To state the obvious, Francisville has changed considerably since 2009. Back then, Inga Saffron wrote a story about the neighborhood, and started it thusly: “Francisville is by no means one of Philadelphia’s hottest places to live — at least not yet. Plenty of people have never heard of the modest rowhouse neighborhood wedged between fashionable Fairmount and comatose Ridge Avenue.”
What a difference eight years makes. Francisville has seen a staggering number of projects since 2009, with new homes and condos galore filling in vacant lots or replacing older buildings. And Ridge Avenue has awoken, with over a dozen new buildings dotting the nascent commercial corridor. Through all the changes in the neighborhood, there has been one constant, and that’s a vacant 1.5 acre triangular parcel at 19th & Wylie.
Back in 2009, per that aforementioned Inga Saffron story, the City was looking to sell off this parcel and was deciding between two proposals. Onion Flats wanted to build a 70-unit condo building with underground parking, and their proposal included a community garden on the eastern side of the property. The Hankin Group, which has primarily operated in the ‘burbs, had a concept for a mix of 69 townhomes and condos ringing the block, with a parking courtyard in the middle. The community overwhelming voted in support of the Onion Flats proposal, but the City selected Hankin Group as the developer. Remarkable in retrospect, they paid $900K for the property. On the open market today, the property would easily and quickly sell for millions.
In 2013, as the Francisville boom was beginning, we wrote about the parcel and wished for something happen here sooner rather than later. It took four years, but it seems like our wish could soon come true. According to a story from Plan Philly, Hankin Group has reengaged on the project and things are looking promising. The neighborhood is significantly changed compared to eight years ago, and the developers are altering their project, perhaps as a result. The new plan eliminates the townhome aspect, and includes 66 condo units, with a mix of one, two, and three bedroom units. It will also mean a significant retail space and 19th & Wylie. The initial plan for parking in the middle of the triangle will be retained in this new iteration. Plan Philly shared several renderings from ISA, which we will now pass along to you:
Hankin Group is working with the City to rezone the property, and seeing the new batch of renderings, we believe they’re intent on finally moving forward with a project for this site. There are still many issues to work out, including that pesky rezoning, deed restrictions attached to the property as part of the sale eight years ago, and a community benefits agreement that’s surely in need of revision. Still, we’re optimistic that all of that will get worked out and we wouldn’t be surprised to see construction get started before the end of the year. Or maybe early next year. But definitely by 2025. Probably.