vacant lot

Wonderful new addition for the community

Maria Pandolfi, a former art teacher at Childs Elementary, is partnering with Ron Kustrup and opening an after-school arts center for children in the ground floor space of the new building at the intersection of Point Breeze Avenue & Titan Street. This building has been a long time coming, as OCF Realty first presented plans for 13 apartments and a commercial space in January of 2012. The property had been sitting vacant for many years.

In the past

Construction finally got moving last year, after an appeal set back the clock on the project timeline. Today, the building is done and half of the apartments are occupied.

Come out and show some support!

A construction fence appeared last summer at the southeast corner of 20th & Reed, a corner that's been vacant for quite some time. We were pleased to tell you about plans for a mixed-use building at the corner and a home next door, but we weren't exactly confident that a retail tenant would rush into a lease at this location. We wondered whether the developers were taking an approach we've seen in other neighborhoods, where a space is built out as commercial but transitions to residential for a lack of interest from businesses. Looking at the building, you can see that the first floor could work as either a business or an apartment.

20th & Reed
Closer look

But sometimes we're wrong and in this case it seems we were. And we're not sad to admit it.

If you take a close look at the window, you can see a letter has been posted.

All need variances for different reasons

The agenda at last week's SOSNA zoning committee meeting was fairly innocuous and we almost didn't attend. But sometimes even a boring looking agenda can produce an interesting meeting, so we're kinda glad we showed our face after all. Today we'll give you the lowdown on three of the four projects that were on that agenda, all of which are located on 21st Street.

Vacant lot at 730 S. 21st St.

730 S. 21st St. has been vacant for a long time, and in recent years it contained a neatly landscaped garden. These days it's a little overgrown, but maybe that's because it's in the process of getting sold and soon a home will sprout here. The proposal for this parcel is very straightforward, just a single-family home. The lot is only 47' deep, and a by-right build would only permit a 33' deep home which is a lousy depth for a new construction home. Aside from some confusion about the status of the upcoming sale of the property, the people in room didn't seem to have an issue with the project.

This episode feels like a rerun

We were so excited to attend the Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition meeting last November where developer Bart Blatstein presented his plans for the long-vacant lot at the northeast corner of Broad & Washington. We can't say we expected the project would be in the ground by now, but we were at least hopeful. Alas, the property still sits vacant, as it has for so many years.

The crappy present
Project rendering

A refresher, the project four stories of retail, a parking garage with over 700 parking spots, and two residential towers, each with 500 to 800 units. Beyer Blinder Belle did the design work, and while we would think the project could benefit from some fine-tuning, it looks like a reasonable build considering the size and location of the property. But it appears the community isn't necessarily in love with the project. Recently, someone posted a flyer on Facebook indicating significant changes that the HEC board would like to see.

First visit since last fall

We've visited the 2300 block of Ellsworth Street several times over the years, each time bringing news of new construction (except for that one time a home collapsed on the block). Today seems like as good a day as any to check in.

Most recently, we covered two new homes at 2313-15 Ellsworth St. from To the Sky LLC. Those homes are now finished and sold for just under $400K. The same developers are finishing up a duplex next door at 2311 Ellsworth St. which they're selling as condos. The upper unit is under agreement at $300K and the lower unit is still available at an asking price of $265K. Back in 2011, this was all vacant land.

Back in 2011
2311-15 Ellsworth St. today

Moving to the west, we see some more homes that have appeared in the last couple of years. The home at 2327 Ellsworth St., currently under construction, has risen where the home had previously collapsed. All of the other lots were also previously vacant. And in case you're wondering about the lonely vacant lot that remains, you probably should have guessed that it's owned by the City of Philadelphia.

But we actually lived there once upon a time

You've probably never visited the 1200 block of Annin Street. It's a skinny block that looks like it dead-ends at its western end (but there's actually a narrow path out to Federal Street). Architecturally, it's a very mixed bag, with a row of newer-looking garage-front homes with driveways, a couple of standard Philly row homes, and a bunch of former warehouses that have been converted, mostly into residential use.

Looking west on the 1200 block of Annin Street
Former warehouses converted to residential
More warehouse conversions

We actually lived on this block back in the day, in a building that was once a toilet seat factory but was converted, at some point, into five apartments with 1:1 parking. It was a fine place to live for a year, and it was kind of fun to come back to cover a proposed project for the block.

Student housing stretches ever further east

A reader recently reached out on Twitter (follow us @nakedphilly), curious about some construction activity at 1901 N. 7th St., in a section of town we don't get to very often. We took a peek on the old Google Maps time machine function to see that this property looked totally awful as recently as a couple of years ago.

In the past

Now, however, it's a huge construction site.

The other day

The plan for this site is nine triplexes, making a total of twenty-seven new units. The developer is PRDC Properties, though looking at their sign on the site they'd be happy to sell the project to you if you're interested. When we reached out to the developers though, we were informed that it's their policy to not comment on any projects beyond what's in the public record. So let's look at the sign and call it a day.

Development keeps spreading to the north

South Kensington continues to see new projects pop up, and as the neighborhood changes we're seeing projects drift further from the middle of the action. There have certainly been exceptions, the bulk of the construction activity in the area has taken place east of 4th Street. But today we look at an addition to the growing list of said exceptions.

Previously, 1321-25 N. 7th St. was a fenced-in lot, not a bad look considering how bad so many other lots look in this neighborhood.

In the past

Visit the site today and you see something very different.

Current view

The first three bays that you see are part of the same project, the N7 Condos. Developers purchased the properties last year and are building three triplex condo buildings. The layout is standard, with a 1st floor-basement unit, a 2nd floor unit, and a 3rd floor unit with roof deck access. Toner Architects did the design work. Though you can get a pretty good idea of what the project will look like given the exterior progress, here's a rendering anyway.

One of the more poorly-conceived projects we've seen

We were cruising through East Kensington today and came upon a significant construction site where Hagert Street meets Emerald Street, in a sea of huge vacant lots. We quickly realized that we've actually covered this project before, though it was over two years ago.

Construction site

At that time, the plans for this site called for a project for seniors who "wish to maintain an independent lifestyle in an urban community setting." Since we can't actually find the permits for the project, we're assuming that the thing hasn't changed. The project will rise three stories and will include forty residential units, eight parking spots, and a lot of open space. Particularly worthwhile, there will be a bunch of planting beds on site that green-thumbed residents will be able to use. Here are some visuals from when we first told you about the project:

Want a single family home instead

Last month, developers presented plans for a duplex with off-street parking at 439 Belgrade St. to the community at the monthly Fishtown Neighbors Association zoning meeting and the outcome was a strong vote of 38 in opposition to 21 in support. According to, the owners of this property live next door and the lot has been used for years as a corner parking lot. According to Matt Karp, FNA zoning chair, neighbors want a single-family home here, not a duplex. With a lot that's over 1,300 sqft and considering that the two proposed parking spots wouldn't impact street parking at all, we're not sure we understand why the community opposed the project.