The future of a proposed development at 1021-25 S. 18th St. is in question after developer Vitaly Paluchenko presented his plans for the site for the second time last month to the SOSNA Zoning Committee. While this neighborhood has seen considerable redevelopment and tons of infill construction in recent years, these lots have remained empty. But if the developer has his way, three triplexes, designed by Harman Deutsch, will soon rise on the site.
For decades, the three lots were owned by different City agencies, which helps explain their long-term vacant state. The middle lot was owned by the Department of Public Property, and the developer purchased it for $114K back in 2010. The northern and southern lots were both owned by PHDC, which finally sold the lots for $200K in early 2012. And while the lots are still in the extremely desirable Graduate Hospital neighborhood, their very close proximity to Washington Avenue might also explain why developers have shied away from the arduous process of acquiring them from the City until the last couple of years.
As we stated above, the developer is hoping to construct three triplexes on this block, which contains almost exclusively single family homes at this time. When he presented to the community in March, the design was much improved over a previous iteration, with interesting choices for materials and a fourth-floor setback.
While some neighbors and members of the Zoning Committee were placated by the changes, many more were still frustrated by the height, the design, and particularly the density. With regard to the height and the design, we can’t say we agree- the third floor matches the cornice lines of the adjacent properties, and who ever said that all the homes on a block need to look alike?
On the density matter, we could go either way. The problem that neighbors seem to have relates to whether the units will quickly turn into rentals. By right, the developer could do duplexes at this location, each with three bedrooms. The developer contends that three bedroom condos are far more likely to turn into rentals than two-bedroom condo units, and that former situation would actually result in more humans living in each building. We can appreciate that the near neighbors would prefer owner occupants to transient renters who often don’t have the same stake in the neighborhood, but we honestly don’t know which model would be more likely to draw renters.
The project goes to the ZBA later this month, and how they’ll handle the project remains to be seen.