Chestnut Street is drunk, and the fall semester hasn’t even started yet. Over the past week and change, we’ve already brought two projects to your attention on Chestnut Street in Spruce Hill. Eight days ago, we told you about a 100-unit project coming soon on the 4200 block. A mere two days ago, we shared the news that a massive 327-unit building was in store for the 4500 block. And don’t forget, last month we told you about plans for 136 units on the 4100 block. That’s 563 new units over the three projects (we admit we used a calculator, don’t judge), and that doesn’t even account for the hundreds of units added by multiple projects that have appeared between 41st and 43rd Streets in the last few years. Of course, you can probably guess that there’s even more in store.

4301 Chestnut St.
View from the west

The entire north side of the 4300 block of Chestnut Street contains a one-story shopping center, as has been the case for several decades. Notably, a Fine Wine and Good Spirits opened here in 2013, in a rare example of a liquor store classing up a retail space, as it replaced an adult video store. This store, which was a relocation of a store that had been on the 4000 block of Market Street for years, represents one of only three liquor stores in all of West Philly, with another at 49th & Baltimore and the other at 52nd & Lancaster. We have to think that the store at 43rd & Chestnut does a ton of business- but not for long.

We’ve heard rumblings for the last few years that something was happening to this shopping center, but we finally received confirmation that indeed, the shopping center’s days are numbered and the site is tabbed for redevelopment. Next week Spruce Hill Community Association will host a public meeting at which the neighborhood will hear about a plan for a 7-story building here with 275 apartments. The project will be permitted by right, so the community meeting will simply fulfill a Civic Design Review prerequisite and won’t actually be a venue for binding community input.

In all, this community meeting will include presentations for three huge projects which will add a combined 738 units to this area. That is simply a staggering number and doesn’t even include the aforementioned hundred unit project on the 4200 block (or a few others in the pipeline). On the one hand, we get it. This is a very attractive area for rental apartments because of the proximity of Penn and HUP and CHOP and the University City Science Center. Those are all big job centers, not to mention all the students that want to live around here.

Be that as it may, it’s still a ton of units to absorb at one time, and we wonder whether the timing of these project might end up being more staggered than it appears at the moment. Remember, the tax abatement is changing at the end of 2021, so all these projects coming down the pike right now might simply be a case of developers getting their houses in order before that change occurs, to lock in a more beneficial tax situation moving forward. It’s also possible that all of these deals simply came together in quick succession, and we’ll see many of these buildings go up at the same time and a population boom in Spruce Hill. Neighbors will surely want to know where all these people will park. We’re a bit more interested to learn where everyone will buy their booze. And don’t say Jersey.