Checking in on Two Blocks of Capitol Street in Francisville

Last fall, we brought you to little Capitol Street to check out a new residential project. Located just west of 20th St. and accessible from Fairmount Ave., Capitol disappears after two blocks, apparently never to return (though we confess we stopped looking at Chelten Ave.). Today, we return to this street to update you on one project and bring a couple of others to your attention.

First, we look at 713 N. Capitol St., a property which was already demolished last November. In case you don’t remember, this entire block consists of low-rise homes originally constructed by PHA a couple of decades ago. These homes are unfortunate, to be kind. And while you can argue that the new building that’s gone up violates the architectural rhythm of the block, we would argue that the homes on this block look awful and anything that breaks the existing rhythm is a big win.

Look of the block
The new building

No, it’s not an architectural triumph. We wish there wasn’t parking in the front, and we’d love to see a cornice. And a little less stucco perhaps. But if this is a start for this block, hopefully the next guys that build here kick it up a notch. On the other hand, the fact that all three condos in this building sold for the full asking price after sitting on the market for less than a month might be an indication that this is exactly what condo buyers in Francisville are looking for.

A block to the north, the 800 block of Capitol Street looks much more like a standard Philly block of rowhomes. Heading up this block, we noticed two projects in different stages of construction. 826 N. Capitol St. was a vacant lot for a long time, and was purchased by a developer earlier this year for about $95K. They’re in the process of building a single family home that would likely sell quickly or rent easily.

Looks narrow but it's a 16' wide home

Pretty much across the street, Emerald Properties will soon be demolishing an existing two-story home at 813 Capitol St., to replace it with another single-family home. The ZBA granted a variance for this project, designed by KJO Architecture, a couple of weeks ago, and we’d expect that the demolition will soon be underway.

It’s true that Francisville is abuzz with larger-scale projects on Fairmount, Ridge, and in various pockets of the neighborhood. But stretches like Capitol Street show you that one-off development is going strong in this neighborhood as well, with smaller developers hammering away at building on vacant lots and replacing vacant properties. And based on the success that we noted at the first project, the buyers appear to be lining up.