The vacant lot on the 1900 block of Walnut Street, across from Rittenhouse Square, has embarrassing the neighborhood for over twenty years. Over the years, a variety of possible projects have come down the pike for this property, including a large parking lot and movie theater project from the PPA.
Current view on Walnut Street
Sansom Street view
Historic buildings on Sansom Street
Some of those plans have been close to becoming a reality, but we're pretty sure none have come as close as the current proposal from Southern Land Company. We told you about this project at the beginning of the year when the details of the project were still up in the air. Back then, we showed you an image of the massing of three buildings with a small building on Walnut Street and two huge buildings on Sansom Street. Now, thanks to Skyscraperpage, we see that a totally different plan is now in the works. The developers are cooking up a plan for a 51 floor, 600' building that would include a mix of rental apartments, condos, and retail. Solomon Cordwell Buenz did the design work.
Maybe a week ago, on our way to get some pho from Thang Long on Kensington Avenue, we spied some new construction on the 1900 block of E. Cumberland Street, about a block away. For quite some time, 1908 and 1910 E. Cumberland St. have been vacant. But developers from Callahan Ward purchased the lots earlier this year and now they're building a pair of homes here.
Homes have been framed out
We reached out to the developers and learned that they're building two homes here, by right. Each home will have about 2,200 sqft of living space, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and large rear yards. Look for list prices in the low to mid $300K range. Because the project was done by-right, they didn't have their architects put together any fancy renderings, but you can already get a decent idea of what these homes will look like when they're done.
Next to the new homes, we wondered whether more development might be forthcoming.
Lots next door
Only one of the four lots next door have changed hands more recently than 1982, and that one was purchased by developers in 2008. So unless some other developers get creative and sleuth out the current owners, look for these lots to remain as they are for the time being.
What a slog it's been for the northwest corner of 17th & South. For years, this large and prominent lot sat vacant.
In the past
It was therefore with great excitement that, in the summer of 2011, we shared the news that developers were planning a new mixed-use building for this address. It took almost a year for them to get approvals from the ZBA, and then near neighbors appealed the project, putting it on hold. Finally, in the beginning of 2014, construction began on this nine-unit building and we told you that 7-11 would be leasing the ground floor space. But the construction process was slow, stalling completely by the time the summer rolled around. The building sat, mostly framed, for months, and then construction started up again in October. A little over a year later, the building looks like it's finished and the retail tenant is getting close to opening. The Slurpee machines are in place, and the awnings went up this week.
As East Kensington continues to see development on through streets like Amber and Coral, the side streets are also getting in on the act. We were meandering around the neighborhood last week and noticed some action on E. Letterly Street between Amber and Coral. A new home at 2084 E. Letterly St. was the first thing that caught our attention, perhaps because of the vinyl siding that's visible from Amber Street. The fact that it looms a bit over the neighboring homes may have also had something to do with it, good thing for that third floor setback! </sarcasm>
Nah, it really was just the vinyl that made us notice the home
This home has replaced a vacant lot and is currently under agreement at a list price of $270K. That price seems a little low for East Kensington, though the 14' width of the lot may have something to do with what someone's willing to pay here.
You can see in the image above there's more construction down the block.
A decade ago, the mostly vacant lot on the northwest corner of 2nd & Wildey fit right in. Northern Liberties was on the way up, but there was still so much vacancy everywhere. As the years have rolled off the calendar, you know the story. Liberties Walk; The Piazza; Dramatic improvements to the corridor on 2nd Street; Hundreds of projects from small, medium, and large sized developers. We've seen so much development in this neighborhood that it's almost odd to see any lingering vacant lots or buildings. A few, like the lot at 2nd & Wildey, have remained. But that lot is on the way out, according to a story from the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Corner of 2nd & Wildey
The story tells us that How Properties has purchased the parcel, which measures about 25K sqft. Their plan calls for a fifty-five foot building with 53 apartments and ground-floor retail. The story indicates that there's a rumor that a grocery store could be the tenant but we don't buy it. Taking aside the fact that there's an Acme just up the block, a 14,500 sqft space would only accommodate a specialty store like Trader Joe's. And we have a strong feeling that TJ's would never open in a space that has no parking lot. People like driving to Trader Joe's.
Despite all the growth that Frankford Avenue has seen in recent years, many vacancies still remain. If we may generalize- the farther you get from Girard and the closer you get to Lehigh, the more vacant lots and retail spaces you'll see. But there are positive signs for the further end of Frankford Avenue. The Kensington Community Food Co-op is coming soon to a building located at the intersection of Coral, Frankford, and Lehigh. Steak & Shake opened a couple years back where Amber hits Frankford. And just the other day, we spied some construction activity on a long vacant and overgrown patch of the 2500 block of Frankford Avenue.
A reader checked in earlier this week, giving us the heads up about a groundbreaking on the 1900 block of Parrish Street. 1930 and 32 Parrish St. were vacant for years, and it's not really a surprise these days to hear about redevelopment for vacant lots in Francisville. We were expecting two single family homes, but instead the project will mean a single quadplex. If we had to guess, we'd assume the units will be sold off as condos, like several other projects we've seen in the area.
Looking west on Parrish Street
The developers purchased the lots from New Welcome Baptist Church, the congregation located immediately to the west of the lots. The reader who brought the project to our attention wasn't so much interested in the construction as they were interested in the church next door. This is not unreasonable, considering the quadplex is getting built on land previously owned by the church. And with the neighborhood having lost at least one church to development in the last few years, it seemed like a relevant concern.
The property was actually listed for sale before the fire and somewhat oddly, each of the eleven units in the building were separately deeded. With the old building long gone and a 3,000+ sqft lot crying out for redevelopment, developers now will look to redevelop the property but with far fewer units. Plans call for four new homes on this parcel and we'd guess that two of the homes will front Moyamensing Avenue and the other two will front 4th Street. Each home will have a garage, but we're unclear on whether the parking will be accessed from the front or the rear.
We visited the 1300 block of N. Carlisle St. a couple years ago and lamented the poor condition of the block. Back then, the block was overrun with empty lots and there were only two buildings with Carlisle Street addresses. One of those "buildings" was a shanty surrounding by 'No Trespassing' signs. The Redevelopment Authority had sold 1316-18 N. Carlisle St., home to the shanty, back in 1998, but never did anything to ensure that the owner redevelop the properties. Instead the block looked like this for years:
The view in the past
Earlier this week, we were in the area, and spotted some construction. Just to the south of the properties we were just describing, new footers were recently poured at 1310-12 N. Carlisle St., formerly a vacant lot (of course). Plans call for a three-story building with a real estate office on the first floor and three apartments above. We wouldn't be surprised to see the office, necessary because of the commercial zoning, converted into an apartment at some point in the future.