vacant lot

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.

Joining its brethren

A couple months back, we visitied the 2200 block of Coral Street, noting the appearance of a new home at 2231 Coral St. and foundations for two more next door. The homes, collectively from developers Luval Inc., were of particular interest because of their slenderness. The typical Philly row home is 16' wide, but these were a mere 12' from side to side. The difference is significant.

We were back on the block the other day and spied some progress. The foundations have been framed out. And the home that had been framed out now has a facade and stucco on the side. All three are currently available for sale, with prices ranging from $310K to $330K. Check out the progress:

Current view

The vacant lot next door, which we told you will eventually turn into four more skinny homes, remains vacant at this time. We wonder whether those developers are waiting for the project next door to finish before they bring more supply to the area or whether something else is holding up the project.

Warehouse plus vacant lot

With all the recent action on Front Street in Northern Liberties, Fishtown, and South Kensington, it's no surprise that people who own properties on this long underperforming stretch are hoping to cash out. One particularly sizable example can be found at 1523 N. Front St., between Jefferson and Oxford Streets.

Lots and warehouse

The large building on the site has been home to James Scollon's Sons Building Construction & Repair, though we're pretty sure they've cleared out by now. The look of the building suggests it was once a church, and historical maps confirm that United Presbyterian Church once called this place home. Now, it's for sale for $2.1M along with a collection of surrounding vacant lots. According to the listing, it's almost 7,000 sqft of land combined.

View up Lee Street

This property would seem to be calling out for reuse into apartments, surrounded by new construction mixed-use. The existing building would especially work for residential use, considering it doesn't butt up against the El. Oxford Mills, the adaptive reuse project across the street, does come right up to the tracks but has tucked the residences further away. Instead, their space on Front Street is reserved for offices.

Interesting color choice in the rear

Last fall, we first told you about plans for development at the corner of 7th & Thompson. Out was a long vacant lot, in were four single family homes and a corner building with a retail space and two apartments above. When we passed by the site in January, framing was done and brickwork was underway. Visiting last week, we spied a project that's nearly finished.

Current view

As you can see, the buildings have a fairly contemporary look. Their most noticable detail though, is in the rear.

Back of the project is so blue

What do you think about this project? Do you like the flashy colors on the back, or would you have preferred something more muted?

Replacing blight and vacancy

We've seen a bunch of redevelopment near 31st & Baltz in recent years. Just yesterday for example, we told you about a bunch of apartments under construction just a half a block away. 30 Baltz, located on 30th Street, is an apartment building that's now finished and looks sweet. And MM Partners, the same guys that built 30 Baltz and a load of other projects in the neighborhood, have built plenty nearby.

Today, we look at three parcels close to 31st Street on Baltz, two of which have been blighted for years. The other has just been a vacant lot.

In the past

3045 Baltz St. was at one point a home and then more recently a church. Most recently however, it was home to a tree. The home next door has also been blighted for quite some time. Both properties are currently owned by a couple of developers who picked up the properties back in 2006. They tried to sell them for $135K each, but it doesn't seem they were successful and ultimately they decided to fix them up themselves. Alternately, it's certainly possible that they have indeed sold the properties but it's not yet reflected on public record.

Next door the long vacant, double-wide empty lot is being built upon by MM Partners, joining another down the block. That other home sold last summer for $290K, so it should be interesting to see whether the developers can get any more for this newest addition.

Fill in those gaps!

Last year, a new mixed-use building appeared on the corner of 19th & Fairmount, replacing a long vacant lot and covering a mural of Noam Chomsky. And while some neighbors may miss the public art, their sorrows are at least partially drowned by the presence of the wonderful Tela's Market & Kitchen on the ground floor of this building. In our book, a bunch of apartments plus a vibrant commercial space is the perfect addition to Fairmount Avenue where Spring Garden meets Francisville

A couple of weeks ago, the same developer that brought us the aforementioned building broke ground on another project just a couple blocks away. 1720 Fairmount Ave. has for years been a vacant lot used for the storage of bricks and stone. When we passed by the other day thanks to a reader tip, we discovered that construction is underway at this location.

Next to historic district

Last year, we wondered how new construction, ostensibly for student housing, would fit into the context of the Diamond Street Historic District near Temple. At the time, we didn't realize that there's a second historically protected section of Diamond Street in Strawberry Mansion. The West Diamond Street Townhouse Historic District was established in the early 1990s and is actually pretty similar to its sister district to the east. It runs from the 3000 block through the middle of the 3200 block, and contains dozens of homes built in the Renaissance Queen Anne Victorian Eclectic style.

But today we look at a property that isn't actually in that historic district. 3217 W. Diamond St. is the first property after the district ends and had no particularly historic features, though it was an interesting building. We're using the past tense here because the building was recently demolished.

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