Our boy William Penn laid out a sweet city, with the downtown grid creating predictability with right angles and numbered streets. But as you're surely well aware, that grid starts to break down as you head out of the middle of town, and much of that wonderful predictability starts to go out the window. That's a long way of saying that we have no idea how the lot at 1834-36 Vineyard St. came into existence, but we can't imagine it would've happened in Center City. Take a look at this thing, it's a 32' x 240' property that runs between Cameron and Perkiomen Streets, dead ending at the rear of some properties on Wylie Street.
What a weird lot
Until fairly recently, a couple of homes sat on the front of the lot on Vineyard Street and they had the biggest backyard ever. A reader reached out the other day though, letting us know that those homes have been torn down and there's some new construction taking place at the property.
Over the last few weeks, a couple of readers have reached out, wondering about the green space next to the Ingersoll Commons project at 16th & Master. For those unfamiliar with Ingersoll Commons, it's a 10-unit affordable housing project from Community Ventures which went up last year on an enormous parcel that had been sitting vacant for many years. This project is unique for a couple of reasons, not just because it's a new construction affordable housing project in the heart of student housing country. It's also quite unique because the plans include a large green space along 16th Street, taking up more of the parcel than the residential component. We told you about the groundbreaking for this park at the beginning of this year.
We're not usually in the business of bringing a one-off project to your attention, but for the new home at 2251 Catharine St., we decided to make an exception. And it's not because this new home was constructed on a lot that was sitting vacant for decades.
In the past
In fact, we're bringing it to your attention because it's a remarkably handsome new home that's been built in a neighborhood famous for awful residential architecture. Even if you've never heard the term "Graduate Hospital Special," you're surely familiar with the homes that were commonly built in the neighborhood over the last decade or so, with stucco-bay windows as their most prominent feature. It's clear that the developers were looking to take this particular project in a very different direction. Perhaps a good moniker for this new home is a "Graduate Hospital Exception."
Look at this place. You've gotta love the stone base, the brick work, the mansard, the lintels, the cornice, the little bay window, and the mansard. We especially appreciate that the developers bothered to continue the brick all the way to the rear of the property, given the prominence of the back yard to people coming down 23rd Street. Nice touch.
The spread of development in East Kensington isn't limited to large projects, we're also seeing it in the construction of one-off homes around the neighborhood. Given the number of little vacant lots sprinkled around, this isn't terribly surprising. Today, we look at two properties on Emerald Street that are in the midst of a major transformation. Previously, 2401 Emerald St. was a just a vacant lot, while 2337 Emerald St. was an aggressively overgrown vacant lot.
Talk about overgrown
Checking in on these properties today, we see active construction at both addresses. A new home has sprouted at the corner of Emerald and E. York Streets, and from the looks of the construction so far, it might be one of those properties that will make a statement, architecturally. We expect a round window where you see a circular cutout on the third floor, which for some reason always gives us a nautical vibe. Given the sea of vacant land nearby, we may be onto something. At 2337 Emerald St., framing only just got started, so we have no idea what to expect but the odds are it'll be some standard infill construction.
Inspired by our coverage of this immediate area, the owners of 629 E. Girard Ave., the property across the street from the shopping center, reached out to us to share news of a project that's now moving forward. Here's a look at that property right now:
Do you love tennis and have a hankering to live in Manayunk? Do you think tennis is just okay but love the Ugly Moose? If either statement applies to you, a new apartment building will soon be built that could be exactly the right place for you. Recently, we spied a fresh looking pile of dirt on Lauriston Street, a street that we only want to call Laurisen Street because we're huge Flyers fans. Alas, it's Lauriston and developers recently purchased a home and long vacant lot with an eye toward redevelopment. They've demolished the home and this is what we're left with:
Pile of dirt
In an apparently by-right effort, the developers are planning a sixteen-unit apartment building with architecture from KCA Design Associates. Not only will this building overlook the incorrectly named Downtown Tennis Club, but it will also be just around the corner from the popular Ugly Moose.
Elevation drawing of the building
This place will look pretty different than the other homes on the block, and you can see that this will sit on one of the neighborhood's steeper hills.
There's a long vacant property on Blair Street that could soon get redeveloped, assuming the ZBA gives the go ahead. 1807-19 Blair St. takes up roughly 5,000 sqft and has bustling Frankford Avenue to the east and Shissler Recreation Center immediately to the west. In July, developers presented their plans to Fishtown Neighbors Association for six new homes on this property, each with a front-loading garage. We don't know how the community responded, but given that a similar project was built just a few years ago up the block as part of the Frankford Square project, we would guess that it didn't face too much opposition.
Would you be able to find Leland Street on a map? We'll give you a hint, it's in Francisville. Give up? We don't blame you.
Leland Street runs for just over a block in Francisville, starting at Wylie Street and ending forever at Ginnodo Street. According to public record, Leland Street has only 27 legal addresses. Amazingly (though it's not so amazing given the neighborhood), one of those properties will soon get redeveloped. Some advance warning, this post might get a little confusing but this map should prove handy to maintain your bearings. Sorry to do this to you on the afternoon before a holiday weekend.
907 Leland St.
In the map image, we've highlighted 907 Leland St., the property that's going to be redeveloped. The developers are looking to build a five-unit building on this lot with parking in the back and will go before the ZBA later this month. Interestingly, the parking will be accessed via the drive-aisle used by the row of newer homes next door even though that property was (we think) developed by someone else. This project has been continued several times and we're not sure why- it seems like a reasonable enough plan for this location.
To refresh your memory, a building previously stood at this address which was built in 1894 and received historic designation in 1977. A fire in 2004 resulted in its demolition. Five years ago, developers proposed a five-story building at this location, with ground-floor retail and four apartments on the upper floors. Harman Deutsch did the design work for the project, which we imagine will maintain the same appearance as the rendering from half a decade ago.
A couple months ago, in the pouring rain, we spied a food truck parked on a vacant lot at the corner of 6th & Moyamensing. Up until very recently, this property looked like this:
View of the property in the past
Today though, Boba & Company has parked their food truck on the property and created a landscaped seating area, dramatically improving this generally lousy looking property.
Boba & Company
As the name suggests, they offer bubble tea for sale, and as the name doesn't indicate they also offer a limited menu of Laotian-Cambodian cuisine. We got a bubble tea when we visited in the rain the other month, but their Facebook page indicates that they're currently doing some repairs so they're not open right this minute to try anything else. We hope they'll be back up and running in the near future, and if you're in the area you can feel free to check 'em out.