The 3600 block of Haverford Avenue is full of potential, due to both its desirable location and the fact that it’s home to some larger sized lots that are dramatically underused. This is only partly true at 3618-32 Haverford Ave., a property that’s been home to the West Philadelphia Assembly for Christ for many years – the church is a fine use at the site, but the associated surface parking is far from the highest and best use. Both will soon disappear, however, as How Properties is purchasing the entire 20K site. The developers will be demoing the existing building on the site and replacing it with a new mixed-use project.

Current view

The developers, along with their architects at Harman Deutsch Ohler, will be presenting this project at Civic Design Review next month. Per the CDR packet, the project will entail a four-story building with 61 apartments, roughly 5K sqft of commercial space, and no parking. With a mix of one bedrooms, two bedrooms, and three bedrooms, we imagine the building will target a mix of students and young professionals. As the by-right plan is utilizing a mixed-income zoning bonus to account for additional density and height, 7 of the 61 units will be offered at moderate-income rental rates. Figure all of those units will end up getting leased by the fortunate first students to call about the building, as just about any undergrad or grad student meets the income requirements to qualify for these units.

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Aerial rendering
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Rendering from the street
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Rendering on Brandywine

This project will be a welcome addition to this block, but it won’t be the last project on the 3600 block of Haverford Avenue by a long shot. You may recall, the north side of this block has been in line for a massive redevelopment for almost a decade. Back in 2013, we told you about a supermarket and suburban-style parking lot that would span four city blocks, running from 36th & Haverford to 38th & Wallace. By 2018, the plan has shrunk in scale by 50%, ending at 37th Street. It also improved by leaps and bounds, eliminating most of the sea of parking and adding a ton of residential development, including an apartment building at 37th & Haverford.

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In the past

You can see in the site plan, a prominent aspect of the plan included James Dupree’s studio, a sizable building on the north side of the 3600 block of Haverford. As we reported a few times over the years, Mr. Dupree pushed back against the City’s efforts to take his property by eminent domain, ultimately winning out to the extent that the plan was revised to get built around his art studio. Given the murals on the old building and Mr. Dupree’s plans to maintain it as a cultural arts center, it would have been a tremendously cool feature in the larger development.

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Rendering from the street

Last year though, Mr. Dupree finally sold his building, sharing with WHYY that he was tired of fighting and didn’t want to remain in Mantua as it continued to undergo redevelopment. Though public record doesn’t reflect the sale, we imagine that he sold it to the group that’s building the two-block project and integrating it into their site. It’s also possible it’s been bought by a private developer, like was said we’re not sure. What we do know, however, is that the building was demoed at some point in the last year.

View across the street

While Mr. Dupree’s old studio is now gone, you can see that there’s still no activity on the surrounding site. On the plus side, we see that the building permit was pulled for the apartment building planned at 37th & Haverford before the end of last year, so that’s probably an indication that we’ll see work start for that project at some point in the coming months. But given all the delays we’ve seen here over the years, who knows?

Will work begin on the north side of the street before the building on the south side of the street breaks ground? Will the apartment building look like the plans we shared back in 2018 or have things changed again? Hopefully, we’ll get answers to these questions and more in the near future. In the meantime, we predict smooth sailing for the project on the south side of the street, and would expect to see construction activity by the end of the year.