Holy moly, has the west side of the 1800 block of Frankford changed over the years. The transformation of this block, which has completely turned over since 2007, puts an incredibly fine point on what’s been happening on this corridor and in Fishtown in general during this time period. Honestly, looking at a photo from 2007 vs. a photo from today, it’s hard to believe it’s the same street and that so little time has passed.

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The view in 2007
Current view

Over the course of 14 years, every single building has been demoed on this block, save three. Two of those rehabs are located at the corner of Frankford & Berks, while the other is 1864 Frankford Ave., a one-story garage. This building has been home to Yorick & Sons Motorcycles for the last several years, but that business cleared out earlier this year and now the building is scheduled for demolition.

One story building has stuck around at 1864 Frankford Ave.

Next week, developers will present plans to Fishtown Neighbors Association for a five-story building here, with a restaurant on the first floor, an associated food court in the basement (don’t ask us how that’s different from a dining room), and 10 units on the upper floors. This project will require a variance for both height and density, since the underlying CMX-2 zoning would only permit a 3-4 story building and 5 units as a matter of right. We’ve complained for a long time about underzoning on Frankford Avenue and on other corridors in the city, and this is yet another example. A five-story, ten-unit building should be permitted here as a matter of right and shouldn’t need to deal with the risk and challenge of a community process for a project that makes all the sense in the world. Alas, we’ll hope that the project gets through the process unscathed, but there’s no guarantee that it moves forward in this form.

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Proposed building

While we’re here, let’s take a look next door and consider the five-story building next door that looks like it’s coming down the home stretch. You may recall, we told you about this building a couple years back, shortly after the car wash that had operated here for years had closed down. That building was constructed by right, using a fresh food zoning bonus which would no longer apply if someone wanted to build this project today.

Same number of stories next door

Assuming the project at 1864 Frankford Ave. gets the approvals the developers seek, it appears that the height of the building will line up well with its neighbor. We only regret that the rest of the newer buildings on the block won’t rise to the same height or provide the same density as these two projects. As we’ve noted many times, proximate density is the best thing for the vibrancy of commercial corridors, and this block is certainly leaving some units on the table, as it were. To be fair, Frankford Avenue is doing just fine, thank you very much, but it’s still frustrating to see the same inefficient outcomes time and time again, and in different parts of the city.