A reader reached out last week, wondering about some new zoning noticed they’d noticed on the east side of the 800 block of N. 15th Street in Francisville. These notices are posted on a pair of large vacant lots on either side of a building that went up in the last year or so.
These are not your standard zoning notices. To wit, here’s the content of one of them, at 825 N. 15th St.:
PERMIT FOR 21, 22, 23, 24, 28 & 29] AND TO ERECT SIX (6) ATTACHED STRUCTURES FOR THE USE OF SINGLE HOUSEHOLD LIVING UNITS, WITH ACCESSORY OFF-STREET PARKING PROPOSED [AT PARCELS 28 & 29]. SIZE AND LOCATION AS PER SUBMITTED PLANS.
Most of this notice makes sense. Developers are planning six new homes here, two of which will have a parking spot. But what’s with the numbers 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, and 29 at the beginning of the notice? Looking at the zoning notice at 815 N. 15th St., we see that it also references a collection of numbers as it begins. Our first instinct was that these projects are part of a larger development. And we were correct!
The Redevelopment Authority has had ownership over these lots for many years, and public record indicates that it still does. But if we look at the board minutes from the February PRA meeting, we see that there’s an agreement to sell these lots, among others, to BMK Homes with an eye toward workforce housing. You may recall, BMK undertook a similar project on Marshall Street on the edge of Northern Liberties. And it worked out so nicely, they’re running it back in Francisville, with a 32 home development that will not only cover the vacant lots pictured above but will also fill in a long vacant field on the western side of this block.
Per the meeting minutes, the rules for these homes will be the same as the rules for the Marshall Street homes. Maximum sale prices will be $230K and buyers are restricted to earning less than 120% of the average median income. That’s an annual income of under $88K, roughly, according to a release from the PRA.
As we’ve said before, we strongly support mixed-income neighborhoods, as they add to the vibrancy of our urban fabric. Compared to previous home ownership affordable housing that we’ve seen, subsidized by federal dollars, the BMK workforce housing seems like a step in the right direction as we believe it’s only subsidized by a low acquisition cost. As it seems the homes were a big hit on Marshall Street and given this developer’s track record, we suspect these homes will be a positive development for the area. Certainly, these properties have been sitting vacant for long enough.