We had an errand to run in Chestnut Hill the other day, and figured we’d take the scenic route, taking Germantown Avenue through Mount Airy. We confess, we don’t find ourselves in this area all that often, but we suspect we’ll be spending more time in these parts moving forward, given the amount of ongoing development activity. One fine example can be found at 6552 Germantown Ave., where three buildings are currently being demolished.

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 At 11.52.18 AM
In the past

From what we can tell, these buildings were once home to a dry cleaner and a tux shop, but they’ve been vacant for a few years and were looking pretty rough before demolition started. Architecturally, they were pretty interesting, with what we’d describe as a pitched roof at the front and faded wooden details on the facades. We imagine that these buildings looked like they were transported from a commercial corridor in Germany back in the day, but they’ve taken a bit of a beating over the years and soon they’ll be but a memory.

Demolition ongoing
View from the other direction

We wondered whether this demolition might be a precursor to a larger project, given the presence of a surface parking lot next door. In addition, a new building arrived on the scene just down the street in the last couple years, with 67 apartments and a grocery store replacing an auto shop. While that project sits on a larger lot and can therefore accommodate more density, we figured that four stories could at least be in the cards for the demolition site.

Newer building nearby

It turns out that the parking lot is staying where it is, as it’s owned and actively used by Catering By Design, located around the corner of Hortter Street. So the owners of 6552 Germantown Ave. don’t have as much space to work with as we expected, and the project is accordingly smaller than we anticipated. Instead of four stories that go to the corner, look for three stories on a triple-wide lot. The new building will have ten units and retail on the first floor. Designblendz did the architecture work, so check out what’s coming:

Project rendering

In many ways, we’d argue that this building will fit in much better with the surrounding fabric than the big new building on the other side of Hortter Street. In general, we’re not so sensitive to architectural context of nearby buildings, but this property sits in the donut hole of Germantown Avenue that’s after the Germantown Historic District and before the Chestnut Hill Historic District, so we think it’s a little more relevant here than in other places. And with this property sitting in the Beggarstown section of Mount Airy, there’s plenty of local history at play as well, so a little extra sensitivity feels warranted.