vacant lot

But just two homes joining the party

20th Street between Titan and Wharton has seen some big changes in the last few years. At the corner of 20th & Titan, a single family home sprung from the ground on a lot that had previously been vacant for decades. This home has been joined by other new construction and rehabs on the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Titan Street. All the way at Wharton Street, two duplexes were built in the last twelve months which are occupied as rentals. These buildings also replaced vacant lots.

Looking south from Titan down to Wharton Street

As of a few days ago, this little stretch still had three vacant lots. But now that number has been slashed to one as construction is underway on two new homes at 1252-54 S. 20th St., immediately to the north of the new duplexes. When we passed by today, formwork was in place, suggesting foundations are on the come.

Formwork next to newer duplexes

Immediately to the north of the future homes is a two-story house that's in really bad shape. It's had several violations open since the end of last year, and we wouldn't be shocked to see it demolished by the City at some point. The lot next door to the home is owned by the City so it might be some time before it turns over.

Our patience is rewarded

Over three years ago, we wrote about the 13th & South intersection, hoping for change for the two southern corners. Slowly, over the last year, we've learned about plans for the Residence at Twelve40 and Katertown, two adjacent projects on the southeast corner which will eventually mean twenty-one new condo units and a fresh commercial space. This will obviously be a big improvement over the vacant lot we've seen here for longer than we can remember.

Southeast corner getting turned into...

With plans crystalized for the southeast corner and with a bunch of new people living a block away at the recently completed Southstar Lofts, it seems like a fait accompli that the long-vacant retail space on the southwest corner would finally find a tenant. Remember, this place was a tattoo parlor once upon a time, but it's been sitting empty for several years and the retail space was boarded up for a time. More recently, the glass on the first floor has been cracked and the space has generally looked like crap. Despite this, a business is poised to fill this space at last.

Surely they'll be more student housing

Between the summer just passed and the last, there's been consistent building along Spring Garden Street in West Philly starting the minute you cross over the Spring Garden Bridge. Closer to the Drexel and Penn campuses, numerous large-scale institutional developments have generally ruled the roost. But deeper into Mantua, smaller residential developments are sprouting up everywhere.

Right now the 3600 block of Spring Garden Street has a few different projects to speak of. For many years, 3614 and 3616 Spring Garden St. were vacant lots. The eastern parcel is now well into construction on a six-unit apartment building. The other, which was owned by City agencies for half a decade, was sold to developers last year and recently got approvals for a quadplex. We have little doubt that these units will be offered as student housing.

In the past
Recent view

The south side of this street is getting a couple of new construction properties whose architectural details don't compare to their neighbors. To drink in the way the standards have changed over time, we just need to look across the street.

It's so long for a big vacant lot

Over the summer, we brought you to the 1300 block of Mascher St., a block with mostly warehouses, a few homes, and a rather large vacant lot right in the middle. It seems likely that this parcel, 1326 Mascher St., was once a warehouse too, but those days are long gone.

Looking down Mascher Street
View of the lot

When we visited this block together, we told you that developers had appeared before the community with plans for twenty homes on this large parcel, and we hoped that they would get their needed approval from the ZBA. Turns out they got approval on the very day we wrote the post, and now the project is proceeding. Though groundbreaking hasn't happened yet, we were able to cull the pre-construction listings for some images of just what this project is gonna look like. Check it out:

Returning to a project we profiled a couple years back

The other day, we came upon an unfortunate looking building under construction in South Philly. We don't typically write about projects in this area, but the new triplex at 1930 S. 7th St. made us stop in our tracks to the point we felt we simply had to share. Here it is, in all its stucco-fied glory.

Recently built triplex

In other neighborhoods, we've gotten aggravated at the sight of a mere stucco bay window. But we can only recall a handful of other examples of an entire new construction building blandly wrapped in one color of stucco. We wonder, does a similar fate await the foundation just to the north?

Foundation two "doors" down

We actually told you about these projects a couple of years ago, but we had no idea that the buildings would look like this. Architecturally, it looks like they got some inspiration from the buildings immediately to the north.

Hidden block getting in on the action

It's possible you've never heard of New Market Street in Northern Liberties, though we've written about it on several occasions. A north-south street between Front and 2nd Streets, it once stretched from Spring Garden Street to Germantown Avenue, but the construction of I-95 consumed most of it, chopping off everything south of Poplar. But even though it's hidden, it hasn't been immune to the development bug in the neighborhood. Today we revisit two medium-sized projects under construction on this street.

In the past
Current view

We first told you about 924-28 New Market St. a couple of years ago, back when it was a wide old stucco-front building that housed a fence company. Looking into its history, we learned that the building was once a church and then the D'rshe Tov synagogue, which moved to the northeast in the 1960s. Last spring, we discovered plans to demolish the building and replace it with five homes. As you can see, only one home actually fronts New Market Street, with the rest recessed and accessed with a drive-aisle. It's a shame the former religious building was taken down, but it looked like it was beyond preservation.

Shells and vacant lots dropping like flies

A couple days ago, after we enjoyed a coffee at One Shot and after we noticed the finished construction next door which is now home to DnA Salon, we headed south down American Street and spied a little more construction activity. At 1004 N. American St., a kind of unfortunate addition has appeared, with a slightly different color brick on the third floor facade giving it away. At 1006 N. American St., there's a new home that's replaced a vacant lot that's on the skinny side.

Squeezed in but looking spacious

In Fishtown, developers are stuffing in new houses wherever they can. As in East Kensington, they're building homes on super skinny lots, unexpectedly small lots, and on little streets. Take, for example, the 1400 block of Emerick St., which qualifies as little more than an alley that leads to Miller Street. Still, Brickstone Group LLC is building three houses at 1410-14 Emerick St., former vacant lots. These guys are also, by the way, involved in a project on Coral Street that we've covered.

In the past
Current view from Belgrade St.
Closer look

The developers purchased the lots a little less than a year ago, and are now offering three homes for sale for a range of prices. The largest, with 2,600 sqft of space, 4 bedrooms, and 3.5 bathrooms, is listed for $469K. A skinnier version, with 1,750 sqft inside, 3 bedrooms, and 3.5 bathrooms, is listed for $384K. With high performance closed cell insulation, at least the energy bills should be extremely reasonable for whoever ends up buying these homes.

Refining the vision

We're generally peeved about large vacant lots in prominent locations. Broad & Washington (two lots!) drives us nuts. We're annoyed about the large triangular lot at 19th & Wylie in Francisville. And the vacant lot at 13th & South has raised our ire for years.

The lot

But ah, when those lots get developed does it ever feel good. That's why we were so excited to share the news earlier this year that new owners, PRDC Properties, had stepped in with plans to finally redevelop the parcel. We shared a rendering from Interface Studio back in June, but the visuals have changed some. So here we go.

Homes get a facelift

The other week, we passed by Carpenter Square on 17th Street just south of Carpenter, and saw some work happening that piqued our interest. This project, in case you don't remember, has meant the construction of eleven new homes on a long vacant lot. A second phase, with a mixed-use building and a courtyard at the corner, is currently under construction. In a neighborhood for which an unattractive architectural style is named, the handsome look of this project has been a welcome break from recent history.

The homes in the past
Mixed-use phase under construction

The construction that caught our eye a few weeks back was not work on the corner, but on the homes that were finished earlier this year. It looked like the facades were being replaced. So we reached out to the developers to get the scoop.