The 1800 block of Ludlow is one of the stranger, seedier blocks in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, where a row of older, three story buildings on the south side of the block smash against the backs of the high rise buildings on the 1800 block of Market Street. Slowly though, the block is experiencing some significant changes. The former surface lot on the western side of the block is now gone, replaced by a Pod Hotel location. Two of the older buildings on the eastern side of the block have been demoed in the last couple years and those properties are now used for surface parking.

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Looking west on Ludlow Street
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In the past
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1812 and 1814 are gone

There’s something else brewing on this block, but we confess we can’t quite figure out what’s in store. A developer bought 1812 and 1814 Ludlow St. about two years ago, paying $800K for the pair. Those are the buildings that have been demoed of late. A year later, the same developer bought 1808-10 Ludow St., along with 1813 Ranstead St., which sits directly to the south of the Ludlow properties. The combined cost there was $1.35M. Last week, the developer pulled a zoning permit which consolidates the lots into a single lot which covers a little over 3,000 sqft. Given that the developer is now into the property for over $2M, we don’t think that this consolidation is just in the service of legalizing a small surface parking lot – something else is seemingly at play.

1813 Ranstead St., next to a newish quadplex

The newly consolidated property is zoned CMX-5, which allows for a twelve-story building on 100% of the lot, but has a 3:10 parking ratio which could ostensibly be managed by leasing parking spots in a nearby garage. It’s not out of the question that we could see a tall building rise here, though the site is still 40% smaller than the teeny tiny Wendy’s site at 11th & Walnut so we don’t think it’s terribly likely. Perhaps a more obvious project would be a smaller apartment building, echoing the size of the adjacent quadplex on Ranstead Street, though that also doesn’t feel like an intuitive outcome, given the price paid for the land. It’s also possible that the developer is aiming for a larger assemblage on this block, but is willing to wait out some other property owners before executing a larger sized project.

At this point, we just don’t know what to expect here. We will say that the quadplex on Ranstead Street (which traded for $1.45M after it was completed and occupied) could be a fly in the ointment for a potential future project on this block, as it sits right in the middle of other undeveloped and underdeveloped properties. Could this building, which is just half a decade old, end up getting demolished by someone looking to build something tall and dense? It certainly seems like a possibility, crazy as it is to posit at this moment.