Historically, Point Breeze Avenue was a hugely important commercial corridor for the neighborhood, with so many types of stores that residents didn’t have to go to Center City to do their shopping. Over time though, Point Breeze Avenue experienced a significant decline, consistent with the trend in the rest of the neighborhood. As Point Breeze has seen an unprecedented amount of new construction over the past several years though, the potential of a refreshed commercial corridor has become more and more apparent. As such, we’ve seen several new businesses open, like (shameless plug) OCF Coffee House, On Point Bistro, Tuck Barre & Yoga, and Mattei Family Pizza.
Next door to the pizza place mentioned above is 1262 Point Breeze Ave., a corner building that’s been sitting vacant for a good number of years. The most recent business to occupy this building was a neighborhood sporting goods store, but they’ve been gone for at least a decade. Since then, the building’s owners haven’t been the best stewards. A 2nd floor window fell out of the building at some point and was never replaced, and we seem to remember that the building went to sheriff’s sale a few years back. But things should soon change for this property. As we were walking through the neighborhood over the weekend, we spied a zoning notice on the building, giving us a good indication that it will soon get redeveloped.
The plans for the property are quite simple. The zoning notice indicates that the owners will demolish a part of the building and will rebuild it so that it’s a three-story building across its entire footprint. The bottom floor will contain a vacant commercial space, and there will be two units on the upper floors. This is a reasonable, if unexciting path forward for this building, and we’re pretty sure the only reason it needs to go to the ZBA is that it won’t have the required amount of open space.
We’ve lamented for awhile that the pace of commercial development on Point Breeze Avenue is seriously lagging the pace of residential development in the surrounding neighborhood. That’s got something to do with the fact that a critical mass of residential development is needed to support businesses on the corridor, a point we’ve made many times on Ridge Avenue in Francisville. But in Francisville, we’ve seen countless new buildings get built, with new retail spaces simply waiting for new businesses. In Point Breeze, on the other hand, we’ve seen a very limited number of new projects on the corridor.
The difference, of course, is zoning. Ridge Avenue is zoned CMX-2.5 which allows greater height and density by right. Point Breeze Avenue is zoned CMX-2, which is nearly impossible to redevelop without a trip to the ZBA. If only Point Breeze Avenue were remapped, we believe we’d see considerable new construction on the corridor, resulting in additional density and new commercial amenities in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, we don’t imagine this will happen anytime soon, which will mean continued incremental progress for this corridor in the coming years.