Will a Pair of Six-Unit Buildings Replace an Old Brewerytown Garage?

The 1500 block of N. 28th St. presents an interesting microcosm of the rapidly changing state of Brewerytown. The eastern side of the street is a mix of older homes, garages, and a few sizable vacant lots, while the western side of the block offers a mostly intact collection of older homes, many of which possess some wonderful original architectural details. But changes are happening on both sides, with a triplex under construction on the east side of the block, and a duplex with an unfortunate 3rd story setback moving along on the west side. If you’ve been following the Brewerytown story over the last several years, it should come as no surprise that even more change is in the offing.

East side of the block
Homes on the west side of the block

In looking at the ZBA calendar, it came to our attention that 1515 N. 28th St. could soon get redeveloped. The property is currently a ragged old garage that stretches 155′ to Marston Street. Given the pace of development in this part of town and keen interest from home buyers and renters alike, a garage doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense anymore at this location.

It's the garage on the right

So what does make sense? According to the developers, who bought the property less than two years ago for the low low price of $85K, it makes sense to build a pair of six unit buildings, with one fronting 28th Street and the other fronting Marston. The parcel is zoned for single-family use and the project will therefore need to go to the ZBA, which is why it appeared on the ZBA calendar and came to our attention in the first place.

In a vacuum, we would expect tough sledding for this kind of project, as we don’t necessarily see much of a hardship and in our experience community groups tend to push back against more density than the code permits. On the other hand, we mentioned a duplex and a triplex getting ZBA approval on this very block, with the triplex getting approved immediately next door. If the ZBA approved a triplex on a lot that’s half as wide, why wouldn’t a six-unit building work next door? Guess we’ll wait and see how it plays out. Fortunately for the developers, they can always subdivide the parcel by right and build four homes- and since they bought the parcel at such a great price, just about any outcome here will be favorable for them.