Early this morning, we were passing through Mantua and spotted a construction fence on the south side of the 3400 block of Wallace Street. Across the street and down the block, we then saw formwork, announcing another project nearby. This made lots of sense to us, as vacant land in this area has become increasingly attractive to investors looking to build student housing. And we'd bet that's exactly what will happen here.
Developer Ramy Shraim bought 3432 and 3434 Wallace St. back in 2012, and is just now getting around to developing them. You may recall, this is the same developer that built a rental property on Lancaster Avenue on the site of an old gas station. According to the L&I Map, Shraim is building two triplexes on these lots, which we are confident will also be rentals. Count on them to target Drexel students.
And as an aside, if you're curious about the blighted building a few doors down, it's owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. You may wonder, why doesn't PHA sell off the scattered site properties they can't afford to repair and utilize? Why do they allow properties like this to drag down blocks all over the city? We suspect we'll continue to ask this question 'til we die.
Meanwhile, 3407 Wallace St. is already under construction. A larger lot, this property can and will accomodate five apartments by right, and that's exactly what the developer is working on. So by our count, that's three vacant lots going away and eleven new apartments coming to the block. Pretty good, right?
Regrettably several vacant lots on the block, including the one that's next door to the formwork pictured above, are owned by the Redevelopment Authority. And if the system for selling PRA lots doesn't change dramatically, expect them to remain vacant for the foreseeable future. Quite a bummer.