What’s the Deal With the Vacant Lot at 3rd & Christian?

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Prominent empty lot

But seriously, isn’t it a little odd that 300 Christian St. is sitting undeveloped? It’s a sizable parcel, measuring just shy of 10K sqft. These days, developers are gobbling up any and all vacant land in areas much farther from Center City and building stuff. And this is Queen Village! Sure, the parcel sits just on the other side of the street from the Meredith catchment, but Nebinger is a pretty strong school too. So why is nothing happening here? The short answer is, we don’t know. But we sure can speculate!

Salter Mews compound

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the property is already owned by developers. The company that owns the property also owns the parcel immediately to the south (mostly) and built twenty homes there maybe half a decade ago. That project, Salter Mews, originally expected to break ground around 2008, but the economic downturn hampered the development and put it on hold for a few years. Salter Mews was conceived as a for sale project, with prices around $650K. When the project finally broke ground, list prices were revised down to $479K and from what we can see on public record, only one home ended up selling. The rest of the homes have remained in the hands of the developers, offered as rentals in the $3,000/mo price range.

The one home that sold a few years back is currently on the market at a price of $625K. It’s been listed for a couple months and hasn’t sold, which gives a pretty good indication of what the market would bear if the existing homes transitioned away from rentals. We wonder whether the Salter Mews owners are looking to see what someone ultimately pays for the one home that’s listed and, will use that info to make a determination as to whether they will stick with the current setup or sell off the project one home at a time. It’s quite possible that they’re in a holding pattern with the vacant lot at the corner until they develop a strategy to move forward with the homes they’ve already built. Alternately, maybe they’re just waiting for someone to come forward and make a crazy offer for the corner parcel, given the heat in the market at the moment.

Southwark Public Housing Projects, just to the south

We’d think that the challenge for 300 Christian St. is identical for the challenge faced by the Salter Mews homes, and that’s the proximity to the Riverview Courtyard Community, more commonly known as the Southwark Public Housing Projects. People are willing to pay top dollar for homes just one block from here, but have seemingly balked at paying high prices for homes located immediately adjacent to this pocket of PHA homes. The area has improved by leaps and bounds in recent decades, as low-rise homes replaced poorly maintained towers, but the low-income housing has impacted Salter Mews and would likely have an effect on anything built at the corner. As such, maybe an apartment building would make the most sense here, but we’re not sure that the neighborhood would support such a project, given that the parcel is zoned for single-family use.