We’ve covered several Orens Brothers projects over the years, like their successful redevelopment of Croydon Hall at 49th & Locust. Shortly after they wrapped that project, we told you about another significant project from this developer on the 4400 blocks of Chestnut and Ludlow Streets. The plans called for roughly 150 units over two buildings, with one structure running from Chestnut to Ludlow and another building on the north side of Ludlow Street, potentially with a pedestrian bridge between them. This was back in 2015 though, and if you visit these properties today, you’ll see that the project never came to pass.
We were perusing the ZBA calendar for this week though, and noticed 4411 Chestnut St. on the agenda. We did a quick search, and happened upon a West Philly Local story from last month, indicating that Orens Brothers came back to the Spruce Hill Community Association with the intention of finally moving forward with the project. According to the story, the project was delayed as the developers worked to buy up all the necessary surrounding properties to execute their plan. Now that all the acquisition work is done, they have a concept for two buildings with a total of 165 apartments, retail space, and parking.
The project was continued yesterday at the ZBA, and we reached out to SHCA to find out why. First, some RCOs in the area weren’t aware of the first meeting. Also, it seems the developers willingly pulled the project off the agenda because they have a separate refusal for the Ludlow Street property, which only arrived last week. As a result of these factors, the developers are coming back to the community this month with both refusals as part of a single project, with an aim to go before the ZBA next month.
Assuming this project gets approved at the ZBA, it will join a lengthy list of new residential projects that have appeared on this part of Chestnut Street in recent years. We have to think that, like many of those other buildings, this project will target Penn undergrad and grad students, but maybe it’ll also draw some young professionals since it’s a bit west of campus. Then again, it’s a serious assumption that this project will get approved because the variances are fairly significant. Ultimately, we suspect it’ll come down to community support. We haven’t attended any meetings on this particular project, so we aren’t sure what the neighborhood thinks about it. Did anyone go to the SHCA meeting last month that can provide some insight?