When Iron Stone Real Estate Partners introduced a plan in 2011 to redevelop the Apple Storage building at 780 S. 52nd St. into a significant residential development, we felt like the project was a bit ahead of its time. And wouldn’t you know it, even through the project got zoning approval in early 2012, the project stalled out before the end of the year because of financing difficulties. It seems that banks weren’t lining up around the block to fund a major project this far into West Philly, at least back then. We told you at the time that the project was on the market, with a $2M asking price.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that nothing happened in the years that followed. A big vacant building continued to sit vacant, as it seems potential buyers were scared off by the asking price, the financing struggles, or a combination thereof. Finally though, at the end of last year, Post Brothers bought the building for $2.41M. This isn’t the first foray for this developer in this part of town; as we told you last month, Post also owns the Garden Court Plaza building at 47th & Pine and is currently trying to get ZBA approval for two new residential towers at that site.
The ZBA won’t be involved in the Apple Lofts project though, as they already made a ruling half a decade ago and the former owners were diligent in properly extending their permits. That being said, Post Brothers is definitely making some changes to the project, through administrative review. The originally approved plan called for 112 apartments, but the revised project will increase the unit count to 153. At the same time, the number of parking spaces is coming down, from 92 to 69. We see there’s a dog park planned as part of the development, perhaps that’s what’s replacing those parking spots?
We also think the building will look a little different than the image in the rendering above. When we passed by the property the other day, we discovered that construction is now underway, and we spied expanded window openings on the upper levels of the building. That’s great news, as the current window openings are definitely lacking. It’s not entirely clear whether the old rendering called for bigger windows, but if not, it’s incredibly encouraging to see that change taking place.
Like we said, this project was ahead of its time just a handful of years ago. And lenders seemingly agreed with us, balking at the idea of financing a large scale residential project on 52nd Street. But times have changed. We’ve seen construction and commerce slowly trickle west on Baltimore Avenue, with major changes on the 5100 block. In addition, we’ve told you about several projects south of Baltimore Avenue, as developers are growing more comfortable with getting students that want to live on the edge of Southwest Philadelphia. The Apple Lofts project should only reinforce those trends, and will surely encourage other developers that haven’t bought into this section of town, to date.