Roughly two years ago, we told you about South Square, a project on the 100 block of W. Berks St. from AGA Developers that called for 19 residential units and two retail spaces. We were a little skeptical about the project, given that we’d seen relatively little development this far north in South Kensington, but figured the developers knew what they were doing, given their track record. Visiting the site today, we see that construction appears to be finished. Visiting the project website today, it appears that all but three of the 19 units are either sold or under agreement. So yeah, they did indeed know what they were doing and we were foolish to doubt them even for a moment. Lesson learned.
Today, we have news of another project planned for this block, at 150 W. Berks St., the large parcel immediately next door. Currently, the property is a mix of a parking lot and a couple of old warehouses. And we probably don’t have to tell you that the old warehouses will be torn down and totally new construction will rise here. Assuming, that is, that the ZBA says it’s okay.
The plans call for 27 single family homes and two mixed-use buildings, each with three condo units and a retail space on the first floor. Conceptually, this sounds very similar to the South Square project and it makes us wonder whether it’s the same developer coming back to the well, or a copycat developer noting what got approved by the ZBA and successfully sold next door. The name of the ownership entity is West Berks Community Dev LLC, which would seem to suggest some kind of non-profit or affordable housing entity. But the purchase price from earlier this year was roughly $1.6M, which suggests market rate all the way.
Whichever the identity of the developer that redevelops this property, it will be another huge transitional step for this area, converting industrial properties to (mostly) residential use. This makes sense to us, given the pace of development in the neighborhoods to the south and east. And don’t forget, the Berks Septa Station is just a block and a half from here, which will make it almost as easy to get downtown as it is to walk to Frankford Avenue. One thing that we’ll really be interested to track in the near future is what types of businesses ultimately open up in the retail spaces at South Square and in this new development. Berks Street isn’t exactly a bustling commercial corridor, but as more homes and apartments get built in the area, businesses will increasingly become viable on this street.