Out of Place Duplex Framed on 19th Street

About thirty years ago, the Philadelphia Housing Authority tore down all the homes on the western side of 19th Street just north of Fairmount Avenue, and built a collection of less-than-attractive one-story buildings with front yards. The affordable housing units had deed restrictions which prevented their sale to individuals who didn't meet certain income thresholds, but those restrictions expired after a couple of decades. Now, with the explosion of development in Francisville, many folks who bought these homes back in the day have an opportunity for a tremendous windfall.

We covered an example of this a couple of years ago, when an older home was demolished and replaced with a new three-story duplex. This created some controversy in the neighborhood, with some neighbors concerned about gentrification and others upset that the new building disrupted the flow of the block. The building does indeed stick out, both in terms of height and depth, as you can see below.

First duplex on the block

Last fall, we told you about plans for a second duplex on the block. At that point, we speculated that the design would be the same as the previous duplex. We were, it seems, mistaken.

The new duplex

Looking down the block

Unlike the previous duplex, this structure seems to be making more of an effort to blend in, if such a thing is possible. The entire building is set back from the street at the same distance as the homes on either side. As is prescribed by the zoning code, the third floor is set back eight feet. But let's not kid ourselves. If the first building is 100% out of place on this block, the new one is perhaps about 85% out of place. And we don't think that's a bad thing, exactly, considering the appearance of the other homes on the block.

If wagering on such things were legal, we'd bet that more homes on this block will soon meet a similar fate. And if you think the block looks crazy now, imagine what it will look like with another four or five three story homes mixed in.