vacant lot

How 'bout five instead?

Development in Fishtown is shuffling towards its borders as parcels near Aramingo Ave. have been getting attention in recent months. But developers with plans to build six townhomes at 2631-35 E Norris St. will have to amend their project if they want community support.

The long empty lot

At a community meeting last month, neighbors thought six homes on three lots was too many, according to Matt Karp, Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning chair. Currently, the parcel is a large fenced-in vacant lot with some big trees. The size of said trees suggests that the lot has been this way for many years. Gator Properties acquired the parcel for $350K in 2004 along with the home next door, used as a rental property ever since. Clearly, the developers have been biding their time with this lot.

But the community isn't into it

In Fishtown, neighbors recently voted in opposition to a project that would nearly double the density allowed by right at 1019-23 E Columbia Ave., and it wasn't even close. At a Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning meeting earlier this month, neighbors voted 2-39 not to support plans to convert a parcel under the heels of I-95 into nine new homes and three new duplexes—a total of 15 units 

Zoning notice at the parcel

Designed by KJO Architecture, original plans called for the demolition of a warehouse set back near fifty feet Columbia's intersection with Salmon St. just before the I-95 overpass. As it were, the plans envisioned a Salmon Street fronting, which would have allowed developers to fit twelve new structures on an area that, according to Matt Karp, FNA zoning chair, is by right, suited for six or seven houses. Karp estimates that number by taking the total square footage of the lot—about 9700 sqft if you add up the size according to OPA numbers—and dividing it by the size allotted by the zoning code designation that applies to the property—1440 sqft—and you get seven (if you round up). The increased density waved a red flag among neighbors.

“The community didn't understand why they're doubling the amount of density that's allowed,” Karp said. He added that it was a large site, that could nicely accommodate six houses.

Replacing vacant lots

Recently, a reader tipped us off about some new construction taking place at 1231-33 N. 2nd St., which sits just half a block north of Girard Avenue. These parcels were previously vacant for years, owned by the church next door since the 1970s. Needless to say, the church wouldn't have been able to get a combined $190K for these lots back then.

Foundations are in
Church previously owned the lots

In case the title of this post wasn't a dead giveaway, the construction we see today will eventually mean two triplexes on this site. This project, designed by Harman Deutsch, is being done by right, a seemingly rare case of the zoning being appropriate for the lot size and location. Looking up the block, it seems that many other properties are also split into multiple units.

Coming to absolutely nobody's surprise

We're starting to feel like a broken record- there's more mixed-use development coming to Frankford Avenue. Last month, the Fishtown Neighbors Association supported developers' plans to build a mixed-use building with ground floor commercial at 2325 Frankford Ave. near the East Kensington border.

Lot on Frankford Ave.

They'll build on an empty lot on a block that has a few vacant parcels strung in between homes and other mixed-use buildings. In the future this block could have more potential if those remaining lots get built up. It's already gotten some action in the last couple of years, with the appearances of Pizza Brain and Little Baby's Ice Cream. If the auto garage across the street were to get redeveloped, it would be even better. In addition to the Frankford Ave. building, the developers will build a single family home that fronts Collins Street.

Home is coming to Collins Street

The giant lot across the street remains dormant

We've seen so many changes in Francisville in the last few years, with quite a bit of development centered around 19th & Poplar. A mere block away from this transformed intersection, we came upon a little infill project that's currently getting way more sunlight than it deserves. Previously, 843-45 Cameron St. was a double-wide garage on a narrow street. The street remains the same; the property, not so much.

In the past
Now under construction

According to permits, the developers, MJL Properties, have added a story (duh), and will use the property for four apartments. This conversion makes perfect sense, as residential demand has grown in Francisville, especially closer to the Fairmount border.

Looking at the photo above, you'll notice a huge vacant lot in the foreground. This is surely convenient for the developers, as it gives their trucks and dumpster ample room to stretch out. It will likewise be lovely for the people who eventually move into these units, who will get an above-average amount of natural light thanks to the lack of homes across the street. It's not as great for the neighborhood. We've actually covered this lot on a few previous occasions.

Years in the making

Traveling west across the Spring Garden Bridge, dodging construction, you can't help but notice a new building is getting built at the corner of 31st & Spring Garden at the end of the bridge.

Looking west on the Spring Garden Bridge
Closer look

This project has actually been years in the making. Two years ago, we told you about a sign on what was then a vacant lot, advertising 7,000 sqft of office space with parking. According to one of our readers, that sign had been posted since at least 2009. Back when we wrote the original post, the ZBA had approved a three story building with a real estate office over two floors, two apartments, and seven parking spaces. The project now rising is similar. The real estate office is still part of the deal, but now it's three apartments and only five parking spots. Alas.

Hear about 'em in person

We generally like to tell you about projects after the wheels start turning in the community process, but tonight we're gonna make an exception. On December 15th at 6:30pm, South Philadelphia Homes is holding a community meeting for several larger projects planned for Point Breeze. Later this week, we'll have some additional info on these projects, but for now here's the agenda:

- Thirteen units at 24th & Manton with thirteen parking spots
24th & Manton
- Expansion of Madira at 1252 S. 21st St., 
- Duplex 1301 S. 23rd St.
- Signage at 1447 Point Breeze Ave.
- Additiona at 1822 Latona St.
- Four homes at 2408-14 Manton St.
- Mixed-use building at 24th & Ellsworth
24th & Ellsworth

You've heard about these meetings on this site in the past- go to one and be a part of the community process!

Disclosure: This may come as a shock but our parent company, OCF Realty, is involved in none of these projects.

Tons of change blocks north of campus

The months keep falling off the calendar and development around Temple has continued to buzz. Derelict buildings have been demolished and replaced with shiny new (often boring) buildings. Lots that sat vacant for decades have turned over. So much construction has happened here of late, people who graduated even five years ago wouldn't even recognize their former neighborhood.

While all of this makes perfect sense in the abstract, we figured we'd give you a visual example of just how much change has come to a random intersection in the area. There's no particular reason we picked 12th & Dauphin, but it certainly illustrates the point. Check out some images of what the area looked like back in 2009, thanks to the brilliance of the Google Maps Time Machine feature.

Mirrors changes on the corridor

For years, the northwest corner of 17th & South was a large vacant lot. Three summers back, we told you of plans to redevelop the parcel, a project that would mean nine apartment units and a 7-11 on the first floor. It took awhile, but construction finally started moving earlier this year. And then it came to a screeching halt and the project sat, seemingly in limbo, for several months. Thankfully, construction started moving again in October or November, and much progress has been made. The building is certainly an upgrade over what we had here before, though we confess we're holding out hope that the 7-11 thing will fall through.

Construction is on track again

Across the street, it's worthwhile to mention that another project we talked about way back when is set to move forward. In May of 2013, we told you that Puentes de Salud, a non-profit that focuses on health care needs of the Latino community, was hoping to open a clinic on the southwest corner of 17th & South, in a space that's attached to an unattractive parking garage. We always kind of envisioned a bar opening there, but South Street West has gotten new drinking establishments in other locations such that near neighbors shouldn't find themselves so thirsty these days.

Big lot on Poplar Street on the outs

In Francisville, long vacant lots are filling in at a disarming pace, and it seems like the development fisherman has hooked another big one. A reader checked in today, alerting us to the outcome of last night's Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation zoning meeting, where neighbors overwhelmingly supported a new development at 1617-33 Poplar St. that would replace a giant vacant lot near Ridge Avenue.

Current view
View of the site from above

As you can see, this parcel is quite large and quite vacant. The overhead view is clearly from a couple of years ago and doesn't show other development that's happened nearby since. Surrounded by other projects, the new development here will feel quite at home, though it will be among the larger projects to come down the pike for this area. So you may wonder, what was it that neighbors learned about last night and supported to the tune of 69-4?