A reader recently reached out to us, having spied a zoning notice posted on an old industrial building on the Norris Square / Fairhill border. Curious, we made the hike up to 178 W. Huntingdon St. to see what all the fuss was about. We found very little fuss at present, but assuming that the owners of the property receive the variance they’re seeking, there will be soon be some fuss indeed. First, let’s take a look at the property itself:

View of the building
From the east
From the south

The property spreads over roughly 12K sqft and includes a couple of buildings that were originally used as a carpet mill for Sykes Bros. Incorporated. In looking at historic zoning records for the property, we saw a hardship argument we’d never seen before when the company was seeking to install a trash compactor- that they existed as a business before the zoning code itself came into effect and they should therefore be granted a variance. By the way, it appears that this argument worked, as they got the trash compacter they desired.

But we digress. The buildings have been sitting vacant for quite some time, and since 2006 the property has been on and off the market. Developers bought the property in 2012 for $265K with an eye toward residential redevelopment, but those plans never came to fruition. Last year, the property came back on the market at an asking price of $1.35M, providing an indication of just how far the market has come in a very short time. It sold earlier this year for just over $1M.

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Project rendering

Assuming the new developers get their way, they will convert the existing buildings into apartments, with a total of 57 units. Sure, they won’t be able to make the same argument that the carpet mill made all those years ago, but we still imagine they’ll still get the go ahead to pursue this project since we honestly can’t think of a reason why anyone would oppose it (famous last words). What kind of rents they’ll get is a bit of a mystery to us, given the location. On the plus side, it’s just two blocks away from the Kensington Avenue border of East Kensington. On the other hand, being close to Kensington Avenue isn’t much of a selling point, when we thing about it. Still, we’re hopeful that the ZBA will grant the desired variance and we’ll see these buildings repurposed rather than demolished. It would certainly be amazing to see this long vacant property receive a new lease on life.