A New Hole in the Ground at 13th & Kater

You don’t have to have an amazing memory to remember when the stretch of 13th Street just below South was an embarrassing mix of blight and vacancy. The building on the southwest corner of 13th & South had amazing bones, but looked like garbage, with a boarded up first floor space. The southeast corner was a big empty lot for a long time. The northeast and northwest corners of 13th & Kater were home to a couple of blighted buildings, and those structures both got torn down maybe a decade ago.

If you visit this area today, the turnaround is immediately apparent. The building on the southwest corner of 13th & South got rehabbed a couple years ago and the confusingly named but otherwise excellent Sansom Kabob House occupies the ground floor space. Across the street, PRDC Properties bought the long vacant parcel from a Florida-based blightlord and built a mixed-use building on South Street and some high-end homes on the Kater Street side of the property. Through all this, the northwest corner of 13th & Kater has remained vacant, though it has gotten some use as a surface parking lot.

In the past

We were a little surprised, the other day, when we passed by the property and noticed a new hole in the ground. Looking into the hole, we saw footers for two structures, dashing our hopes for a larger building on this fairly prominent corner.

Current view

So we looked at the permits, and saw that the owners of this property went to the ZBA back in 2016 to get permits to build a pair of four-story homes with garages. They needed variances not only for the garages, but also because the parcel is zoned CMX-2, for some reason. We would have expected multi-family zoning here, but since when does the zoning map in Philadelphia make any sense? Anyway, we think an apartment building would be wholly appropriate at this location, but it ain’t our property and therefore ain’t our call. Instead, we’ll see a couple new homes, similar to the homes next door in that they’ll rise four stories and have garages.

Looking west on Kater St.

Architecturally though, we’ll hope that these new homes take some cues from the homes built by PRDC across the street. Those came out really nicely.

Fancy new homes across the street

Given that those homes sold at prices around $1.5M, we imagine the developers working on the homes on the northwest corner might want to imitate more than just the facades.