Germantown Avenue Apartment Project Gets Zoning Approval

Germantown Avenue in South Kensington has experienced tremendous change over the last several years, with the 1400 block seeing the bulk of the construction activity. And as we’ve told you previously, there’s still more to come for that block, with the most notable projects being an adaptive reuse that will add 50 units to the block, and a new construction project that will include 120 new units. With new apartments apparently en vogue on Germantown Avenue, it should come as no surprise that other developers are planning additional apartments a little farther north.

Developers purchased the 10K sqft parcel at 1613 Germantown Ave. last year, paying $600K. For a long time, there was a rough looking one-story warehouse on this property, but if you visit today you’ll see the building is gone and the property is sitting vacant. But not for long.

Current view

Just this week, the ZBA approved a plan to build a new apartment building here, with 48 units and only 3 parking spaces. According to Curbed, this project will entail very small units, roughly 440 sqft in size, which will be rented for $750/month. The seven units on the first floor will be larger live/work spaces, and will be rented for $1,200/mo. Amenities will be located in the basement level, accessed through a courtyard in the middle of the building, and will include a small co-working space, a lounge, a fitness room, and a media room. Yeah, we also would not have expected amenities in a building like this.

Rendering of the front of the project
Rear rendering

If the developer is able to make this project work from a financial standpoint, it would represent a giant leap in terms of tenant value in a new construction building, compared to other properties out there. Perhaps it will inspire other market rate developers to try to find opportunities on the lower end of the rent spectrum, though parking could prove to be the fly in the ointment. Philly 3.0 wrote a story about this project, which will be built with only 3 parking spaces instead of the 17 required by the code. This developer was able to pull this off this time in this neighborhood, but there’s no guarantee that other developers will have similar success in the future, or in other parts of the city. Unfortunately, in desirable parts of town, parking and affordability are generally mutually exclusive. Different communities might have to choose, in situations like this, which one is more important. In most cases, we suspect, parking will win out.