Francisville has grown by leaps and bounds in the last half decade, but some blocks in the neighborhood have remained in sad shape. Even Ridge Avenue, which has seen numerous new buildings sprout up in recent years, still has its share of blight and vacancy. A couple years ago, we drew your gaze to the 1400 block of Ogden Street which was notable in that it was almost entirely vacant, and wondered when someone would start redeveloping this block. We saw signs of life about a year ago, when developers had framed out a five-story building with three apartments and ground-floor parking at the southeast corner of 15th & Ogden. While the building has progressed considerably since then, it surprisingly doesn't appear to be totally done just yet.
SE corner of 15th & Ogden
But wait! What's that we see next door to the building!?! Could that be... construction?
Duplexes under construction next door
Holy smokes, that's exactly what it is. A developer picked up 1436 and 1440 Ogden St. back in 2012, but they took their sweet time with these properties. Now they're well on their way to building a pair of duplexes. Will the units be offered for sale? For rent? Who knows.
We first visted the 1500 block of Parrish Street over five years ago, when we shared the news that the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale planned to buy a warehouse at 1521 Parrish St. and make their home there, moving from a space near Drexel's campus. Part of that plan also included the purchase of what we believe was once a stable at 1533 Parrish St., the demolition of said building, and the creation of a surface parking lot. But alas, that plan never came to fruition, the Boys Choir instead moved to a space near Broad & Spring Garden, 1521 Parrish St. got converted into apartments, and 1533 Parrish St. never got torn down.
Turning back the clock a couple of decades, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood had well over a thousand vacant lots and buildings literally littering the area. The 2100 block of Carpenter Street was among the worst in the neighborhood. In 2004, at least thirty out of forty-seven properties on the block were sitting vacant. As we've covered before, the block has now totally filled in, with many of the new construction buildings featuring lovely stucco bay windows.
Looking west on Carpenter St.
Despite the dramatic improvement to the block, 2100 Carpenter St. has remained vacant and blighted as the years have rolled along. We mentioned the property a little over a year ago, mentioning that it had a ton of violations and had been owned by the same party since 2006. It also had some sweet graffiti. A neighbor gave us the heads up earlier today though, that a chain link fence recently appeared around the property which gives us a sense that renovation or demolition could be on the horizon. Sweet news indeed.
A reader tipped us off the other day about some impending construction on the 1200 block of N. 25th St. and we couldn't shake the feeling we'd visited the block before. But we couldn't quite figure out when or why. Looking at the Google Street View of the block from a couple years ago, we saw an image of the building that once stood at 1230-32 N. 25th St., and then the lightbulb went on.
In the past
We wrote about this building almost four years ago, shortly before its demolition. We were sorry to see the building come down as it had several unique architectural characteristics, most notable that it was too skinny to have a proper front door. As we said previously, we have to imagine that the entrance was at one point more attractive and elaborate than the shed pictured above, but it's now lost to history along with the rest of the building. The ten unit building that was constructed in its place doesn't exactly possess the same character as the old building, as you might expect.
It has come to our attention the a row of vacant lots in the Callowhill neighborhood could soon get developed, pretty much around the corner from the office/creative space reuse project we told you about the other day. Developers purchased 430-444 N. 9th St. earlier this year, paying half a million for the properties and further demonstrating the growing momentum in this neighborhood as the Rail Park moves closer toward becoming a reality. Redeveloping these parcels is really a no brainer today, though it would have been a little more questionable as recently as a few years ago.
Looking up 9th Street
According to the zoning application, the developers are looking to build six triplexes and one duplex here, with plans for a single parking spot for each building accessed via Percy Street. The project seems reasonable enough to us, but when it went to the ZBA last week it was continued to a future date. So it'll be a little while before we know for sure that this project will indeed happen.
We last checked in on the 1200 block of N. 27th St. a little over a year ago, noting that a new duplex was under construction at 1210 N. 27th St., next door to the North Abbey residential conversion at 27th & Girard. While the renovated church to the south was surely a help is selling the two condos for a combined $517K, the row of dilapidated and vacant homes to the north, mostly owned by PHA, likely didn't help. Ditto the large vacant lot on the eastern side of the block, where stone staircases are all that's left of several demolished homes.
Row of vacant parcels
Some fencing at the site would seem to indicate, however, that change is in the air. Over the course of the last several months, a developer has acquired half a dozen properties on this stretch and according to the permits they're now planning four triplexes and one double-wide building which we assume will contain six units. With the parcels zoned for multi-family use and extending back 100', this project is entirely by right. If our math is correct, that'll be 18 new units for this block. And we're only getting started.
Just because it's been a few weeks since we've been able to get ourselves to East Kensington doesn't mean there isn't a bunch of development news to report in the neighborhood. Take, for instance, a large vacant lot at 2565-77 Amber St., which sits near the intersection of Frankford Avenue and East Huntingdon Street. This parcel has been sitting vacant for many years, with the surrounding chain link fence slowly getting overrun by some aggressive flora.
View of the property
Developers bought this property back in 2013 and are now looking to build seven triplexes. They went to the ZBA earlier this week, but the case got continued. Has anyone been to the community meetings on this project that can provide some insight into how it was received? Perhaps the neighborhood was looking for a single building here instead of a number of smaller buildings? Or maybe, because the property sits so close to Frankford Avenue, the community wanted retail on the first floor. After all, there's a Steak N Shake across the street and just beyond that building we've seen some new mixed-use buildings rise on Frankford Ave. in the last couple years.
A reader tipped us off about some zoning notices at 1602-04 N. 3rd St. in South Kensington, and we decided to investigate. On our way to this property though, it came to our attention that 3rd Street disappears for several blocks in this neighborhood, ending at Thompson Street and resuming at Oxford Street. Seems like something that we should have known but has somehow escaped our attention until now. But we digress.
Considering the consistent development we've seen in South Kensington of late, we'd say that these garages are not the highest and best use for this property. Developers bought the garages about half a year ago, paying $110K for the privilege. Before you go off thinking they got a steal, you should know that even though the property has 38' of frontage and a pre-existing curb cut, it only goes back to a maximum of 35'. So that kind of limits what you can do here. The developers have proposed a triplex with a single parking spot, and we'll have to wait and see what the ZBA says about the variance, as the property is only zoned for single-family use.
Sure, we haven't been to Front Street for a little while, but now our Front Street coverage is returning in force, with multiple posts in the same week! You may remember that just a couple of days ago, we told you about the upcoming renovation of a church turned warehouse on the 1500 block, which commenters have clarified will be turned into office space. Today we turn our attention to the 1800 block, where a long vacant lot is seeing some new construction activity.
View from the north
1814-16 N. Front St. is a large lot which stretches all the way to Hope Street. You can see in the image above that developers have constructed a new building on each lot, and according to the permits each building will contain three residential units. Residential buildings are by-right here, as the properties are zoned for multi-family use. We'd have guessed that the properties would be zoned commercial, but the homes next door would suggest otherwise.
Though we could do without the stucco job and utter lack of architectural detail, we'd still contend that the southeast corner of 16th & Catharine is improved from its previous state. For many years, this property was home to a two-story building with a corner store on the first floor and perhaps an apartment above, but a little over a year ago we told you that developers had purchased the property and were pursuing a plan to construct an addition. The plans called for two apartments above a retail space after the community pushed back against a plan to convert the property into a triplex.