We were passing through South Kensington the other day and figured we'd update you on a pair of residential projects moving forward near 6th & Jefferson. First, let's look at the project that started first, on the southwest corner of the intersection. We first told you about this five-home project a little less than a year ago, when the property was sitting vacant, as it had for at least a decade.
Southwest corner of 6th & Jefferson
That's not an empty lot anymore. We were initially alerted to this project by a sign that had been posted to the property, advertising the upcoming construction. That sign indicated that these homes would be priced starting at $325K. These are three bedroom, three bathroom homes with parking which would sell for over $500K just a few blocks to the south or a few blocks to the east, so this sounded like a deal that was too good to be true. Many buyers agreed, it seems, as all of the homes in this project are now under agreement at a price of $350K. With development picking up in this part of the neighborhood, the homes still seem underpriced at that number.
The 1000 block of Fairmount Avenue doesn't exactly jump off the page as an attractive location for development. Railroad tracks run a block and a half to the east, and a few warehouses sit between 10th Street and the tracks. And the north side of the block is the southern side of the Richard Allen Homes, a PHA development that runs all the way to Girard Avenue. The south side of the block is dominated by vacant land, with a mere four residential buildings in the middle of the block breaking up the chain of vacancy.
Richard Allen Homes at 10th & Fairmount
Despite these facts on the ground, Carmel Developments built a residential building on this block a few years ago. The project, which they called Fairmount Abode, included half a dozen condo units and underground parking and sold out relatively quickly. One of the units went on the market for the second time about a year ago, trading at $300K. This was a $70K premium over what was paid in 2013, a good indication that this block isn't immune to the positive momentum we're seeing in other neighborhoods around Center City.
Fairmount Abode is on the right
Despite the success of the Fairmount Abode project, we haven't had a reason to come back to this block since it was finished. Until today, that is. A reader gave us the heads up about a new hole in the ground, so we naturally went to check it out.
It was just a few months ago that we happened upon some new construction at 1638 and 1640 N. 2nd St. after a less than successful visit to the nearby Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse. At the time, we told you that developers were filling in a pair of large vacant lots with four new mixed-use buildings, with a pair on 2nd Street and two more on Philip Street. The mixed-use was happening by right, and made some degree of sense on 2nd Street as it's something of a mixed-use corridor. But we were confused as to how retail would work on residential Philip Street.
New buildings on Philip Street
As some months have rolled by, the exterior construction on the buildings has proceeded pretty much as you would expect. But plans for the interiors are changing, per some relatively new zoning notices. The developers are looking to change the mixed-use buildings to triplexes, both on 2nd Street and Philip Street. This certainly makes sense to us, and we wonder whether this was the plan all along. If this was indeed the plan all along, it's an example of a method we've cited numerous times in neighborhoods heavy on student housing. This might be an even easier zoning lift, as the properties had been zoned CMX-2 but were rezoned to residential at some point since the permits were pulled.
The 1700 block of Seybert Street isn't one of Philadelphia's finest, and in the snow it somehow looks extra bleak. According to public record, there are 56 parcels on this block, and 37 of them are sitting vacant. If you happen to visit, you'll agree that this seems pretty accurate.
Looking west on the block
But the photo above also gives you a sense that change is in the air on this block. You can see a truck parked on the northern sidewalk that's loaded up with formwork, and in the distance you can see a three story home that looks like it's a relatively new addition.
New formwork, new home on the south side
The new home is the work of V2 Properties, a developer that's seemingly doing projects like this in every neighborhood around town these days. They're also responsible for the new foundation in the foreground and in addition, they own 1703 Seybert St., where it's safe to assume a new home will soon appear. If history is any indication, these homes will all be listed for sale at market rate prices.
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.
The street simply called "Rittenhouse Square" is, as you'd expect, one of the more exclusive in town, running along the south side of the park of the same name. The street extends a block to the east, stretching to 17th Street, and a couple blocks to the west as well, running to 21st Street, curiously disappearing for a block, and extending again from 22nd to 23rd Street. In the interest of reducing confusion in the universe, we'd probably advocate for changing the name of the street, but we'd think that the people who live on Rittenhouse Sq. probably like the name of their street, thank you very much. With such a name, you'd think that these blocks would be well established and wouldn't see a whole lot of development activity. And yet we've been pulled to the 2000 block of Rittenhouse Sq. a couple times over the years, and now we find ourselves back on this ritzy block.
2012-14 Rittenhouse Sq., in the past
Until a few months ago, 2012-14 Rittenhouse Sq. was home to a pair of two-story homes from the early 1950s which were very well located but didn't have much else going for them. A little over a year ago, the two 2-story homes were listed for sale together, described as fixer-uppers that could either be renovated or demolished and replaced. The developer that ultimately bought them has opted for the latter. We passed by the property last week and found a relatively new hole in the ground.
It looks like the Spring Garden neighborhood could soon get a row of new homes, and we'd be willing wager that these homes will be on the shmancy side. For well over a decade, 1600 and 1602 Wallace St. have been sitting vacant, despite the fact that this is one of the more desirable neighborhoods ringing Center City. An upcoming zoning hearing could change things in a hurry for this property.
View of the property
According to the zoning notices posted on a chain link fence, developers are planning to subdivide the properties into four parcels and build four new homes which we believe would front 16th Street. Each home will be wider and shallower than the typical home, which will probably result floor plates that are relatively standard in size. The zoning application indicates that the homes will rise four stories and have front loading garages, telling us that the homes will have kitchens and living areas on the 2nd floor, with bedrooms on the upper floors.
The property at 2052 Blair St. has been sitting blighted and vacant for the last couple years, distracting from the unfortunate vinyl siding that covers its facade. Recently though, a reader gave us a shout to let us know that the home has been demolished. If you wish you had seen it before its demise, you can certainly visit the block and look at the home still standing next door, and you'll get a good enough idea of what was here before.
In the past
Does this mean a new home is coming soon? Perhaps. Looking at public record, it appears that the property hasn't changed ownership since 2012. But that owner could certainly redevelop the property! However, we don't see any permits on the property aside from those relating to the demolition, so we don't see anything on the immediate horizon. It's even possible that the property was demoed by the City, as that sort of thing happens every now and then for a property with such a laundry list of violations.
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.
Developers are looking to redevelop a flag lot in Fishtown, off of E. Montgomery Avenue. Perhaps you're wondering, what's a flag lot? Simple, it's a lot that looks like a flag. More specifically, it's a lot that has only a small sliver of street frontage, with the majority of the lot sitting further back from the street, often behind buildings. Here, allow us to show you what we mean:
Looks like a flag indeed
This is the very lot in question, 1323R E. Montgomery Ave., a property you wouldn't necessarily know exists if you walk by on E. Montgomery Avenue.
The view on E. Montgomery Ave.
Despite its hidden nature, this property is quite large, boasting over 10K sqft of space which is pretty easily accessible via Wilt Street. A few months ago, developers came to an FNA zoning meeting with a plan for two apartment buildings on this parcel, with four units in one of the buildings and eight units in the second building. That project would have also included a dozen parking spots. But it seems the community wasn't into the concept.