On 17th Street between Olive and Folsom Streets, there’s a roughly 8,000 sqft parcel that’s been sitting empty for as long as we can remember. New development have sprung up around this property though, with the Folsom Powerhouse project rising next door on the 1700 block of Folsom Street, and a new mixed-use building around the corner on the 1700 block of Fairmount Avenue. And yet 708-16 N. 17th St. has continued to sit vacant, aside from some trees and a few cars.

17th Aerial
Aerial view
17th View
View at 17th & Folsom

Looking the records for this property, we see the City owned the property once upon a time, and sold it to a company called Darrah Associates $670K in 1985. At that price and at that time, we have to think this parcel was part of a much larger sale. We know nothing about this company by the way, has anyone heard of them? By 1999, non-profit housing services company Friends Rehabilitation Program got the property for a nominal sum, we’d think with an eye toward affordable housing redevelopment. Whatever they planned for the property, nothing happened, and developers stepped in about a year ago. In the last few months, new developers bought the parcel and have been moving through the planning process of redeveloping the property.

Developers presented plans to the community in recent weeks to build a total of ten units on this parcel, with five homes on Olive Street, four homes and a duplex on Folsom Street, and a drive-aisle in the middle of the property, accessed from 17th Street. Landmark did the design work, and here’s a peek at an elevations drawing to give you an idea of what’s coming.

Olive Elevations
Elevations for the homes on Olive Street

The ZBA approved the project last week, so this property is poised to finally get redeveloped. One interesting point about this project- we’ve seen a ton of new construction in Francisville over the last few years, but much of it has been of the multi-family variety. Townhome developments like this are quite common in other neighborhoods, but we haven’t seen much of this kind of project in Francisville to date, because of permissive multi-family zoning in the neighborhood. But parts of the neighborhood were recently downzoned to eliminate by-right multi-family development, so this project may serve as a preview for future development in the area. For the sake of the neighborhood and the project itself, we hope it portends good things.

Disclosure: OCF Realty, parent company of Naked Philly, the broker for this project.