New Apartment Building Stands Out on Parrish Street

We were traveling up 16th Street through Francisville yesterday, and some new construction caught our eye on the 1500 block of Parrish Street. A new building is still getting framed out at 1533 Parrish St., and it’s clearly visible from Ridge Avenue.

View from 16th & Ridge

Upon further consideration, we’ve covered this property in the past. A couple times, actually. Way back in the summer of 2011, the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale was planning to relocate to a building on this block and part of that plan called for the demolition of 1533 Parrish St. and its conversion into a surface parking lot. That plan ultimately fell through, with the Boys Choir moving to a space near Broad & Spring Garden and the proposed choir building getting converted into apartments. As such, 1533 Parrish St. stuck around.

The view, earlier this year

At the beginning of this year though, we shared the news that new developers had purchased the property and were moving forward with a plan to finally demolish the building. At the time though, we didn’t know what they were planning to do here, as they hadn’t yet pulled permits. Without looking at the permits, you can see they’re building an apartment building. But we did look at the permits, and we learned that the building will have retail on the first floor and 27 residential units across the rest of the building. Interestingly, the structure runs all the way back to Ogden Street, with the developers opting for a large side yard instead of a rear yard. This affords them a third wall of windows, which allows for the high unit count on a relatively small parcel.

View on Parrish St., from the east
Clearer view, from the west
Property goes all the way back to Ogden Street

The developers are building this project by right, and are able to include so many units because of the provision in the zoning code that increases the permitted unit count when a developer includes a green roof. The zoning permit indicates something we didn’t know before, that the green roof bonus requires a deed restriction on the property which requires continued maintenance of the green roof during the life of the building and allows the City to inspect the roof as desired. With drones now becoming more prevalent, we wonder whether that second provision is truly necessary. While we’re wondering about things, is it legal for the City to check out your property using a drone?