Despite concerns around population decline in the city, new homes are popping up all over the place. At 101-09 Ellsworth St., five houses have recently wrapped up construction immediately across the street from the Rizzo Rink skating center that sits under I-95 in Pennsport. We actually visited this site a couple of times before, including most recently in December 2019, when were got word of an impending demolition for the former Southwark House, which provided social services to the community for decades. But as you can see today, these houses are just about wrapped for this corner property that sits in the shadows of the highway across the street.

Rizzo Rink offers ice skating under I-95 across the street
A look at the driveway entrance along S. Front St.
A look at the old plans for behind Giant

The five houses are brought to us by Urban Real Estate Investment Inc., a developer that has developed similar projects in the neighborhood. To procure a zoning variance which allowed for the demolition of the existing structures and the construction of these five houses, it appears that architect Heta Designs made a change from their initial proposal. Originally slated to feature front-accesses garages, the revised project has just one curb cut, accessible from Front Street, in lieu of five curb cuts along the much smaller Ellsworth. We applaud the designers for limiting the impact on the pedestrian experience while still incorporating parking for these four-bed/four-bath homes that currently sport seven-figure price tags. Let’s take a closer look.

The corner of S. Front & Ellsworth at our last visit in December 2019

Given the rapid residential changes to this neighborhood (among many, many others), these million-dollar prices seem in line with the market, despite the looming highway structure close by. Philadelphia’s more central neighborhoods are still seeing price increases, despite the macro population trends we alluded to earlier and a challenging interest rate environment. Things are obviously heading this way in Pennsport as well.

We could see this area become even more attractive if the Riverview Plaza development (which was recently repurchased by original developer Bart Blatstein) on the other side of 95 sees some changes. The movie theater sits empty and there isn’t much around besides the Staples, so even minor changes could make a major impact here. And with the recent news that the large property with over 800 units proposed behind the new Giant supermarket is for sale, perhaps we’ll see even more changes in this neck of the woods in the coming years.