Lawrence Street has always been one of our favorites in Northern Liberties. It’s got a mix of older and newer homes, providing a sense of the neighborhood’s history, both distant and recent. It’s a north-south street but not a numbered street and because it dead ends at Brown Street it doesn’t typically experience much car traffic. Also, let’s not forget the log cabin on the 800 block. Like we said, great street all the way around.
Another feature of Lawrence Street is that it generally doesn’t have too much vacancy. What little vacancy there was has pretty much been wiped out by projects over the last few years, though at least one empty space has remained through it all. 963 1/2 – 969 N. Lawrence St. could be mistaken for the rear yards of homes on Leithgow Street, and maybe that’s exactly what these lots were back in the day. At least over the last decade, they’ve been sitting vacant and have been intermittently been overgrown. But not for long.
Developers bought these properties earlier this year, paying $500K. They have a plan to build three new homes here with parking, and will be presenting that plan to the NLNA zoning committee next week. We don’t know what the exact project will entail, but we can say with some certainty that the developers will have a bit of a challenge on their hands. The parcel is 50′ wide, which lends itself nicely to three new homes. Most of the parcel is 41′ deep, with the rest going back 45′. That’s pretty shallow for a residential building lot and will pretty much necessitate building four stories, especially when you consider the plans include garages. The developers will surely look to build as far back as possible, but you can see the adjacent homes on Leithgow Street come pretty close to the property line and it will be important to figure out a balance to make sure that all the homes have an acceptable amount of light and air.
It might take a couple bites at the apple, but we feel confident that the developers will ultimately get some version of this project supported by the community and approved by the ZBA. Once that happens and the new homes get built, Lawrence Street will be losing yet another vacancy. We get it that parking is tight in Northern Liberties, but we wonder whether the neighbors will support the garage plan or ask for a project without parking to increase the number of eyes on the street. Which would you rather see for a project on your block?