We recently spied a zoning permit, announcing some upcoming demolition on 16th Street in Francisville. Upon closer examination, we discovered that the plan will result in the demolition of two buildings at 721 and 723 N. 16th St. which have been used as triplexes for the last few decades and before that, rooming houses. We can’t say we’re shocked to hear about this upcoming demolition, as it’s been a bit of a running theme in this neighborhood, and even occurred immediately next door within the last couple years. In the case of 719 N. 16th St., developers tore down a rather dumpy stucco covered home and built a rather handsome quadplex in its place.

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In the past
Current view

While nobody will mourn the loss of the building at 719 N. 16th St., it’s definitely a shame that the buildings will be disappearing next door. 721 and 723 N. 16th St. don’t have too much fancy ornamentation, but they’re solidly built Philly row homes with intact cornices and handsome curved trim around the front doors. We should be clear though – we are bummed that these buildings will be demolished, but we don’t think they should be designated historic. With thousands of buildings in Philadelphia that are almost identical to these, the hardship that would be inflicted on the owners of the similar properties in the area would outweigh the benefit of protecting these buildings, at least in our estimation.

View of the two homes

While we will be sorry to see these buildings go, we will be quite pleased with what comes along to replace them. The zoning permit indicates that the developers will be consolidating the two properties into one and constructing a 10-unit apartment building. With the burgeoning Ridge Avenue commercial corridor just a block to the north, the additional density will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Also – given the height and the density here, we suspect the developers will be utilizing the low-income zoning bonus, and we expect that there will be a few affordable units as part of the project.

Across the street

Speaking of density (and affordable housing), just across the street to the south, we can provide an update on a project we covered before. The Philadelphia Housing Authority previously had a small office building at 710 N. 16th St., but we told you that developers bought the building back in 2019, after PHA consolidated its operations in a new facility in Sharswood. Stamm Development has built a 30-unit building here called “the HQ,” which looks like it’s just about ready to go. Like the project across the street, the additional density here will only help the nearby businesses that are starting to fill in the Ridge corridor, and perhaps encourage others to join the fray.