Earlier this week, we told you about an exciting plan for the 1200 block of N. 5th St. in South Kensington for 21 duplexes, a mixed-use building, and a public dog park supported by the development. Not only was this exciting news because (almost) everyone loves dog parks, but also because it meant the end of the road for a long vacant lot. As if that wasn't good enough news for this block, today we have info about another significant project right across the street.
Looking up 5th Street. Former umbrella factory in the distance
Zoning notice on the property
1216-26 N. 5th St., like its neighbor to the east, has been a vacant lot for quite some time. And like that neighbor, it will soon get redeveloped, assuming the ZBA approves. The property is actually the combination of six parcels that had been owned by three different parties, so kudos to the developers for putting these lots together into one project. Last month, they appeared before South Kensington Community Partners and presented a plan to build twenty-nine apartments with twenty car parking spaces and ten bike spots. A sign on the fence suggests that Continuum Architecture has done the design work.
Looking at an old listing, we see that the white two-story building was once an ambulance service center. Alexander Ginzburg purchased the building, along with the adjacent pair of lots, back in 2003 for a combined $30K. The Google Maps time machine function suggests that the little building has possibly been converted into a home and the lots have been used as a yard in recent years. At one point, we noticed a kiddie pool. Public record suggests that the lots are still owned by the same person, but there's a decent chance that a developer has stepped in and the City's records haven't caught up yet.
Over the years, we've been passing along news about various changes at or near the intersection of 19th & Poplar. It's almost impossible to keep track of all the new buildings that have sprung up, but a couple of lots have remained on the southeast corner. In recent years, those lots have contained an artistic 'Francisville' sign and a Zagar-ified tree. Now, a couple of zoning notices have also appeared on the site.
Developers have owned the parcel since 2010, but new owners stepped in last summer. Soon, they'll appear before the ZBA with plans for two duplexes, joining the relatively new duplexes immediately right next door. It will be a shame to see this little artsy nook disappear, but if we're to be honest with ourselves it was only a matter of time before this was going to happen.
Looking up 19th Street, progress on another project
We last visited this intersection in March when we discovered four foundations on 19th Street, half a block to the north. Today, four triplexes have risen from the ground and brickwork is underway. This parcel, in contrast to the corner with the sign and tree, was a mess for many years. So nothing sad about this parcel turning over.
South Kensington has come a very long way in the last few years, but it still possesses entirely too many enormous vacant lots. This doesn't really come as much of a surprise- it's actually to be expected when witnessing the redevelopment of a neighborhood once dominated by industry. But today we have good news on this fine Monday! One of those aforementioned big lots should soon be on the outs.
Currently, the east side of 5th Street south of Thompson is an overgrown mess. It's only half a block from Girard Avenue though, making it a excellent candidate for redevelopment. Last week, developers for 1213 N. 5th St. came before the community in a South Kensington Community Partners meeting to present information on their big plans for the parcel. Without even seeing the plans yet, you can imagine it would be an improvement.
Looking north on 5th Street
But it just so happens, we've seen the plans, thanks to the good people at Harman Deutsch. And they do indeed make for a fine improvement over what we see today. The project will entail 14 duplexes on 5th Street, 7 duplexes on Orkney Street, a mixed-use building at the corner of 5th & Thompson, and a dog park. The site plan also shows 45 parking spaces for the 45 units that will be created.
Last fall, we heard about possible renovation plans for a vacant warehouse on the northeast corner of 26th & Poplar, though our information was far from complete. The owners had pulled permits to build roof decks which suggested an upcoming residential use, but we didn't see any other permits out there aside from an old one to convert the building into seven apartments with a first floor commercial space. Many months have passed, but our info remains incomplete, as we are still not seeing any fresh building permits that detail a final plan for the property. So you're probably wondering why we're bothering checking back here.
When we last visited (and according to several old permits), it seems the plan was to reuse the existing building. Now our eyes (and some newer permits) suggest that the building is getting demolished. It's a shame, it was a nice looking old structure that would have made a nice adaptive reuse project. That being said, the removal of the building opens up the possibility for something taller, with more density and a more flexible commercial space. The lot is just a touch over 7,000 sqft, which would allow for 15 apartments by right with retail on the first floor if our calculations are correct. We'd think that we'll at least see that, if not a larger building with more units if they decide they want to go the ZBA route.
Alas, a new four-story building that will include 12 units—a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments from Streamline Realty, has risen on the site. Nearly complete, it is framed out, with the windows fixed in place, with some bricks laid and some additional sheathing to come. This project shows how the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association has maintained a consistent thread, holding developers to zoning code height standards, and considering the current character of a block when deciding whether or not to lend its support. The developers reappeared four times, tweaking designs each time to meet the requests of neighbors and NLNA. The initial proposal envisioned 18 units, and a fourth-floor without setbacks.
In West Philly, change has finally occurred on the southwest corner of 46th & Sansom, a parcel that has been vacant for many years. A little over a year ago, we noticed the beginnings of construction activity at this site, and mentioned plans for six quadplexes. Last winter, it looked like the project was stalled, though we were pleased to see some blighted buildings getting torn down across the street.
Now a vacant lot on the southeast corner
Last month, West Philly Local reported that building was happening on the southwest corner, with a flatbed dropping off modular sections of new buildings. The project is called Sansom Street Flats, and has changed somewhat since our original report. Instead of quadplexes, it's triplexes. Like much of the construction in West Philadelphia in recent years, the architecture won't really do justice to the existing buildings in the neighborhood. We wish the developers would have opted for something that looked like the buildings that once stood here but that was probably a pipe dream.
A few years ago, the tide of development started flowing across Washington Avenue, and new homes appeared on blocks like Ellsworth, Federal, and Latona Streets. But there wasn't a whole lot happening south of Wharton Street, at least in the western sections of Point Breeze. More recently, we've seen a serious bump in construction south of Wharton, with many projects in the ground and some more still to come. Today we look at the 1700 block of Dickinson Street, where three homes are currently under construction and at least one more should follow soon.
Two new homes are under construction
The southeast corner of 18th & Dickinson has been vacant since at least 2007 per Google Maps, and we're guessing for many years before that as well. If you visit the corner today, you'll see two new homes under construction. Emerald Properties bought the three lots on the corner a couple of years ago and now they're redeveloping the properties. The corner lot is zoned commercial and has approvals for a first floor commercial space and an apartment above. They have an application to the ZBA to build a single-family home, but whether they get approval remains to be seen.
The Northern Liberties Neighbors Association recently supported plans for a single-family home at 456-58 Myrtle St., with a request for adding more open space, according to zoning chair Larry Freedman. But the ZBA rejected the plans from developer Tom Cohen and architect Ed Fink at Fusa Designs. Right now, they are adjusting their plans, Freedman said. Fink echoed those comments, saying the reason they were denied by ZBA was for height, and that they would reduce the height in the new plans. The developers acquired the now vacant parcel, located across the street from the parking lot of another modern style Northern Liberties development, last October.
At 1720 Fairmount Ave., what was for years a storage lot for building materials like brick and stone is now a framed out four-story building. When it's finished, it will include 18 new apartments and complete one of the closing paragraphs of the tale about redevelopment along Fairmount Avenue.
In the past
It's been a couple of years in the making, and seeing this project get some legs, and then a torso, as it was framed, shows developers are looking to get people living in the building sometime this year.