There aren’t so many immediately recognizable development opportunities in Center City, but last year, a sign at 251 N. 12th St. really drove the point home.

View of the property from last year

We brought this property to your attention, encouraging anyone and everyone to buy it and build something. The property has some good things going for it, like its location close to the middle of town and the fact that the zoning would allow for a five-story building by right. With a list price of $275K though, it’s evident that the property comes with some challenges. First, the property is much slimmer than you might prefer, with a width of only about 12 feet. As we’ve commented many times in the past, for a single family home you ideally want at least 16′ of width, and this becomes even more important with an apartment building. While its location is good in terms of what’s close by, it sits right on the Vine Street Expressway which is far from ideal. Finally, the redevelopment of this property will mean the elimination of a pretty great mural.

Taking all of these things into account, Callahan Ward bought the property last summer, paying a little under the asking price. They’re now moving forward with a plan for a four-story building with 7 apartment units. They’re calling the project Chinatown Lofts and are using mezzanine levels to add living space to the units on the 1st and 2nd floors, and generous bay windows to add additional space beyond the dimensions of the property. Still, these units are gonna be really tight.

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 At 10.58.29 AM
Project rendering
Screen Shot 2017-08-16 At 10.58.32 AM
View of the highway at sunset
Screen Shot 2017-08-16 At 10.58.44 AM
Elevations drawing

This is a challenging site indeed, but we have faith that this developer will be able to produce a quality development. We have a feeling that these are going to be condo units, and we’ll be keen to see what kind of prices the developer can command, given the location and the unusual apartment layouts. And while we’ll miss the mural, we’re at least pleased to see a worthwhile building will get built on this site which has long been underused as a surface parking lot.