Point Breeze Avenue has seen some small improvements over the last few years, but it's still a very long way from reaching its potential as a vibrant commercial corridor. As we've pointed out many times in the past, the base zoning on Point Breeze Avenue makes its continued improvement all the more challenging.
Allow us to put a very fine point on it: With much of the corridor zoned CMX-2, height, density, and open air requirements pretty much allow for ground-floor retail and two upstairs apartments for a regularly sized parcel. Because retail rents remain very low on the corridor, the performance of any mixed-use development on Point Breeze Avenue relies almost exclusively on residential rents. Unfortunately, with construction costs being what they are, there's virtually no by-right new construction project that makes economic sense. We've argued to upzone Point Breeze Avenue to CMX-2.5 in the past, which would allow for more height and density and would likely expedite improvements along Point Breeze Avenue, but that has not happened.
This brings us to 1245 Point Breeze Ave., a corner property that we brought to your attention a couple months back, shortly before a well-attended community meeting. OCF Holdings has the property under agreement and has a plan for a ground-floor grocery paying a nominal rent number with fifteen apartments on the three stories above. Design work comes from Toner Architects, and the renderings are from Designblendz.
Point Breeze objectively has a food access problem, with no grocery stores located in the community and corner stores offering a very limited supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. While a small grocery store at this corner wouldn't solve these problems by any means, it would certainly be an important step in the right direction. At the community meeting for this project, some neighbors brought up concerns about traffic, density, and parking, but it seemed that the room was generally in support of the project because of the grocery store element. We were then surprised to learn that the vote went in opposition to the project.
With that being the case, it's entirely unclear which way the ZBA will rule. If you live in the neighborhood, like the project, and have some spare time today, perhaps you'd be interested in making a visit to the ZBA hearing. The ZBA meets at 1515 Arch St. on the 18th floor and the project is first on the 2pm agenda.
Disclosure: OCF Realty is the parent company of OCF Holdings and Naked Philly.