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 little over a year ago, we told you about a new building under construction at 17 S. 44th St., on the southeast corner of 44th & Ludlow. The building was notable in part because its construction was covering up the views of a mural on the northern wall of 21 S. 44th St. which pays tribute to the local Ethiopian community.
In the past
But perhaps even more noticeable, we expressed that the building would ultimately rise up to five stories, and would tower over all the other buildings in the vicinity. As we told you before, the height of the building was permitted by right because the property is zoned CMX-4, a zoning designation that doesn't seem to fit with the surrounding neighborhood and would likely get remapped if such a thing happened in this part of town. With a relatively small 15'x78' footprint, we'd have never expected a developer to build such a tall building, but here we are:
Through some amazing coincidence (we swear, this wasn't planned), we last visited the 1200 block of Bonsall Street exactly one year ago. At that time, two new homes were under construction where Bonsall Street hits the 2300 block of Federal. Those homes are now, as you might guess, finished, with the interior home selling for $380K and the corner selling for a whopping $459K. Today though, we'll draw your attention a half block to the south, to 1240 S. Bonsall St., at the corner of Bonsall & Oakford.
Corner of Bonsall & Oakford
Developers bought this formerly vacant lot earlier this year, paying $100K for the privilege. We'd guess they'd be incredibly satisfied with a similar price to what the developers got at the corner of Federal Street. Wouldn't you? Meanwhile, the vacant lot next door and the home that's just to the south both sold in August, which tells us that both will be redeveloped soon even though there aren't yet any permits pulled for those properties.
Our boy William Penn laid out a sweet city, with the downtown grid creating predictability with right angles and numbered streets. But as you're surely well aware, that grid starts to break down as you head out of the middle of town, and much of that wonderful predictability starts to go out the window. That's a long way of saying that we have no idea how the lot at 1834-36 Vineyard St. came into existence, but we can't imagine it would've happened in Center City. Take a look at this thing, it's a 32' x 240' property that runs between Cameron and Perkiomen Streets, dead ending at the rear of some properties on Wylie Street.
What a weird lot
Until fairly recently, a couple of homes sat on the front of the lot on Vineyard Street and they had the biggest backyard ever. A reader reached out the other day though, letting us know that those homes have been torn down and there's some new construction taking place at the property.
Over the last few weeks, a couple of readers have reached out, wondering about the green space next to the Ingersoll Commons project at 16th & Master. For those unfamiliar with Ingersoll Commons, it's a 10-unit affordable housing project from Community Ventures which went up last year on an enormous parcel that had been sitting vacant for many years. This project is unique for a couple of reasons, not just because it's a new construction affordable housing project in the heart of student housing country. It's also quite unique because the plans include a large green space along 16th Street, taking up more of the parcel than the residential component. We told you about the groundbreaking for this park at the beginning of this year.
We're not usually in the business of bringing a one-off project to your attention, but for the new home at 2251 Catharine St., we decided to make an exception. And it's not because this new home was constructed on a lot that was sitting vacant for decades.
In the past
In fact, we're bringing it to your attention because it's a remarkably handsome new home that's been built in a neighborhood famous for awful residential architecture. Even if you've never heard the term "Graduate Hospital Special," you're surely familiar with the homes that were commonly built in the neighborhood over the last decade or so, with stucco-bay windows as their most prominent feature. It's clear that the developers were looking to take this particular project in a very different direction. Perhaps a good moniker for this new home is a "Graduate Hospital Exception."
Look at this place. You've gotta love the stone base, the brick work, the mansard, the lintels, the cornice, the little bay window, and the mansard. We especially appreciate that the developers bothered to continue the brick all the way to the rear of the property, given the prominence of the back yard to people coming down 23rd Street. Nice touch.
The spread of development in East Kensington isn't limited to large projects, we're also seeing it in the construction of one-off homes around the neighborhood. Given the number of little vacant lots sprinkled around, this isn't terribly surprising. Today, we look at two properties on Emerald Street that are in the midst of a major transformation. Previously, 2401 Emerald St. was a just a vacant lot, while 2337 Emerald St. was an aggressively overgrown vacant lot.
Talk about overgrown
Checking in on these properties today, we see active construction at both addresses. A new home has sprouted at the corner of Emerald and E. York Streets, and from the looks of the construction so far, it might be one of those properties that will make a statement, architecturally. We expect a round window where you see a circular cutout on the third floor, which for some reason always gives us a nautical vibe. Given the sea of vacant land nearby, we may be onto something. At 2337 Emerald St., framing only just got started, so we have no idea what to expect but the odds are it'll be some standard infill construction.
Inspired by our coverage of this immediate area, the owners of 629 E. Girard Ave., the property across the street from the shopping center, reached out to us to share news of a project that's now moving forward. Here's a look at that property right now:
Do you love tennis and have a hankering to live in Manayunk? Do you think tennis is just okay but love the Ugly Moose? If either statement applies to you, a new apartment building will soon be built that could be exactly the right place for you. Recently, we spied a fresh looking pile of dirt on Lauriston Street, a street that we only want to call Laurisen Street because we're huge Flyers fans. Alas, it's Lauriston and developers recently purchased a home and long vacant lot with an eye toward redevelopment. They've demolished the home and this is what we're left with:
Pile of dirt
In an apparently by-right effort, the developers are planning a sixteen-unit apartment building with architecture from KCA Design Associates. Not only will this building overlook the incorrectly named Downtown Tennis Club, but it will also be just around the corner from the popular Ugly Moose.
Elevation drawing of the building
This place will look pretty different than the other homes on the block, and you can see that this will sit on one of the neighborhood's steeper hills.