A couple of years ago, Baring Street existed unaware to our development consciousness. Now the 4000 block of Baring St. in West Powelton is a block in the midst of a complete transformation. Can we say it’s like a redevelopment butterfly, emerging from its cocoon?

So many new buildings

In the last eighteen months, we’ve written about the development of three lots at 4006-10 Baring St., a one-off rental building at 4032 Baring St., and 25-units of student housing to 4001-11 Baring St. from builders Errol McAlinden and Gerard Regan. With all of the buildings that have gone up, kind of makes you wonder if the giant empty space formed by five vacant lots at the northwest corner of Baring and Wiota Streets will be afforded the opportunity of being revitalized sometime soon.

But what about this football field?

The first two lots, 4015-17 Baring St. are owned by an individual named Nicole Dryden Smith, according to public record. Combined, these two lots have a footprint of over 4,500 sqft. Not bad. Then things get a little complicated. Greater Faith Baptist Church, located at the end of the block, has owned 4019 and 4023 for fifteen years, having received them for a nominal amount from PHDC. But it sure would be tough for the church to build on those lots, since 4021 Baring St. is owned privately, by Baring Street LLC. These Glenside developers purchased the lot last summer for $65K, seemingly increasing the likelihood that construction should be happening soon.

And wouldn’t you know it? In the last few months, building permits have been pulled for all three of the privately owned lots mentioned above. And it makes sense. There’s so many other students on the block, it will be a no brainer for additional students to move in. Plus, the Drexel and Science Center expansions will mean an increased demand for housing in the area, making a trek further north more palatable to more people. And the block is close to businesses on Powelton Ave. and the Lancaster Avenue commercial corridor, where the Route 10 trolley runs. Nice new apartments, lots of fellow students, businesses nearby, access to public transportation, and proximity to schools. Kind of a perfect storm for new construction student housing.

Now if only the church would pull some permits and get in on the fun. Or sell off those darn vacant lots, heaven forbid.

–Lou Mancinelli