Construction Moving Farther Up Lancaster Ave. Than We’d Expect

Lancaster Avenue is a fascinating West Philadelphia corridor which starts on Drexel’s campus and ends on the Main Line (okay, technically it ends just outside of Pittsburgh, but we digress). In between, it runs through several working class neighborhoods, including Belmont, Cathedral Park, and Overbrook, before taking a hard turn toward suburbia. The corridor has tremendous potential due to the fact that the street is so wide, it has easy access to a couple of major universities and a massive hospital system, and it provides an alternate transportation route to the northwest. But for whatever reason, it has historically felt underdeveloped, even on its desirable southeastern blocks.

That condition has changed some in recent years, as numerous apartment buildings have appeared on the corridor. The largest is the Summit at University City, which added hundreds of units and several retail spaces when it was completed back in 2016. But there are numerous apartment buildings that have followed in its wake, generally adding units three or four stories at a time, with most of the projects weighted to the east of 40th Street. As one might expect though, projects are starting to push north and west, with a recent example being a 23-unit project that’s nearly at 41st Street. After that it’s pretty slim pickings though, and we were therefore surprised to note a new building at 4432 Lancaster Ave. when we passed by the other day. This is pretty far out, as new development goes on this corridor.

New building at 4432 Lancaster Ave.

The building was completed last year and has three apartments on the upper floors with an office space downstairs. As new construction of this ilk goes, it’s a nice looking building, even though it pales in comparison to the older building next door which is in pretty lousy condition. Currently, a 2-bedroom unit is available for rent in the building for $1,450/mo, and if you look at the listing, you’ll surely agree that the front door to the unit is very compatible with our brand.

Vacant lot at 4408-10 Lancaster Ave. is next

The same group that built this building has another project coming down the pike just a few doors away. Earlier this week, we noticed a zoning permit for a new project at 4408-10 Lancaster Ave., which is currently sitting vacant. The plans call for a 9-unit building with retail on the first floor. This project got a variance last year, as it will entail twice as much density as would be allowed under the zoning code. This is great news!

We wouldn’t have expected one of these projects, let alone both of them, but it’s clear that this developer is bullish on Belmont and believes Lancaster Avenue development will push in this direction in the coming years. It’s not a bad bet from where we sit, given the number of projects that have appeared around Penn and Drexel over the last decade. Student housing and other market rate housing in West Philly has continued to push farther out than anyone would have expected, and if the market comes this far up Lancaster Avenue, there is plenty of undeveloped and underdeveloped property that could turn over, and quickly.