Two new projects will soon change the corner of 7th & Cecil B Moore in a dramatic fashion, and these projects will take very different forms. This location is on the edge of South Kensington, in an area that’s full of PHA homes and vacant land. But as South Kensington has continued to develop and as Temple to the west has grown as well, this area is seeing increasing interest from developers, typically with smaller, one-off projects. The project on the northeast corner, which is already ongoing, probably qualifies as a medium-sized development.

Northeast corner
Closer look

1705 N. 7th St. has been home to the New Greater Straightway Baptist Church for a couple decades, but the building dates back to the end of the 19th century. As we shared back in 2016 when we explored the history of this edifice, the building was constructed in 1886 as the home for the Adath Jeshurun synagogue. A different synagogue worshipped here from 1911 to 1967, after which the building transitioned to the aptly named Shalom Baptist Church. The Moorish-revival architecture is unlike any other building we can think of in Philadelphia, making it one of our favorites in town. Lest you worry that it’ll be torn down as part of a redevelopment plan, let us cheer you with the information that the building is on the local historic register and it isn’t going anywhere.

But it is getting redeveloped. The church sold the building to a developer in 2019, and that developer is pursuing a plan to convert the existing building into a 22-unit apartment building. They will add two new internal levels, creating apartments on the existing first floor, and bi-level units on a newly created 2nd and 3rd floor space. Along with restoring the facade to its original glory and reopening all the sealed up windows, they will also rebuild an onion dome on the northern side of the building, to recreate an architectural detail that disappeared only in the last handful of years. We should also mention that the plans include a four-unit building on a vacant lot next door to the former synagogue turned church, but that will require a zoning variance. Assuming that’s granted, that’ll be 26 new units altogether, with the vast majority located in an awesome old building.

Northwest corner

Across the street, we know that something is coming but we’re a little hazier on the details. A medical center has operated at 701 Cecil B. Moore Ave. for a long time, in a structure that has combined a number of old buildings into one commercial space. The owners of that property also own a small garage and some vacant land around the corner on Franklin Street. We just saw a permit come down the pike that calls for the demolition of all the buildings on the site and the relocation of lot lines. That permit suggests that homes will be constructed on Franklin Street and a mixed-use building will rise on Cecil B. Moore Ave., with maximized density from using a couple zoning bonuses. But we don’t know exactly how many units it will entail, or what will end up in the sizable commercial space. Nevertheless, this project will likely rise four-stories and include dozens of additional units, adding to the mix at this soon to be happening intersection.