We have been both surprised and delighted by how development has crept up through Fishtown/East Kensington and pushed past the mental and physical boundary of Lehigh Avenue and the Conrail Tracks at the upper end of the neighborhood. The Kensington Courts project at Lehigh & Frankford Ave. paved the way for a number of other proposals for this stretch. After a tip from one of our readers regarding construction activity, we went to check out the sites at 2201 E. Somerset St. and 2149 E. Rush St. to see what was afoot.

Map of the neighborhood shows the site just to the northeast of the Conrail Tracks
Kengington Courts just southwest of the Conrail tracks from the site

As we told you back in 2018, the project at Somerset Street, will bring over 100 units to this full city block. Previously the site of a huge warehouse, the entire parcel has been cleared in preparation for several Atrium Design Group-designed buildings including single-family homes, duplexes and a mixed-unit apartment building. It was mostly quiet when we visited the site, though a new concrete border was recently placed around the perimeter. It is tough to overstate how massive this extra-wide lot is, covering the 2.3-acre footprint of two full blocks. Let’s check out the site in the past and present and peer into our crystal ball to see what’s coming in the future.

2201 E. Somerset St. in the past, looking east from Somerset & Trenton
...and the view now, with the buildings long gone.
View looking south from E. Rush & Trenton showing the huge expanse
Aerial of the site shows what's on the way
Mixed-use building on north part of lot
View looking west on Tulip St.
Looking north across Somerset
Community area in the center of the parcel

Multiple building permits have been pulled for the project within the past week, so we expect to see work get started soon. This project is just across Trenton Avenue from another proposal that is full steam ahead. 2149 E. Rush St. has also received building permits and machinery is on-site. 72 units will be included in this five-story building along with artist studios. Check out what’s coming, with architecture courtesy of DesignBlendz.

Current view shows heavy equipment in action
Site plan shows L-shaped parcel
Elevations provide some details of what will go up
A rendering of what's coming at 2149 E. Rush

Seeing these projects getting started has us dreaming of what might be in store for the neighborhood in the coming years. There are many other proposals within a few blocks of here, and if all of them actually move forward, there will literally be hundreds and hundreds of new residents in an area that doesn’t exactly explode with foot traffic. Also encouraging is how these projects are taking the place of vacant lots and other industrial uses that no longer make sense for this increasingly residential area. We hope that these changes also coincide with an uptick in other retail and services for the area, as they are currently concentrated to the south of Lehigh, mostly on Frankford Avenue. Either way, kudos to you if you predicted the train tracks would suddenly become a hotbed of development.

Amber Gardens around the way at 2740 Amber St.
The Pump House would bring hundreds of units to 2157 E. Lehigh Ave.
Aerial of 2750R Aramingo Ave. a block to the south
An aerial of 2200 E. Somerset, with the 2201 in the foreground