Drive on Lehigh Avenue, and it’s nearly impossible to miss the huge, muraled wall that sits just past Tulip St. at 2157 E. Lehigh Ave., near the convergence of Fishtown, Kensington and Port Richmond. This hulking wall sits immediately adjacent to Lehigh Ave., with nary a sidewalk separating it from the paved lanes of traffic. We were here back in 2019, when we told you about plans for four buildings to rise as part of a mixed-use project. Things have remained mostly the same since then, but a recent visit revealed plenty of action at the site.

Aerial gives a better idea of what's to come
View of the mural looking north from E. Lehigh & Tulip
A closer look at the football field-sized mural
The view from Tulip St. shows an excavator clearing the site

So, what’s to come? This four-building project has received both zoning and building permits, so it should be all systems go. Look for 278 units across the six-story structures that will also include 13K sqft of retail space in the two northernmost buildings. Despite some concerns from the near neighbors regarding the wall, it looks like it will remain, with the project sporting frontage north of the wall on Lehigh Ave. and east of the wall on Tulip St. along with 132 parking spaces, which will consist of both surface and structured parking. Borkson Properties is the developer and they have brought on DesignBlendz to handle architectural duties. Let’s check out what’s heading our way.

A peek into the site from Lehigh Ave. shows more work underway
Revamped view from the corner of Tulip & Lehigh
Closer look at the northernmost building along Lehigh Ave.
Coffee, landscaping and a trail connection all in one

This will clearly be a massive upgrade to the location, which is less than inviting in its current state. The addition of hundreds of people, multiple retail spaces, and improved pedestrian infrastructure make this project a huge win in our eyes. The huge Kensington Courts project just next door shows that residences at this scale can indeed be successful here.

And speaking of other projects, we checked in on two others we covered recently just north of the tracks. Back in March, we visited 2201 E. Somerset St., where over 100 units are being added across multiple buildings. Things were quiet back then, but you can see things are now well underway, with multiple structures from Atrium Design Group now out of the ground.

Current view of 2201 E. Somerset from the north side of the site
Future view of the north part of the project

Just across Trenton Ave. at 2149 E. Rush St. is another project from DesignBlendz. This one will bring us 72 units in a five story building, along with some artist studios. Things aren’t quite as far along here, but it did appear that there was some action at the site.

Not much progress since March, but things were active
Rendering of 2149 E. Rush St.

It is almost unthinkable that so many units will rise here, given the physical barriers of Lehigh Avenue and the train tracks, plus the continued challenges of the opioid crisis in this area. Let’s hope these projects can continue to revitalize the neighborhood and that the City can finally figure out a strategy to provide desperately needed services in the area. There’s quite a bit of work to be done on both fronts.