Because Philadelphia has been around for so long, there are countless real estate quirks that have survived over the years as the city has evolved. We’ve covered some of them in the past, like the recessed home on the 2100 block of Fitzwater, or Harkens Place in Bella Vista. One oddity that we see play out pretty often is the ‘rear property’ phenomenon. What we mean by this is that some addresses occur twice in this town, with a primary address and a rear address representing two discrete properties owned by two different parties. A fine example of this can be found in Fishtown where 1323 E. Montgomery Ave. is a single family home and 1323R E. Montgomery Ave. is a large flag lot where developers hoped to build half a dozen new homes. In Point Breeze, different developers are looking to develop a different rear property.

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It's an odd property

1140 S. 15th St. is a three story building with a day care on the first floor. 1140R S. 15th St. is a roughly 1,500 sqft vacant lot that sits behind the aforementioned building, and even though it has a 15th Street address, it is only accessible from Hicks Street. Yeah, there’s absolutely no frontage on 15th Street whatsoever. So that’s… confusing. Developers bought the property a couple years back and will be coming to an East Point Breeze Neighbors meeting next month to present a plan to build a six-unit building. That may seem a little aggressive for this parcel, which is zoned for a single-family home, but if you consider that the rest of the block is mostly parking for the homes on 15th Street and Sydenham Street, an apartment building makes some sense.

Looking north on Hicks Street
Lot at the end of the block

Looking at historic maps, it’s clear that this property once housed stables, ostensibly for the people living around the corner on 15th Street. Without some serious research, we won’t be able to say when the rear property became unbundled from the front property, and we also don’t know why the City didn’t insist on giving the property a Hicks Street address. All of these incidentals notwithstanding, an apartment building would be a great improvement over the current state of affairs. We so wonder though, whether the community will push for first floor parking and/or less density, given the numerous curb cuts on the block and the relatively small size of the property.