Fun fact – the US Post Office West Market branch isn’t located on Market Street, but instead calls the 5000 block of Sansom Street home. Eh, it’s just a half block to the south, so it’s close enough, right? For our money, maybe we’d leave the incorrect street name out of the name of the branch and just name it after somebody, but nobody asked us so here we are. This post office fills about half of the north side of this block, with a post office looking building plus a parking lot for all the mail trucks. The other half of this side of the block is occupied by a collection of buildings which look like they’re used for storage and garage parking.
Like so many blocks in West Philly these days, change is coming to the 5000 block of Sansom. The post office isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but we can’t say the same for those buildings next door. Earlier this month, developers pulled permits to build a new mixed-use building at 5035-41 Sansom St., a project that would entail the demolition of the buildings currently on the site and the construction of a new building with ground-floor retail and 28 units. This would be a departure from the longtime status quo on the north side of the block, and would also differ from the single-family homes that fill the south side. Incidentally, the property in question is zoned for mixed-use, making this project a by-right development.
Just what kind of housing we can expect here is a little unclear. We’ve seen new construction targeting students push farther west and farther north over the years, so a student housing development is certainly possible here. We’ve also seen other projects targeting young professionals, so maybe that’s in the cards. The permit includes language that mentions group living, and we confess we don’t know whether that means the new building will be a facility of some kind or whether that’s just permitting parlance for a dorm-like development.
Whoever the building targets in terms of tenants, it’ll be an obvious step up on this block from the buildings that are there now. We imagine that the folks living across the street would have rather seen new homes rise here instead, but as we mentioned, the mixed-use zoning and the increased developer interest in this part of town are combining to make this type of project the only path for this property. We do wonder what kind of commercial tenant will eventually occupy the retail space, as this isn’t exactly a major retail center. In a perfect world, the post office would move down the block and their current home would undergo a similar transition, to add some units above. But alas, our world isn’t perfect just yet, so we don’t imagine that’ll be what happens here.