Over the summer, we heard from a reader in South Kensington that developers had purchased a former church on the 1200 block of N. Hancock Street. When we trekked over there, we found a nice enough looking building at 1217 N. Hancock St. that seemed like it would lend itself relatively well to residential reuse, but at the time we had no idea what kind of project would be taking place. We were able to do a little bit of research on the building, learning that it was built in either 1855 or 1889 as the Hancock Street Methodist Episcopal Church.
Later this month, the new owners of the property will present a plan to the ZBA to demolish a one-story section of the building and convert the remaining structure into a 12-unit apartment building. The project will require a variance because the property is zoned for single-family use, despite the fact that it's about 6,400 sqft in size. If it were zoned multi-family, the developers could theoretically include 17 units, but that's a moot point because they probably wouldn't be able to fit that many units into the existing building.
The project came before the community at the end of last month, and we hope it was met with support. Philadelphia has already lost so many churches in the current wave of development, it's a breath of fresh air to hear about a old church that's getting reused, especially considering the fact that it's not designated historic. And we have a feeling that the developers are going to do a fine job with this project, as their address on public record tracks back to a warehouse reuse project in East Kensington, the Northern Treaty Lofts.
If this is an example of what we can expect, we have high hopes for the former Hancock Street Methodist Episcopal Church.