The building at 1723 Francis St. sits in the middle of Francisville, at the intersection of Francis and Perkiomen Streets, where Francis Street curiously and dangerously switches directions from one-way moving northeast to one-way moving southwest. Why this continues to be the case and how there are not numerous head-on collisions here, we may never know. But we digress. This building, which has some terrific bones, was once known as the Tilden Home For Aged Couples, with this use dating back to the end of the 19th century. More recently, the building was used as a rooming house, perhaps with a focus on the elderly- we confess we aren’t sure.
We are sure that about a dozen years ago, developers had a plan to convert the property into condos, getting approval from the ZBA for 11 units with 11 parking spots. Maybe the project was ahead of its time. Perhaps the 2008 crash axed any potential for the project. Potentially, the developers weren’t the right folks for the job. Whatever the reason, the project never came to fruition. Now, however, something is pretty much guaranteed to change here in the near future.
Loonstyn Properties, a developer that’s done a ton of construction in this immediate area, bought this property at the end of 2018, paying a cool $1M. Shortly before the world turned upside down, they went to the ZBA and got a variance to redevelop this property, with plans for 24 units and 18 parking spots. The project calls for a partial demolition of the existing building, which we have to think will entail the elimination of the less than gorgeous stucco section of the building that’s visible from Perkiomen Street. It’s possible, but seems highly unlikely, that they’ll do anything to the attractive brick facades at the corner. Perhaps a 4th floor addition might be introduced, but that wouldn’t necessarily detract from the existing building.
Certainly, this project will add to the momentum in the area and on this particular block. You may recall, roughly two years ago, we told you that developers were looking to build a couple dozen homes on narrow Erdman and Bowers streets, both of which are only accessibly from the 800 block of Perkiomen Street (drink if you’ve ever seen another sentence with this many obscure Philadelphia Street names in it). That project was moving along nicely before construction closed down across the city, but from what we’re hearing things should be picking up again in the coming weeks. So look for this project to resume work soon, and with the variance granted across the street, figure something should be happening there as well at some point in the coming months.