We were heading to Roxborough the other day and there was traffic on 76, so we opted to take Ridge Avenue all the way. When you take Ridge from downtown to Roxborough, first you pass through Francisville, then Sharswood, then Strawberry Mansion. Historically, we haven’t spilled much virtual ink on Strawberry Mansion, mostly because there hasn’t been much to write about in that neck of the woods. But with Brewerytown booming and projects proliferating on the edge of East Falls, developers are increasingly casting an eye toward Strawberry Mansion, drawn by tons of vacant land and (relatively, for now) low prices.
One vacant lot in the neighborhood is gone, however, as a new building is currently under construction at the corner of Ridge Avenue and Diamond Street. The triangular parcel at 3006 Ridge Ave. has been sitting vacant for about two decades, and boasted a very attractive mural called Promised Land, painted by John Sarantitis. The mural has been covered by the new construction, however, which will eventually contain five apartments. We suspect that the contemporary building will differentiate itself from the classic Diamond Street homes on the rest of the block.
While we’re here, we also want to direct your attention to a new duplex that was recently constructed across the street. 3007 Ridge Ave. is currently under contract at a $600K list price, with expected combined rents around $4K/mo. While this duplex is certainly an improvement over what was for years a vacant lot, we actually consider it to be a highly disappointing development, from an urban planning perspective.
You can see, the new building is surrounded on all sides by vacant lots. The northeastern corner of the intersection of 30th & Ridge contains 9 vacant lots, of which 6 are owned by City agencies and 3 are owned by different private owners. Together, these lots contain about 10K sqft. We would have liked to see the City purchase the three private lots along with 3007 Ridge Ave. (pre-duplex), to make a combined parcel that could have accommodated a couple dozen units as a matter of right. Crazy, right?
Given the increased developer interest in Strawberry Mansion, this could have even been an opportunity to consolidate the lots and sell the combined property for a nominal amount, with an eye toward producing an affordable housing development. But that’s likely off the table at this point, given the presence of a new building that will rent at decidedly unaffordable rates. It’s a bummer, and another indication that Philadelphia can’t figure out any sort of overriding strategy with the thousands of lots it continues to own all over town.