If you’ve ever driven through Fishtown or East Kensington, it’s possible you’ve found yourself junking up your alignment on the cobblestoned Trenton Avenue. The lack of traditional paving on this street gives a hint about its history, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know that Trenton Avenue had rail tracks running down its middle once upon a time, terminating at at a rail yard that’s now the site of the Kensington High School for the Creative Arts. Incidentally, those rail tracks went all the way to Trenton, hence the name of the street, and the remnants of that rail line were incorporated into the modern day Septa Regional Rail line to Trenton.
The first few blocks of Trenton Avenue were traditionally residential, but as it rumbled slowly but surely northward toward New Jersey, Trenton Avenue became increasingly industrial. And that’s still largely the case today with what’s left of the old Trenton Avenue, as warehouses and industrial buildings start multiplying as you get closer to Lehigh Avenue. Jacquin’s, makers of mostly mediocre brandies, cordials, and liqueurs, operates out of several old industrial buildings in this area. In addition, mixed in with the warehouses, there’s a small patch of vacant land at 2604 Trenton Ave. which has been sitting empty for many years.
You’ll notice, there are some zoning notices posted to this property, which gives a pretty good indication that the state of vacancy isn’t likely to persist. Developers bought this parcel for just shy of $400K earlier this year and are looking to subdivide the parcel into six lots and build six new homes. Though there are industrial buildings nearby, this use would actually be a throwback to the history of this property, where seven homes stood previously, many years ago. Yesterday at the ZBA, the developers got approval for this project, so look for it to move forward in the coming months.
With this residential project now moving forward, and some others that have gone up on nearby blocks in recent years, we imagine we’ll continue to see residential development on and around Trenton Avenue. The warehouse across the street was bought by developers a few years back and would seem like a strong candidate for adaptive reuse, and the same could be said for other buildings in the area. At some point, we wonder whether Jacquin’s will decide to sell off their sizable real estate assets and move to an area where land is less valuable. We’ve certainly seen that story play out in other neighborhoods where mixed-use has slowly but surely subsumed industrial use.