Apartment Building is Replacing a Rowhome Church in the Middle of Sharswood

If you’re traveling from South Kensington to Brewerytown, as we were the other day, might we recommend Master Street as a convenient and clear shot across town? Your first inclination might be to take Girard, but there’s all those traffic lights, plus Girard College interrupts the flow of the street. So trust us, Master Street’s the way to go.

As we said, we were taking our own advice and traveling across town on Master Street a couple days ago. And we just so happened to spy some new construction on the 2200 block. The property at 2220 W. Master St. was home to the Mount Tabor AME church for many years, a congregation that appears to have converted a series of residential buildings to institutional use. Developers bought the church and its associated buildings back in 2014 and demoed everything within the last couple years. Now, there’s a sizable foundation on the property, in preparation for a 13-unit apartment building.

In the past
View from the other day
Foundations already in the ground

As far as we can tell, this is a market-rate development. And honestly, that’s kind of a surprise. Brewerytown is just a few blocks to the west and the Fairmount neighborhood sits a few blocks to the south, just on the other side of Girard College. But this property is located in the middle of Sharswood, a neighborhood known for affordable housing in the past and now the site of the largest collection of new PHA construction in the city. As you might expect, PHA owns half a dozen properties on this block. Maybe you wouldn’t expect, the north side of the block is all affordable housing, but owned by a private company. And there are many, many more affordable units planned for the surrounding area, as detailed here.

Units across the street

We’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, instances of scattered site PHA housing, located on blocks that are otherwise dominated by market rate homes. If we’re correct and this project is indeed of the market rate variety, it will be an unusual example of a single market-rate building located in the middle of a block that’s otherwise filled with lower income housing. If the developers are able to get the rental rates they need to make the project work, perhaps we’ll see additional market rate construction on the occasional privately owned lot in Sharswood. Otherwise, we could see market rate developers keep their distance from the middle of Sharswood, and continue to build along the edges of the neighborhood.