Twenty Five Homes Next to the 25th Street Viaduct?

We were perusing the zoning calendar the other day and were suddenly reminded of a project we’d heard about half a year ago, next to the 25th Street Viaduct. The project in question is planned for 1500 S. 25th St., a roughly 30K sqft parcel that runs for the 400 feet between Dickinson and Tasker Streets. According to the zoning application, the owners are looking to build a building with twenty-five units with parking on this parcel, and we’re pretty sure that means town homes. We snagged some photos of the property yesterday in the late afternoon light, and you can see that it’s crying out for improvement.

View from under the tracks
View on Dickinson
View on Tasker St.

We’re having a bit of a hard time with figuring out the logic behind this project. We’ve seen considerable development activity in Point Breeze in the last decade or so, and some of that construction has started to spread to the west, crossing the viaduct, into Grays Ferry. But we haven’t seen any projects this large. We have seen another project right up to the viaduct, the Streamline project at 25th & Federal. That project is different from this one though, not only because it’s happening several blocks to the north, but because most of the units will be located off the viaduct, on Federal or Manton Streets. For the 1500 S. 25th St. project, on the other hand, we believe all the homes will have frontage toward the viaduct. That doesn’t seem like an amazing selling point.

On Front Street near South Kensington, we’ve seen several new projects rise under the El, which creates a similar condition as the 25th Street viaduct. Most of those projects have been apartment buildings, with retail on the first floor. And that seems to make sense, as you can more easily imagine renting out apartments next to the El or a viaduct than you can picture selling high end new homes. In addition, especially on Front Street, the apartments result in additional density that helps maintain nearby commercial corridors. This is a long way of saying that we’re surprised about a plan for homes here, and would have sooner expected a large apartment building.

Giant cross and community garden across the street

On the plus side, there’s a large vacant lot immediately to the north which has been functioning as one of the biggest community gardens in town for the last year or two. Lest you think that the development at 1500 S. 25th St. might inspire additional residential development on that parcel, we’ll remind you that it’s owned by a church which plans to eventually build a new home on the parcel. When that eventually happens, the community garden will have to find a new home. Probably safe to say that the homes next to the viaduct will stick around, even after the garden moves away.