The 1700 block of Seybert Street isn't one of Philadelphia's finest, and in the snow it somehow looks extra bleak. According to public record, there are 56 parcels on this block, and 37 of them are sitting vacant. If you happen to visit, you'll agree that this seems pretty accurate.
But the photo above also gives you a sense that change is in the air on this block. You can see a truck parked on the northern sidewalk that's loaded up with formwork, and in the distance you can see a three story home that looks like it's a relatively new addition.
The new home is the work of V2 Properties, a developer that's seemingly doing projects like this in every neighborhood around town these days. They're also responsible for the new foundation in the foreground and in addition, they own 1703 Seybert St., where it's safe to assume a new home will soon appear. If history is any indication, these homes will all be listed for sale at market rate prices.
But that's not all for this block!
Another developer, ATL Development, owns seven parcels on this block. This developer has a different plan than V2 Properties, as they're looking to build duplexes on all of their parcels. Of course, as the zoning notice in the image above would indicate, the ZBA has to give their approval to such a plan, and we frankly have no idea whether that approval is forthcoming. The block is zoned for multi-family use, but the code requires larger lot sizes to support additional density, and these lots are really quite small. Since it's just a dimensional variance, there's a decent chance they'll get approval, even though we're not sure there's much hardship in this case.
When we first got to this block, we thought there was a possibility that the 1700 block of Seybert Street was one of the many in and around Sharswood taken by PHA via eminent domain as part of their major affordable housing development campaign. Turns out, that doesn't start until 19th Street, which is just as well. It seems that private development is alive and well on this block thanks to its proximity to Francisville and Temple University, and public dollars aren't needed at this time. It bears watching to see just how much this block changes in the next few years. We wonder whether the lots that aren't currently in developer hands will turn over as additional construction takes place or whether some vacancy will persist.