for new construction. It turns out, it's a little more complicated than it looks at first glance.

Building on Girard

The lots on Stiles Street are actually the overgrown rear yard of a six-unit building on Girard Avenue. In order for new homes to rise on Stiles Street, the owner of the property needs to subdivide it, a move that will require the approval of the ZBA. That's why representatives of the developer presented plans for three homes on Stiles Street to the Brewerytown-Sharswood Community Civic Association last week. The project got community support, which gives us a sense that the ZBA will likewise grant their blessing.