For serving as the nexus of several neighborhoods and two of the major roads in the area, the intersection of Frankford & Lehigh doesn’t feel very dramatic. It wasn’t until just a few years back that the large Kensington Courts complex joined the corner, which also includes a gas station, the sadly shuttered Kensington Community Food Co-op, and our focus today, the NW corner at 2001 E. Lehigh Ave., currently home to a vibrantly colored Joel’s Tire Shop. We actually told you about this very property back in 2017, when it was available for sale, though nothing has materialized, and the shop has remained. But as this is less of a used tire blog and more of a real estate blog, you can imagine where this one is going. Let’s head to the corner to check out the scene today.
With a recent East Kensington Neighborhood Association meeting complete and an upcoming trip to the Civic Design Review ahead in September, we can now tell you all about the mixed-use plans for the property. Taking up the entire property between Frankford Ave., Lehigh Ave., Emerald St. to the west and the rail tracks to the north, we can expect a six-story, 157-unit apartment building to rise here. 59 below-grade parking spaces will be topped by two ground floor commercial spaces, both in the 4K sqft range. The look is somewhat muted and contemporary, with a green roof topping off the mid-rise structure. In perhaps the biggest design feature, there will be a cut-away at the back of the building, seemingly allowing for a connection to the rail bridge and a potential future trail.
We have to say, this one caught us somewhat by surprise, and in a good way. This intersection currently, to use technical jargon, completely sucks. This corner feels foreboding with the decrepit building and dark tunnel heading north under the tracks. And while this project won’t directly impact the traffic lanes close by, more pedestrians and cars turning into and out of the garage (and ride share services picking up future residents) should lead to a natural calming of the cars whizzing by. Or so we hope, because there is plenty of other action close by.
Along Lehigh Ave., the Penn Reading’s 21 units are finishing up close by. Just to the east of that, the Pump House will add yet another 278 partments across its multiple buildings. Along Frankford Ave., the Coral House is underway, bringing 41 more units to this suddenly busy intersection. And in what would be the biggest addition to the area, 454 units are planned in the large Woods Brothers lot just steps to the south.
As for that last project, we’ve heard basically nothing since we last checked in a few years ago, but we are hopeful that this isn’t dead quite yet. While seeing what we could see, the architect’s LinkedIn profile proudly lists this site at the top of the current project heap, leading us to believe that this proposal may indeed still be percolating in the background. If it is, this would bring the unit count in the immediate vicinity to right around 950, a mind-boggling number when considering the paucity of new development in these parts not too long ago. Will we see this most recent proposal move forward, given the current lending environment? We couldn’t tell you, but we can tell you that there sure seems to be no stopping the Fishtown/Kensington/Olde Richmond development boom.