Apartments For Furness Church at 47th & Kingsessing?

The buildings at 4700 Kingsessing Ave. were constructed over a century ago, designed by Frank Furness and originally housing the Church of Atonement. By the time 2013 rolled around, the property was in shambles, with neighbor concerns about structural issues resulting in an L&I violation that put the future of the building in doubt. Less than two years later, developer Guy Laren came onto the scene, purchasing the church and starting renovation work, totally fixing up the smaller building and partially renovating the former sanctuary. Several businesses now make their home on this little campus, including a day care and a community print shop called the Soapbox.

Renovated building

But what of the section of the former sanctuary of the church which remains boarded up? A zoning notice on the property provides some insight into what's happening there.

Zoning notice

Former sanctuary, future apartments?

According to the zoning notice, the developer is looking to convert the building into 20 apartment units. This is exactly the type of use we were hoping for when we first learned that the church would be saved, as we were inspired at the time by a similar project at 27th & Girard. The project was originally scheduled at the ZBA before the end 2015 but was continued and will come to the board this week. Given that this plan has been out there for a few months, we'd have thought that someone else would have covered this story by now, but we can't seem to find any additional information at this point.

Does anyone living in the area have an idea about how the project was received by the community? We'd think that people would be happy about the conversion, though these types of projects always seem to circle back to parking. In this area in particular, we could also imagine that near neighbors might have some concerns about whether the apartments will target students or non-students. As far as we're concerned, we don't care who would be targeted, we're just happy that the building is being renovated and not torn down, and that this effort has a conceptual end point. Here's to hoping that it gets approval this week at the ZBA.