You’ll be forgiven if you’ve never visited the 1400 block of S. Taylor Street – or any block of Taylor Street, for that matter. For the uninitiated, Taylor is a north-south street which runs between 24th and 25th Streets, disappearing and reappearing with little rhyme or reason. It runs continuously between Mifflin and Oakford Streets in Point Breeze, and then makes a quick comeback between Aspen and Poplar in Fairmount, before showing up off Montgomery, and then again off Lehigh. We wonder whether the street might be named after famed general and 16-month US President Zachary Taylor, or perhaps it’s instead named for a famed Philadelphian who we don’t know about offhand.
But we digress, as we’re here today to consider the 1400 block of S. Taylor St., a block we most recently wrote about back in 2016. Back then, we referred to the recent history of the block, noting its “impressive” inventory of vacant lots, some of which were owned by the City and others in private hands. As a good indication of the state of affairs shortly before we wrote that story, take a look at this aerial view of the site from 2012:
With so much vacancy combined with continued and growing interest in Point Breeze, it came as no surprise, in 2016, to see several homes under construction on the block. Back then, those new homes were selling in the mid-to-high $300K range. In retrospect, those were some amazing deals. Construction has continued on the block, and by our count 19 new market-rate homes have risen on this block in the last several years. A little less than half of those homes have sold for over $400K, with the highest priced home selling for $455K.
As you can see in the aerial view from a decade ago, there were way more than 19 vacant lots on the block. And like we said, City agencies owned several of these lots as well. Currently, eight of those lots, no longer City-owned, are under construction. Those properties are getting two-story homes, all of which will be offered for rent at affordable prices. We told you that this project was coming back in 2016, and now it’s finally, belatedly, moving forward as part of a larger project from Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP), and Citizens Acting Together Can Help (CATCH). This project, dubbed the Mamie Nichols Homes, includes 33 total units scattered on this street and a few other blocks in the immediate area, with 2/3 of units being offered to families and the rest going to veterans.
This is a terrific idea, from where we sit, as it actively works to improve on the incredibly low supply of affordable rental properties that are in good condition. We prefer this approach over what feels like a much more common sight, the construction of affordable for-sale workforce housing units, which often include income requirements but lack asset requirements. It might have taken a few years longer than intended, but the Mamie Nichols homes will have tangible positive effects on the lives of dozens of Philadelphia residents, while helping a long neglected block come back from the edge. Here’s to hoping we see more projects like this in other gentrifying neighborhoods around Center City.