For those living in Francisville, it isn't news that the eastern side of the 700 block of 20th Street is a mess, architecturally speaking. A handful of hundred year old homes are still standing on this block and those homes are owned by PHA and go all the way up to the sidewalk like normal homes. The vast majority of the homes on the block, though, were built as small for-sale affordable housing units in the 1980s, sitting on huge parcels. With the parcels being so big, the homes are set back and have yards or parking out front. But these properties are zoned multi-family and therefore represent tremendous development opportunities. As such, there's also a smattering of newer buildings which have replaced some of those former affordable housing units, and those are generally condoed out.
We've covered construction on this block intermittently over the years, first visiting in the summer of 2012 when developers were getting ready to build a quadplex next door to a vacant and blighted PHA building. Over time, we've seen some of the smaller homes get demolished and replaced, and that's continuing to this day. We see that developers are now tearing down 727 N. 20th St., with plans to build another multi-family building in its place. The image below shows that demolition effort along with some of the current architectural variety on the block.
And there's more coming. There are currently zoning notices posted at 753 and 755 N. 20th St., and plans are calling for quadplexes with two-car parking. We haven't seen the refusals but we'd guess that the density is allowed and the parking is triggering the refusal. If that's indeed the case, then it's a safe bet that these homes will soon get torn down and some more new construction will follow. And the block will become a little more of a mixed bag.
Given the pace of redevelopment on this block, we'd suspect that homeowners will continue to sell out to developers in the coming years and we'll continue to see condo buildings rise here. As some point in the future, as most or all of these older homes get replaced, the architecture on the block will seem like much less of a mish mash. It hardly seems possible right now, but we'd guess it'll happen sooner than later.