We’re not telling you anything you don’t already know when we say that Fishtown is one of the most desirable neighborhoods that ring Center City. Because so many people want to live in Fishtown, it’s getting to a point that the neighborhood isn’t nearly as affordable as it once was. Hence, we’ve seen an explosion in development in the surrounding neighborhoods, like East Kensington, and South Kensington, and a growing momentum in Port Richmond. As Fishtown has continued to thrive, developers have looked for opportunities with projects on the edges of the neighborhood, which explains the dramatic improvement we’ve seen on Front Street in recent years. This thinking could also apply to Richmond Street, which is pinched between I-95 and Delaware Avenue.
We’ve seen a few projects come down the pike for Richmond Street over the years, with the most prominent being the 18-home development that stretches from Richmond to Allen Street, on the site of the former Kissling sauerkraut factory. Those homes have all sold, at prices that approached the mid-$500K range.
Looking at public record, it appears that Kissling also owned a garage at 114 Richmond St., just down the street from the old factory. This one-story building was purely functional, and didn’t add anything to the streetscape of the block.
As you might expect, the sauerkraut people sold their garage just like they sold their factory, with developers paying roughly $180K for the property. Oddly, it was only zoned for single family use, but the developers took the property to the ZBA with a plan for 5 apartments, a retail space on the first floor, and a pair of parking spaces. And they got approval. As you might expect, these days the old garage is looking a little different than it did previously.
According to one of the guys working at the site, the retail space will be an office, which isn’t terribly exciting, but is still an upgrade over a blank garage door. While the commercial use won’t be a game changer, we don’t see that as a big deal, as the property is located just half a block off Frankford Avenue, with the Fillmore and its associated businesses at the end of the street. As for the apartments, we don’t know whether they’ll will be rentals or condos, but we’d be inclined to expect condos, given the small size of the project and the fact that there’s demand in Fishtown for lower-priced units. Either way, this project will be a step up for this property and another clear indication that development at the margins of Fishtown works all day long.