residential development

For the better, we'd thinkas

If we're being honest, we'll admit that the 1400 block of N. 28th Street isn't one of the best in Philadelphia. The west side of the block is actually in pretty good shape, with a row of mostly intact, mostly occupied two story homes. The east side is a bit of a different story though, with a smattering of three story homes mixed in with a bunch of vacant land. But things are changing quickly on this block, with two fistfulls (fists full?) of homes on the immediate horizon.

Current view on the east side

Most of the new construction on this block is coming from Argo Property Group, a developer that we've covered previously in Brewerytown. Recently, we covered their project on the 1200 block of N. 27th Street, where they're currently building a duplex, a triplex, and a pair of six unit buildings. On 28th Street, they're going in a different direction, opting for nine single family homes on non-contiguous lots. They're calling the project Brewers Mill Townhomes, and they've already started construction on the first few homes. 

On Callowhill Street, Not Columbus Blvd.

Over the weekend, we noticed a sign posted at the corner of Columbus Blvd. and Callowhill St., advertising a townhome project called Callowhill Court. And as we told you yesterday, we were concerned about this sign because we thought that it meant curtains for the Renaissance Plaza project, and we prepared ourselves for a sea of townhomes on the Delaware waterfront. After a quick conversation with one of the realtors listed on the sign though, we realized that the sign actually refers to a project happening at 10 Callowhill St., a property just around the corner. A one story building stood there until a few months ago.

View from a few months ago

Current view

Developers bought this 4,800 sqft parcel last summer and are now planning to build four homes on this property. And looking at the listings that went up recently, we see that these are gonna be some pretty impressive homes. The largest homes will clock in at 4,800 sqft, with 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, 2 half bathrooms, and 2 car parking. List price is $1.7M. A second home is listed for a mere $1.35M and will only have 3,600 sqft of living space and a 1-car garage. Check out these renderings to get an idea of what we can expect to see here.

Sweet new home on Emerald Street makes us jealous

Perhaps you've wondered why residential projects tend to look so similar to each other from year to year and neighborhood to neighborhood. Maybe you think it's laziness from the small pool of architects in town. Or perhaps you place it at the feet of the developers, who are just trying to make a few extra bucks. Both of those reasons are plausible, but we'd suggest that the market also plays a role here. Many buyers are looking for something that resembles another property that they've seen and liked, and some will push back against new and different designs. That disincentivizes many developers from pushing the envelope, and is another reason why we see so many new homes that look almost identical around town. On the 1000 block of S. Dorrance St. though, it's a little on the nose.

1000 block of S. Dorrance St.

Thankfully, that design fell out of favor about half a decade ago and we hardly see any new construction with stucco bays anymore. Stucco has been replaced by cement board and metal panels on bay windows, which you would probably agree is a step in the right direction. A fine example of this can be found at 2337 Emerald St., a new home that recently sold for $365K.

Across the street, the umbrella factory renovation continues

We've been at this awhile, and we sometimes find ourselves considering some material for a potential post and spending a few minutes trying to remember whether we already covered it at some point. Such was the case with a property at the southeast corner of 5th & Master, where we recently spied a banner promoting an upcoming project. We had a nagging feeling that we'd written about this property before, but we snapped the photos anyway, just in case.

Current view at 5th & Master

After digging through the archives, we realized that we have indeed covered this property in the past. A little over a year ago, we told you that developers were planning to demolish the existing structures here and replace them with a mixed-use project with 31 apartments, retail space, and a dozen parking spots. We expressed some skepticism about the plan, as the 6,700 sqft parcel didn't seem to have enough size to accommodate both the desired number of parking spaces along with a retail space with any sort of worthwhile size. Perhaps the developers saw things the same way, or maybe they didn't see a path at the ZBA, because they withdrew their proposal last summer.

Their new plan is to build seven homes with parking here, a plan that was approved by the ZBA last fall. That aforementioned banner on the property gives us an idea of what's to come, and we're thinking these will be some big and fancy homes. Also per the banner, the developers are calling the project North Point, which clearly makes the project 22% fancier.

Rumor has it the church will be torn down

It's true that Philadelphia boasts numerous edifices that outshine the former New Macedonia Church at 875 Corinthian Ave., but that doesn't mean we won't be sad to see it go. About half a year ago, we told you that developers had purchased this building that's up the block from Eastern State Penitentiary and down the block from Girard College, and we were hopeful that adaptive reuse would be in store. We were realistic in forecasting the situation though, recognizing that the building was not designated historic and that demolition was the likely outcome.

The church

View from the south

Sure, a condo play would have been a nice touch, and we've seen time and again that buyers in Francisville have a huge appetite for condo units. But demolition and construction of townhomes were always going to be the most profitable approach, and according to a reader, that's exactly what's in store for this property. We don't see any permits thus far, so we'll classify this as a rumor at the moment, but it would come as no surprise to get confirmation that this is indeed the plan.

More construction could be on the way

When we were checking in on multiple projects on 27th Street last week, we also noticed some new framing underway around the corner on the 2700 blocks of W. Stiles and W. Cabot Streets. We've visited these blocks before, notably in the fall of 2015 when we described a plan to subdivide the street to street property at 2712 W. Stiles St. and build a new duplex on Stiles and a new duplex on Cabot. That proposal was denied at the ZBA for reasons we do not understand, but we were hopeful that the developers would appeal or come back with a different idea for the property. Sadly, the two story building on Stiles and the empty lot on Cabot are sitting as they were back then, and we don't see any new permits on the property.

But what about that new framing we mentioned? A reasonable question indeed. The new framing is happening to the west of the aforementioned property, as you can see in these photos:

Block has really turned the corner

Desiring a return visit to Pizza Dads, we trekked to Brewerytown with a purpose this past weekend. After destroying a slice, we figured it would be responsible to try to walk off some of the calories and decided to check in on some development projects in the neighborhood. We were impressed when we got to the 1200 block of N. 27th Street, noting the significant progress since our last visit in October. This block is anchored by North Abbey at the corner of 27th & Girard, an attractive former church that was converted into apartments a couple years ago. Soon after, the same developers built a duplex next door, which was a sign of things to come.

Maybe this time something will happen

A couple years after a proposal stalled out at 1217 E. Columbia Ave., developers are giving it another shot. Currently, this address is home to a warehouse that's a throwback to a more industrial time in the neighborhood. But looking around the area today, the building doesn't much fit in with its surroundings.

One off from the corner

In the summer of 2015, developers came to the community with a plan to demolish the building and replace it with an eight unit apartment building that would have included six parking spots. But the neighborhood pushed back because the property is zoned for single family homes. The parcel could be legally subdivided and a pair of homes could be constructed by right, but the subdivided lots would be oversized and the homes would have hilariously large back yards. At the time, the head of the FNA zoning committee indicated that the neighbors preferred homes over apartments because homes would fit better into "the character of the area."

We've never been there, amazingly

Every now and then, we find ourselves on a block for the first time. And that's what happened today after we got a tip about some ongoing demolition on the 2500 block of Alter Street. This block is accessed from 26th Street but dead ends before it gets to 25th Street, blocked by the train ramp to the 25th Street viaduct. Until recently, there were half a dozen homes on this block. With the demolition that's now approaching completion, it's down to five homes.

Looking east on Alter Street

Looking at the demo from the west

Developers purchased 2532-38 Alter St. last year, and have consolidated the six parcels into four lots. Once they're done tearing down the one building that was on their property, they'll commence construction on a quartet of duplexes. This will probably be the first new construction on this block in a hundred years.

We've seen several projects come down the pike in Grays Ferry in the last few years, so this one comes as no surprise. We've seen other projects on both sides of the viaduct and wondered whether proximity to the tracks might be a detriment, but at least this project will have a buffer. Oh, and it has a nicely tended community garden across the street as well.

Next to larger Spring Arts Point homes

Looking over the calendar for upcoming ZBA hearings, we spied a little project immediately next door to another project we recently covered. It was just a few days ago that we showed you the newest phase of Spring Arts Point, six homes now gettting framed out at the corner of 11th & Wallace. Ah, had we only known then what we know now, we would have saved ourselves the trip that was needed to take these photos.

Spring Arts Point homes to the left, vacant land to the right

Closer look

A little over a year ago, a developer purchased 1102-1104 North St., along with a trio of properties nearby on the 1000 block of Lemon Street. The price was a whopping $275K, which seems pretty reasonable when you consider the prices we're seeing for Spring Arts Point homes but seems a little crazy when you consider all of these lots are hilarious undersized. You can't quite tell from the photos, but 1102 North St. is only 12.6' wide, while 1104 North St. is a mere 12' wide. The photos present a bit of an illusion as they include a third lot, owned by the City, which makes the properties in question appear much larger.