A reader reached out the other day, giving us the heads up that the properties at 101-109 Ellsworth St. are listed for sale. The list price is $1.2M, and the parcel certainly could represent an interesting development opportunity. Developers have built new homes along the 100 block of Ellsworth Street over the last several years, and around the corner, the 100 block of Alter Street has filled in similarly. The parcel could accommodate 7 new homes, each 17′-wide, though such a project would definitely require a variance from the ZBA. Still, the market has proven that there’s demand for new homes in this immediate area, with comps trading around $600K. Plus, Rizzo Rink is right across the street and everyone loves ice skating.

Properties for sale
Rizzo Rink under I-95

There are some immediate problems with this particular opportunity, and another problem may be lurking in the wings. The first problem is the price. We’d say the asking price is on the high side, maybe by a couple hundred thousand dollars. It’s possible that some developers are able to build new homes with garages for less than we can, but we don’t see the potential profit being worth the risk for this property at the current price.

The second problem doesn’t involve the redevelopment of the property, but how it’s currently used. This collection of buildings has been used for social services as Southwark House for over a hundred years. Today, Southwark House is connected to United Communities of Southeast Philadelphia, and provides social service programs, especially assisting a low income population. We don’t know whether Southwark House is closing or relocating, as we couldn’t connect with someone at UCSEP to get an answer on the subject, but we’ll hope for the latter. Even if it’s the former, UCSEP has another facility at 8th & Ritner, so it’s not like the organization is going away. Still, it would be a big loss for the community.

Another possible hurdle, though seemingly remote, is the chance that part of the property could be nominated to the Historic Register. None of the properties seem especially worthy of preservation to our eyes, but more serious research might bear out that they possess some historical relevance. Especially in this part of town, where some of the buildings are quite old, you can’t rule out such a possibility.