The 1500 block of Pine Street is a truly spectacular block, architecturally speaking. The south side of the block is dominated by four-story brownstones, most of which have either been well maintained or nicely restored. On the north side of the block, many facades feature brownstone on the first floor and bricks on the floors above, mixing in the occasional pointy cornice or 5th floor mansard. Midblock, Hicks Street intersects and runs to the north, with a cute cafe at the corner and charming homes running up Hicks Street which would look just right either here or in the middle of Fitler Square. If you also consider the prime location of this block vis a vis Center City, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most desirable blocks in town.
If we have any bone to pick with this block, it’s the presence of the surface parking lot at the northwest corner of Hicks & Pine. This 6,000 sqft property has been used as such for a shocking amount of time, dating back to at least the 1940s. Before that, there were 13 properties on the parcel, including a small courtyard community of eight homes on a mini-block called Bowery Place. It’s indeed a shame that a property that once accommodated so much density ended up a surface lot for all these years. In fact, it’s safe to say that there were once more people living on this property than there are cars parked here on a given day.
You can probably guess from the title of this story and the fact that we’re covering the property in the first place, this parking lot is currently under agreement and will soon get redeveloped. By right, a developer could build a new building with 13 units (throwback density!), and with some bonuses could get that unit count to around two dozen. Given the location though, the developers are going for a lower density approach, and are planning 5 townhomes here. Each home will have two-car parking accessed from a drive-aisle on the western side of the property, and one has to think that they will be souped up with the highest end finishes. With new construction in Rittenhouse in extremely short supply, these homes will surely sell at prices north of $2M, and if the developers end up pursuing a height variance, we could see prices over $3M.
With this parking lot soon going the way of the dodo, we naturally are inclined to wonder about the future of the parking lot a block to the west, at 16th & Pine. That lot is more than twice the size of the lot on the 1500 block, and could accommodate a dozen similar homes with room to spare, and maybe a few more homes if you map out the site creatively. We haven’t heard any noise about that lot turning over, but all it’ll take is a developer making a large enough offer to motivate a sale. We suspect the owners of that one have no shortage of unsolicited offers on their hands, so it’s probably just a matter of time before the 16th & Pine lot follows in the footsteps of its neighbor to the east.