We found ourselves in Roxborough over the weekend, and some new construction on Roxborough Avenue, across the street from the Kendrick Rec Center, caught our eye. The project in question, at 492 Roxborough Ave., definitely demands attention, as it doesn’t exactly blend in with the surrounding buildings.

Looking up Roxborough Ave.
Building under construction

Then again, the buildings that stood here previously didn’t really match their surroundings either. Sure, they were twins, but they only rose two stories and one of them was converted to commercial use somewhere along the line.

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In the past

The developers that own this property are now in the process of replacing those two story buildings with a 27-unit apartment building which will have 1:1 parking on the first floor. The building really stretches further back than you might expect while walking up the street, and given the proximity to Ridge Avenue, the density feels quite appropriate. But there’s a little more to this story than just the construction of a new apartment building.

Project rendering

Looking at historical maps, the land upon which the apartment building is currently under construction was previously associated with the Grace Lutheran Church, located right next door. The church, which dates back more than a century but is not on the local historic register, fell out of use about ten years ago and seemed like a possible candidate for demolition. Its zoning for single-family use probably protected against that possibility, but you never know. Fortunately, the developers that bought the parcel weren’t looking to tear down the church, just the small buildings next door.

Former church next door

Meanwhile, they flipped the church to land design / civil engineering firm Ruggiero Plante. This company, whose signs hang from a sizable chunk of construction sites around town, has already moved from their offices in Manayunk to this location, doing only a little cosmetic exterior work and maintaining the building’s historic appearance. With an office conversion now complete, we imagine this building will maintain viability for years into the future, protecting a wonderful architectural component of Ridge Avenue. If only the same thing could have happened across the street.