Scattered across the River Wards are countless industrial buildings which once represented, collectively, the engine that ran the “Workshop of the World.” The buildings we see today are all that’s left of a powerful industrial presence which reached its peak at the beginning of the 20th century, with many buildings having been demolished over the years, some repurposed for light industrial or residential use, and others left to rot. The industrial building at 1838 E. Huntingdon St. doesn’t fit into any of these categories, as it was constructed in 1951 and has been used for storage and light industrial purposes over the course of its entire life. It’s also worth noting that the building, unlike so many of other industrial buildings in the area, doesn’t really contribute much architecturally.

View of the building from Haazard Street
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View from Huntingdon Street

Developers purchased the building earlier this year, paying just shy of $1.9M. This is a pretty reasonable price to pay for this property, given its roughly 10K sqft footprint and its location in East Kensington. It’s still a bit wild to us that properties are trading at these price points just a block from Kensington Avenue, but as we’ve seen time and again, Fishtown’s energy has pushed through East Kensington and past Lehigh Avenue into Harrowgate and Port Richmond. So this price feels like the going rate, especially considering the IRMX zoning would allow for a residential project by right.

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The El on Kensington Avenue, a block away

You might think that a project here would entail the demolition of the existing building and the construction of something new. But that’s not the plan, folks. Instead, the developers are looking to construct an addition atop the existing building, turning this property into a six-story apartment building. The plans call for 52 units, with half of the first floor reserved for “artisan industrial space.” We think that means artist studios. The rest of the first floor will be dedicated to parking, to check the last box to make this project by right. Though the density will require a visit to Civic Design Review, that fact that the project has a zoning permit already gives us a strong sense that it’ll move forward.

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Another old industrial building across the street

Just across the street, at 1900 E. Huntingdon St., there’s a complex of old industrial buildings that have much more personality than the property described above. A portion of the property was converted to artist space and apartments a number of years ago. We wonder though, whether the project on the 1800 block and general changes in the neighborhood might spur something more significant here in the future. Such a project would likely mean demolition and new construction rather than an overbuild, which would be something of a shame, given that these buildings hold far more architectural value than their neighbor across the street. Of course, all of this is just speculation, as we haven’t heard anything about the properties at 1900 E. Huntingdon St. – at least not yet.