vacant lot

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.

Odd that these lots have been empty so long

Bella Vista has been a great place to live for decades, and vacant land tends to be scarce. So it's a bit surprising to come upon two long-vacant parcels right next to one another that are independently catching the development bug. First let's consider the more obvious property:

New framing at Passyunk & Queen

810 E. Passyunk Ave. has been used over the years as a tiny unofficial parking lot. This triangular parcel was able to accommodate two cars, maybe three if one was a Smart car. Developers bought the lot in 2013, took it to zoning, and then sold it the next year with approvals for a single-family home. The construction has progressed rather slowly, as framing has dragged on for at least a month and a half. Still, we imagine the home will be done at some point this year. Considering the shape of the lot, the inside of the home should be really unique, so let's cross our fingers that there's an open house.

Right around the corner, we see a string of vacant lots on the north side of the 600 block of Queen Street.

Across the street from another big project that's coming

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.

Another project close to Aramingo

Last month, we told you about the Cumberland Point Townhomes, three homes under construction on E. Cumberland Street just steps from Aramingo Avenue. Somehow, we missed another ongoing project just a couple blocks away. Until quite recently, 2534-36 Gaul St. was a vacant lot. But today it's a different scene.

In the past
Two new homes framed out

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.

Cool sign and tree will disappear

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.

Recent shot

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.

Currently a large and overgrown lot

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
Looking south

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.